Pathfinder – Must Have Mac App

When I first fired up Pathfinder I had a flashback to my DOS days using XTree Pro. Now, DOS flashbacks would normally be considered a bad thing, but XTree was an absolutely great file manager and one of my all-time favorites. Pathfinder gave me the same impression, it’s a Finder replacement and so much more. It hasn’t disappointed me.

Since Pathfinder has so many features and is so customizable there’s a bit of a learning curve but it’s easy to get into and start using. I didn’t find myself wanting to go back to Finder to make thing easy. As time goes one I’m exploring more and more added features. It’s $35 and I’ll be buying it when my eval period nears it’s end.

You can check out the Pathfinder page and the other links at the bottom of this post for more information, but here’s what I like so far:

  • Tabbed browsing & breadcrumbs – The main file window looks a lot like Finder but supports tabs and displays a breadcrumb trail along the top to make it quick to go up to a higher level directory.
  • A “Get Info” window (no right-click menu) with tons of information. It also allows managing access rights and creation/modification dates along with numerous other attributes and properties.
  • Drop Stack – This is a temporary storage space I use several ways. Rather than having to multi-select files from among a long list they can simply be dragged to the stack one or two at a time (no more errant clicks screwing up the selections) then dragged from there to their new location. Instead of having to drag files around Finder I can place them on the drop stack then go to the new location and pull them off.
  • Drag a folder to the toolbar and it adds itself as an icon for easy browsing access.
  • Drag a folder to the tab bar and it opens in a new tab for browsing.
  • A resizable preview panel that shows previews of many file types.
  • Bookmarks and Favorites for frequently used folders
  • Customizable context menus (right or control-click menus) with many available actions such as “Compress” and “Compress and e-mail”
  • A slick search tool that’s independent of spotlight (or can use spotlight) that has numerous features. This is one of the things I’m still getting used to.
  • If the breadcrumbs aren’t enough for you there’s a folder history drawer to make it easy to go back to a folder you visited earlier.
  • Easy one-click access to the console
  • A terminal drawer that drops down to provide easy access to the unix command line
  • And a pet peeve that drove me crazy in Finder – the main “Finder” window displays the amount of fspace used on the drive rather than just the available space. Don’t ask me why, it just makes me happy to see both free and used space.
  • Once click access to burn a directory tree (or any selected directories/disks) to DVD or CD. No burn folders needed.
  • The desktop can be hidden, making for a nice clean desktop, while the files on the desktop are still accessible through Pathfinder.
  • Integrated file viewers so other apps don’t open up when I want to view files such as PDFs or text files.
  • There’s a panel that shows running process. Clicking on the process makes it active. Process can also be ended from the panel.
  • It seems like everything is customizable
  • Commands are available in multiple ways – menus, key shortcuts, toolbars, etc… and they’re all fully configurable.

Pathfinder is a Universal app. If you find Finder lacking then head over and download the evaluation. You’ll like what you see. If your someone who likes the “one-button” approach to the Mac then you probably won’t like Finder.


Cocoatech Website (Publisher): There’s a 30-day eval available. It’s full featured, just a bag screen at startup. If your like me you’ll only see the nag screen at boot up.

I first came across Pathfinder at 43 Folders so you can head out there and search on Pathfinder for more information.

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