Mac Power Users 481: Finder and Its Alternatives


Hello, old friend.


Glad to see someone mention Forklift. I first bought it years ago as a SFTP transfer/sync app, but found it made for an excellent multi-pane Finder replacement, offering previews, quick open, Quick Look, tabs, workspaces and more. The killer feature compared to an app like Commander One Pro (which I also own) is the Finder-like sidebar where you can put your favorite folders, documents and apps. I basically duplicated my Finder sidebars in Forklift, and gave myself access to my iCloud Drive and Dropbox folders in the sidebar too.




Anybody using DEVONThink as their finder replacement? Thoughts? It’s hard to find folks discussing this app. Or how they use it in their workflow.


I think you recommended Forklift to me, I need to start using it as a finder replacement. Fantastic for manipulating and moving files around.

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I personally don’t but would like to get to the point where DEVONThink is a sort of research database etc for stuff.


That’s a good deal!

Forklift is also part of Setapp.

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Lots of discussion here on the forum (50+ hits).

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There are a lot of apps that are “file buckets” that can do similar things. I have DEVONthink and it’s a great app and its crossed my mind that it could be a finder replacement. However I see these “file buckets” as slowly losing relevance as automation and search gets easier.

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I’ll recommend the DEVONthink forums. There you can dig deep into using scenarios and Bluefrog (DT‘s customer relations specialist) is super helpful. I would be surprised if there isn’t a discussion about using DT as a finder replacement.


Two posts for the price of one…

  1. On the original macintosh you used to be able to drag a file or folder from the finder onto the desktop to work on it, then when you’d finished there was a contextual menu item to “return” it to the file. The process clearly replicated an old office filing system; find it in the filing cabinet, take the file/ document out, work on it on your desk and then replace it. Does the modern finder have any preferences that let you still do this?

  2. Regarding folders and tags: A folder is a representation of a mathematical set, its name is the name of that set. Sub-folders are subsets, typically arranged into a hierarchy where each subfolder has a “is-a” or “has-a” relationship to its parent. For example a folder named for a client may contain sub-folders for each project that client has instructed (a “has-a” relationship).

A tag is also a representation of a set, again its name is the name of that set. The advantage of tags, as mentioned in the episode, is that a single document can have many tags and can therefore be allocated to many, disjoint sets. The problem is that tags cannot be arranged hierarchically; there is no “sub-tag” equivalent of a sub-folder. If there were then tags and folders would be identical and one could impose a storage structure using folders (this year’s, last year’s, this office’s, that office’s: what databases call sharding) and a semantic structure using tags. In the good old bad old days of the UNIX CLI, one could do this with file system hard links (i.e. the same document was separately referenced in more than one directory, at least within the same disk drive). Creating hard links was, admittedly, painful in deeply nested directory structures (see the man page for ln), but as far as I can tell the entire concept of hard linking seems to have been discarded in the finder. Does any one know of a finder replacement that supports hard links? Could it be achieved with an action item/ service? DT Pro supports the concept using “replicate” (cf. duplicate, which makes a copy).

Finally, a mathematical set has rules that constrain what can be put into that set. If Apple really want to improve the finder, they should look at how to apply constraints to a tag. For example, if I apply a “client” or a “date” tag, I would like the possible values to be constrained to the “domain” of valid clients or valid dates, thus preventing mis-tagging errors such as a misspelled name or an invalid date.

Has anyone suggestions for finder replacements/ tools that support structured tagging in these ways? I use DT Pro, which is part of the way there, but doesn’t meet the cut on structured tags.


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For @MacSparky - I also have several upright Qi charges and have discovered most of them work if you flip the AirPods case upside down! Hope you find it works for yours too!


You know, I’ve never made a smart folder and there are 3-4 searches or scrolls through a folder I do regularly. That’s changing today. Nice crunchy episode!


@ismh when you were talking about gathering files from different folders into PathFinder’s stack – that’s a perfect use for tags, just click on the Jones Acct tag in Finder, and there are all your assets.


The thing I find most helpful with Default Folder X is that it (most of the time) highlights the last file you opened in a particular app. This is great when I’m processing a lot of files – the processing is both cognitively challenging, and mind numbing. DFX remembers what I processed last, so I can just down arrow to select the next file. Without DFX, it’s a matter of scroll, scroll, scroll, which one was it?

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These videos by Todd Olthoff might be helpful in comparing features.


42 GOLD STARS for @Chughes619


I use Path Finder every day. I also have Transmit and have used Forklift in the past. I prefer Path Finder for two main reasons:

  • The preview module lets me see my PDF drawings with out wasted space around them
  • Its batch rename function is very convenient and extremely powerful

I have not found another application that does these two features as well as Path Finder. A lot of my work involves checking that the name of the file corresponds correctly to information shown in the title block on the page and follows a particular convention. So the two features I mentioned make my job much easier.


It’s a Finder replacement for research documents, but there’s still plenty of use for Finder.

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