Path Finder 6: Do Much More With The Finder

We all love our Macs, otherwise we would have opted for a different hardware/OS combo. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t great alternatives to some of Apple’s apps which are worth considering. The Finder, for example, is great for beginners, but for advanced or power users, it lacks.

Since we are fortunate enough to live in a world filled with creative and imaginative developers, there is an alternative, of course. Many, actually, but one of the best is Path Finder, now available in version 6 and it takes the Finder concept to a whole new level. Read on to find out how.

The Look of Path Finder 6

I have to confess something up front: I won’t be convering all the features Path Finder 6 has to offer. There are simply too many; the app is so powerful it would force me to write a small book. But I’ll introduce you to the features I think will intrigue you most, compared to Apple’s own Finder.

Let’s start with the most obvious difference, the look. Upon launching Path Finder 6, you’ll see familiar elements but also some stuff that’s different.

Welcome to Path Finder 6, the powerful Finder alternative.

Welcome to Path Finder 6, the powerful Finder alternative.

Many of the icons on the top are in the normal Finder as well, so you’ll have no difficulties with them. The left pane offers quick access to your hard drives and other places. Most notable is the Favorites category here. In Finder, you can drag files and folders into the Places category to have them quickly accessible; in Path Finder, you can fav them and they’ll appear in their own category. The benefit? It keeps your Places uncluttered.

Another great feature is the split screen option: when activated, it allows you to open two different places at once, say your Dropbox folder and your desktop. It’s never been this easy to move documents around within just one window.

Use the split window feature to quickly compare and move files.

Use the split window feature to quickly compare and move files.

In the upper area of the app window you’ll notice the biggest difference compared to Finder. There are three Module buttons, there’s an additional quick access bar that holds your standard folders (documents, music, movies etc), a cryptic circular icon and then you have tabs. Let’s take a closer look at all of these.

Diving Deeper Into Path Finder 6

Path Finder 6 has three modules which extend to the left, bottom and right if selected through their separate buttons. They allow you to display additional information without cluttering the main window.

Modules display a wealth of additional information.

Modules display a wealth of additional information.

You can change which information is displayed by hitting the tiny arrow symbol and then choose from a dropdown. It’s very handy to have these information at hand quickly instead of having to call them up with right-clicks on the file or having to open a file in a separate application to obtain the info.

If you’d rather stick to the normal sized window there’s an option to show those details there as well (icon in the top part of the window) and it’s the same here: select the type of information to be displayed from the tiny arrows.

For now, let’s assume you want to work with just one pane, but quickly move all those screenshots from your Desktop to a folder. That’s where the Drop Stack comes in handy, the circular icon on top of the left pane. Simply drag all files you want to move somewhere onto the symbol and then navigate to the folder you want to put them in and drag them there from the Drop Stack. You can do that with files from within Path Finder 6 but also with any file that resides anywhere on your computer. It’s a great way of collecting stuff that needs to go into one place without having to jump between folders and apps all the time.

Use the DropZone to gather files from different locations that need to be moved to the same folder

Use the DropZone to gather files from different locations that need to be moved to the same folder

Next up: the quick access bar of your standard folders. Now, it’s different from the left pane, because there you just open a folder. From the bar in the upper window area you can access a dropdown that allows you to quickly drill down any folder structure. The detail I like most about this feature is the separation of folders (which are sorted in the upper part of the pop-up window) and files (in the lower part).

Use the drill down feature to quickly access any folder from a pop over window.

Use the drill down feature to quickly access any folder from a pop over window.

Last, but not least, let’s take a closer look at tabs. They behave just like tabs in your favorite browser. The main advantage I see in this feature is organization: instead of having multiple Finder windows open – may that be to compare or copy content, you can have all of it within just one single window. And it doesn’t even stop there: Path Finder lets you save tab configurations as Sets. So when you perform the same tasks often, simply call up the associated tab set and go to work.

Tabs allow you to keep everything tidy and still have everything you need at your fingertips.

Tabs allow you to keep everything tidy and still have everything you need at your fingertips.

The Huge Variety of Additional Features

What we covered so far are only the basic additional features which Path Finder offers over Finder. I’ve found some additional things that you might find interesting. Let’s run through a selection of them quickly.

Path Finder allows you to launch apps. When given the command, a translucent window appears that displays all your apps. You can either scroll or use the search field to find a specific one. Be patient the first time you try it; if you have a lot of apps, Path Finder needs a moment to index them.

Quickly launch apps with Path Finder 6.

Quickly launch apps with Path Finder 6.

Create files directly from within Path Finder 6. Yep, you can do that. If you need a new text file quickly, do it right from within the app. Or tag your files, if you’re into that. You can even create tag groups to assign at once. Developers especially will like the ability to create disk images and you can do basic image editing from within Path Finder 6.

There's also basic image editing build into Path Finder 6

There's also basic image editing build into Path Finder 6

My favorite, though, is the batch renaming feature. It’s something I need all the time and if you ever had to rename a large number of files, you’ll appreciate any help you can get. Path Finder allows for intelligent renaming with the help of different functions that can be combined – and, best of all – saved.

Batch renaming becomes a breeze with this feature set

Batch renaming becomes a breeze with this feature set

Verdict

We are at the end of the review, but I have barely scratched the surface of Path Finder 6. When I started to test the app, I took the time to go through all the support videos which are available from Cocoatech because it’s a much easier way to discover what you can do with app than reading a documentation. I’m sure that there are many other features which will surprise and help you with your daily work.

The worst I can say about Path Finder 6 is that it’s incredibly powerful and takes a while to find out all the neat things you can do with it. But, on the other hand, it will save you so much time and and so many clicks down the road so the time invested in learning it will really pay off.


Summary

Path Finder is a powerful Finder replacement that takes some time to learn, but offers an incredibly feature set that goes far beyond Apple's own Finder.

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