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xmenu shortcutsAfter a decade as a Windows user, I recently purchased a MacBook laptop. There are many things that I like about it, such as the long battery life and the amazing integration of the touchpad into the navigation of OS X. There is one thing that bugs me about it, however – Finder. Compared to Windows 7, Finder feels clunky. I don’t like the way Finder How To Easily Change The Look Of Finder on Mac How To Easily Change The Look Of Finder on Mac Read More looks, I don’t like the location of the sidebar, and I don’t find Spotlight Two Free Alternatives To OS X Spotlight [Mac] Two Free Alternatives To OS X Spotlight [Mac] Read More as quickly or as accurately as I’d like.

I have, however, found a solution – Xmenu. This decidedly un-Mac-like app adds menu icons to the upper right hand corner of the Mac menu bar. Let’s have a look at why this app has won me over.

Quick & Easy Access

xmenu shortcutsOne beef I have with Finder Turbocharge & Customize Your Mac Finder Windows [Mac] Turbocharge & Customize Your Mac Finder Windows [Mac] Read More is ease of access. To maximize usable screen space on my Mac, I keep my dock Supercharge your Mac Dock with these 4 tools [Mac only] Supercharge your Mac Dock with these 4 tools [Mac only] Read More hidden. If I want to open Finder I either need to go to the dock to open it, which involves mousing over it so it appears, or I need to Command-Tab and then select Finder.

Xmenu, however, adds icons to the upper right hand part of the menu bar. These icons can display a number of folders including the Applications, Developer, Home and Documents folders. Once an icon is added, you simply need to click on it to open a display of the folder’s contents. This is readily accessible so long as your menu bar is visible (and it almost always is).

xmenu tips

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This may seem like a minor complaint to resolve, but I’m sure some users share my desire to remain on-task at times. Xmenu is extremely quick, and doesn’t require that I open a new window over whatever I’m working on. For this, it has my love.

Custom Folders & Snippets

xmenu tips

As mentioned, Xmenu comes with a number of default folder options. Xmenu will display everything that is in those folders. This can also become a bit unwieldy in certain situations, as you may have a lot of apps or documents that can be displayed. I know that I do.

xmenu shortcutsFortunately, Xmenu has a solution to this. There is a user-defined folder, and the contents of it can be changed by adding files to the Library/Application Support/Xmenu folder. Adding files to this folder can provide you with a smaller selection of choices more closely related to the project you’re working on at the moment.

Another cool features is the Snippets option. You can add files to Snippets by placing them into the Library/Application Support/XSnippets folder. As with the user-defined Xmenu folder, doing this will add the files to the appropriate Xmenu icon. However, clicking a Snippet doesn’t open the contents. Instead, the contents of the file are automatically copy-and-pasted into your currently open application. Snippets is very much like the copy-and-paste function, but you can store multiple bits of content in the XSnippets folder and paste them whenever you’d like.

Conclusion

Xmenu won’t be for everyone. While I don’t like Finder much, I recognize that it is user-friendly in many ways. While quick, Xmenu isn’t as attractive or simple. It displays a large list of information from certain folders, and you have to do the rest.

Do you have a favorite application that runs round Finder? Be sure to let us know in the comments. I enjoy Xmenu, but I’d also like to check out other alternatives.

  1. Claire C
    February 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I'm confused as to what the problem is here.
    On my Mac, if I click on the Applications folder on the dock, I get a list. This works like a pull down. To get a window, I have to go to the end of the list where there is an item "open in Finder". I also put my Documents folder on the task bar, and it behaves the same way. I could put any folder there and it would act as a pull-down menu. So what's the need for a separate program?
    Admittedly, it is on the dock, not the menu bar. However, I've put my dock on the left margin, and with a modern wide-screen monitor there is plenty of width so I don't need to hide the dock.
    Whenever I'm helping someone set up a Mac, especially if they are coming from Windows, I put the Application, Downloads, and Documents folder on the task bar, so that they will have this familiar functionality.
    The one thing that isn't already built-in to the Mac is the Snippets function you describe. That looks pretty cool.

  2. Claire C
    February 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I'm confused as to what the problem is here.
    On my Mac, if I click on the Applications folder on the dock, I get a list. This works like a pull down. To get a window, I have to go to the end of the list where there is an item "open in Finder". I also put my Documents folder on the task bar, and it behaves the same way. I could put any folder there and it would act as a pull-down menu. So what's the need for a separate program?
    Admittedly, it is on the dock, not the menu bar. However, I've put my dock on the left margin, and with a modern wide-screen monitor there is plenty of width so I don't need to hide the dock.
    Whenever I'm helping someone set up a Mac, especially if they are coming from Windows, I put the Application, Downloads, and Documents folder on the task bar, so that they will have this familiar functionality.
    The one thing that isn't already built-in to the Mac is the Snippets function you describe. That looks pretty cool.

  3. Tom W
    January 3, 2011 at 8:14 am

    For conviniently opening apps and maybe sometimes useful documents i use quicksilver by blacktree.

  4. Moshe Feder
    December 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    The classic Mac way to get quick access to stuff without opening a Finder window or leaving your current application was to use the Apple Menu, which was on the far left of the menu bar. Unfortunately, it all but went away with the switch to OS X.

    It could provide access to your app folder, your doc folder, recent items [files, folders, apps, docs, and servers], specific apps (particularly useful for utilities), any folder you wanted to add, etc., etc. plus all the system commands (Log Out, Sleep, Shut Down, etc.) Apple currently puts in the vestigial Apple Menu that remains in OS X.

    A number of independent developers have provided replacements for it. My choice for years now has been FruitMenu from Unsanity. In addition to doing everything the Apple Menu did, it gives you new control over contextual menus and other tweaks. Definitely worth a look.

  5. Moshe Feder
    December 27, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    The classic Mac way to get quick access to stuff without opening a Finder window or leaving your current application was to use the Apple Menu, which was on the far left of the menu bar. Unfortunately, it all but went away with the switch to OS X.

    It could provide access to your app folder, your doc folder, recent items [files, folders, apps, docs, and servers], specific apps (particularly useful for utilities), any folder you wanted to add, etc., etc. plus all the system commands (Log Out, Sleep, Shut Down, etc.) Apple currently puts in the vestigial Apple Menu that remains in OS X.

    A number of independent developers have provided replacements for it. My choice for years now has been FruitMenu from Unsanity. In addition to doing everything the Apple Menu did, it gives you new control over contextual menus and other tweaks. Definitely worth a look.

  6. randalltrini
    December 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I also have used Himmelbar. Not as featured filled, but a decent alternative.

  7. Stayclassyamerica
    December 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I use aLunch. It's similar. Works well.

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