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The Finder for many Mac users is the hub for accessing, previewing, and navigating files. Depending on how it’s used, it can be a useful file manager, or it can be a time waster when you can’t quickly locate documents or move files.

One of the alternatives to the Mac Finder is TotalFinder TotalFinder Is The Finder Of The Future TotalFinder Is The Finder Of The Future Finder, the official Mac OS X file browser, is likely one of the most used applications on your computer. That's really not surprising. What is surprising, is how outdated the this part of Mac OS... Read More , which is an almost seamless replacement for the OS X Finder. But another alternative Finder application I’ve been using for the last few years is Cocoatech’s legendary Path Finder 6 ($39.95). It’s more expensive than TotalFinder, but it also has some great pro features that Mac power users might get a kick out of.

Tab and Bookmarking Features

Path Finder, as far as I know, is the first Finder application to include a tabs feature and one which Apple has finally added to its native Finder for the upcoming OS X Mavericks. Finder folders open in tabs when they are clicked on. You can also right-click on a folder in the sidebar and select to open it as a tab. Also, by clicking on the “+” plus button in the far right tab, you can save and name different sets of opened tabs, which can be useful for working in different projects.

Note that in the screenshot below, Path Finder also includes another layer of bookmarked tabs, which can be dragged in and out of the space. To quickly access your most frequently used folders, select and drag them to the Favorites (the heart icon) set.



Path Finder includes all the features found in Apple’s native Finder, including a sidebar, various column views, Quick Look, and a customizable toolbar. In addition to these features, Path Finder also provides two additional pop-out sidebars, or Drawers, which give you access to even more features. You can open the sidebars by clicking on one or more of the Drawers in the toolbar icon.

PathFinder drawers

These drawers can be customized to reveal features such as selected file information, recently opened documents, Cover Flow view for a selected folder of documents or images, or single file preview. The right and left drawers contain the same features, but if you’re a Terminal geek, you might be glad to know that you can get Terminal access by clicking the bottom drawer.

PathFinder terminal drawer

These drawers can be expanded for wide viewing, and they can be very useful for navigating and browsing files and folders.

PathFinder preview

At the top of the main sidebar, there’s a cool Drop Stack feature, which allows you to drag files to it so that they can be moved to another folder.

PathFinder drop stack

Embedded Applications

Path Finder also contains some built-in commands and applications that you might overlook when first trying it out. For example, you can select a folder of images or documents and use Path Finder’s Slideshow feature to view them. Slideshows can be initiated by going to Commands > Slideshow, or by right-clicking on a folder and selecting Slideshow from the drop-down menu.

PathFinder slideshow

Notice,  in the drop-down menu, there’s also features for compressing files, opening them up in Terminal, copying their Finder path, and getting a quick list view of files in a selected folder. There’s also a built-in feature for batch renaming files.

Though there are a wide variety of text editors for the Mac, Path Finder contains its own built-in editor (File > New Text File), which is very similar to TextEdit in OS X. In addition, Path Finder includes a basic image editor. While it’s not as feature rich as OS X’s Preview 10 Tips You Need to Know About Mac Preview 10 Tips You Need to Know About Mac Preview Read More , it does provide a quick way to crop or rotate a selected image.

Worth Checking Out

There are several other features and tools in Path Finder that allow for customizing the default font and icon size of folders and file names, as well as settings for opening new folders and tabs. You can also set Path Finder as the default file browser, which means when you select the Reveal in Finder command in other applications, Path Finder will be used.

Unfortunately, Path Finder doesn’t include a written manual, but Cocoatech does have a YouTube channel of over a dozen tutorial videos that cover nearly all the features in Path Finder and how to make the most use of it. Also, Path Finder can’t functionally replace the default Mac Finder, but it can serve as an enhancement of the Finder. I keep its icon parked right next to the Finder icon in my dock, and typically click on Path Finder when I need to get at files.

Download: Path Finder for Mac OS X ($39.95)

Download a 30-Day trial version of Path Finder and let us know what you think of it as an alternative to the Finder. Are there features you would like to see added?

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  1. Alex
    September 13, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Very detailed article. Thanks. I need to say I also used Path Finder for a while but switched that. Because I need some necessary features: archives browsing, file coloring filter, built-in file search etc. I think it's ok if you're a regular user. If you're IT specialist you need more powerful manager. I use Nimble Commander. Yes, it's also not ideal, but easy and strong.

  2. George Klein
    August 20, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I have been using Path Finder shortly after purchasing my firs Apple computer four and a half years ago. This excellent application is much better that Finder (it would take too long to describe in words what the reason is), and I have been successfully using it since then. "Highly recommended". Clarification: I do not get any reward from the program developers or anybody else whatsoever for recommending this program.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      August 21, 2013 at 2:08 am

      Hey George, thanks for confirming how useful Path Finder is. Though I've been using it for a while, I discovered even more features as I was writing this article. I always click on PF when I need access the Finder.