Chikoo: A Simple iTunes Style File Organizer

Chikoo is, simply put, a file manager. In fact, Chikoo pegs itself as a “simple file organizer for the Mac.” Chikoo can handle any file type you throw at it. You can add and edit the files’ metadata to your heart’s content. You can organize the files in lists and folders of lists. You can easily view the files with Quick Look. Chikoo is a cross between OS X’s Finder and iTunes.

If you’ve got a desktop littered with documents, unable to ever find the one specific file at the right specific time, Chikoo may be exactly what you need. Join us after the jump as we take a closer look!

Interface

Chikoo looks nice. It looks really nice. It follows the standard Mac OS X design aesthetic, and that’s not a bad thing. Some applications attempt to recreate the feel of a native Mac OS X application and fall flat on their face – Chikoo does not. It has the familiar sidebar, housing your document library and user-created lists. If you’ve got an overwhelming number of lists, you can create folders or collapse the entire section to reduce clutter.

The toolbar is clean and simple, containing only two buttons to “Import” or “Open” a document, along with a search filter. You can customize the toolbar to include a Quick Look button, among other things. The lower left-hand corner contains an “Attribute” slide-out window, akin to the mini artwork viewer in iTunes, which allows you to see the user-defined metadata. If you are familiar with Mac OS X applications, you’ll feel right at home with the Chikoo interface.

Default Chikoo interface

Default Chikoo interface

Functionality

Importing Files

In order to add your files to your Chikoo library, you must import them by clicking the “Import” button. When you click “Import,” you are immediately asked whether or not you want to move the file into a “Chikoo folder” or leave the file where it is.

If you select “Move,” a folder is created in the user’s home directory labeled “Chikoo” (the folder has a nice “carved out” icon to match the other folders in the home directory). A standard file browser opens, to select the file(s) you wish to import. My first instinct was to simply drag and drop the files into the Chikoo window – this is not possible.

Moving your files keeps them organized similar to iTunes Media folder.

Moving your files keeps them organized similar to iTunes Media folder.

Once the files have been imported, they simply sit, list view, in your “Library.” By default, the only information displayed is the name of the file. I initially imported a few PDF documents and a couple images, all of which had a file name consisting of a random string of numbers and letters.

Sitting in my Chikoo library, there was no discernible way to tell one PDF from another, let alone from a JPEG or other file type, without pressing the Space Bar to launch QuickView to get an actual glimpse of the file. It was at this moment I realized the unfortunate omission of a thumbnail view.

Can you spot the MP3 among the PDFs and Images?

Can you spot the MP3 among the PDFs and Images?

Managing Attributes

You can edit the file names (though, for better or worse, this is not reflected in the actual file names) and rename them more appropriately. You can also add your own metadata to each file, known as “Attributes.” It took me a few minutes to figure out exactly how this worked.

You must first create the desired attribute categories. To do this, select “Manage Attributes…” from the “Settings” menu. Click the “+” icon to add a new attribute. You enter a label for the attribute and then select the format (text, number or date) from a drop-down menu. Since Chikoo does not automatically list the file types, I created a “Type” text attribute.

You must manually create each attribute.

You must manually create each attribute.

After the attribute category is created, adding specific attributes to each file is a bit tricky as well. I naturally went to right-click (Command-click) the document name in the “Library” list, expecting to find a “Get Info” option. No such luck. To edit the attributes, you must select the file and slide-out the “Attribute” viewer in the lower left-hand corner. The categories you just created are listed, with a text box beneath each.

I manually entered “PDF” and “JPG” for the files I previously imported. I also added an arbitrary date attribute. These attributes can then be added as sortable columns within the main window.

Manually enter the desired metadata in the “Attribute” viewer sidebar slide-out.

Manually enter the desired metadata in the “Attribute” viewer sidebar slide-out.

Organising Files

You can organize your files in lists, either manually or using smart lists. You simply drag and drop the files from the “Library” to the desired list to create manual lists. Smart lists work similar to Smart Playlists in iTunes or Smart Folders in Finder, except that you can only filter the files by the file name or the attributes you’ve manually set up.

Once organized, you can double-click to open the select file. It will open in the default application.

Once organized, you can double-click to open the select file. It will open in the default application.

Smart List view

Smart List view

Similar Applications

There are a number of Finder replacements on the market, but I believe Evernote is the closest in functionality to Chikoo. At its very basic level, Evernote is a file organizer. You can import your documents, organize them in notebooks, and add custom tags – just like Chikoo.

Evernote takes this a step further by offering applications on multiple platforms and mobile devices, everything kept in sync, searchable documents and images, and available online. Compared to Evernote, Chikoo’s feature set seems extremely limited.

Conclusion

Chikoo is a nice looking Mac application. It is for that very reason that certain limitations feel like glaring omissions. While it is nice that you can tag your files with any attribute you desire, manually adding each attribute to each file becomes extremely tedious extremely quickly.

There’s no reason why Chikoo can’t automatically detect, at the very least, the file types and sizes. Once you add a number of documents, it seems no easier to find items within Chikoo’s library than it would be if you were looking through a folder full of documents within Finder. In fact, Finder may be easier – for images, for example, I can simply select the thumbnail view and quickly browse through all my images until I find the one I am looking for.

Using the search function is limited to the file name and attributes, there is no search within document itself. In order to locate a specific file, Quick Look appears to be the easiest option.

As it stands, Chikoo is still a work in progress. At the time of this writing, it is only at version 0.5.1. Chikoo is a available from Coding Turtle at the discounted price of €9.95 (roughly $13.90 USD), until the release of 1.0 – at which point the price will increase. Chikoo faces some stiff competition from more robust file managers, such as Evernote.

As a Mac file organizer, Chikoo doesn’t do much that Finder can’t already do. I would love to see Chikoo incorporate different views and automatically pull in any and all already available metadata. In order to gain and maintain relevancy, Chikoo has some serious catching up to do.


Summary

Chikoo provides folders, lists and smart lists to help you keep files of your choice neatly organized. It is up to you what you wish to organize; it could be your PDF files, movies, images—anything.

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