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00 TotalFinder logo.jpgAsk any Mac user to make a list of applications that opens the most on their machine and you’ll definitely see Finder there.

Then someone would say that it’s unfair to allow Finder to be on the list because Mac users don’t even have a choice. Finder always starts automatically with Mac OS X, and there’s no way to close it.

I think that’s not a valid statement. Most users wouldn’t want to close Finder even if they can (And FYI, you can close Finder as long as you know the Secret Unveil Hidden Mac OS X Features With Secrets Unveil Hidden Mac OS X Features With Secrets Read More ). That’s because Finder is one of the most useful applications on the Mac. You do your daily copy, move, launch and other kinds of file management there.

So it’s a bit strange that if you compare it with other native Mac apps, Finder seems to get less attention. It gets small tweaks here and there over time, but in general it’s still the same old Finder that we know and love from back then. At least, that’s the way it appears to our non-techie eyes.

Not For The Faint Of Heart

The state of Finder as it is today might be fine for most users, but I know many power users who wish to be able to do more with Finder. That’s why there are Mac finder alternatives out there.


One of the alternatives is TotalFinder. This SIMBL plugin will bring your Finder to a new level. If you are truly a power user, I think you would want to try out this app.

However, there are a few things that should be noted up front about this Mac finder alternative:

  1. TotalFinder is Snow Leopard only. This is due to the fact that SIMBL plugins like Afloat Solve Your Mac Window Management Issues with Afloat Solve Your Mac Window Management Issues with Afloat Read More and SizeWell only work for Cocoa applications and unlike its previous Carbon version, Snow Leopard’s Finder has been re-written in Cocoa.
  2. It is also still in the early Alpha stage. Trying it means preparing yourself for bugs and crashes. You should back up often (that’s why it’s not for the faint of heart).
  3. This app will stop being a free app after it goes out of Alpha.

So why bother trying? Why recommend this app despite the disadvantages? I’ll tell you why.

It’s For The Fun Of It

There are several cool things that make this so-called still-buggy app worth a look. But before we get to that point, let’s start from the very beginning, shall we?

The installer comes with many words of warnings: about the free Alpha period, about SIMBL, and about the need to finish all Finder activities before proceeding. Click continue only if you are ready. :)

01 Install TotalFinder with Warnings.jpg

Please also note that there’s an uninstaller inside the disk image, should you need it.

After the installation, Finder will be restarted and you’ll quickly notice two different changes: a new icon of Finder (wearing shades), and… the tabs! Yes Sir! Your Finder can do tabs now. Can you guess what the tabs appearance is similar to?

Mac finder alternative

However, the slider which usually sits at the bottom right of the Finder window in icon view mode is missing. So you can’t adjust the icon size.

You will also notice the TotalFinder icon in the menubar. Clicking on it will bring out the information about the expiration date, and also the Preferences – the place where you can adjust the app’s behavior.

Mac finder alternative

There are four tabs there:

  1. Visor: Gives you the ability to assign shortcuts to summon (or hide) Finder from within any application, and whether to stick Finder to a specific Space or make it available to all Spaces.

    04a Finder Preferences - Visor.jpg

  2. .DS_Store: If you move your data around a lot between Mac and Windows, you must be familiar with .DS_Store files. These useful clutters are everywhere, but visible only if we view the storage under a Windows machine. This tab gives you the ability to control the behavior of .DS_Store files.

    04b Finder Preferences - DS_Store.jpg

  3. Tweaks: You can choose whether you want to show hidden files or not from here. There’s also the option to put Folders always on top.

    04c Finder Preferences - Tweaks.jpg

  4. Purchase: This is where you can update TotalFinder to the next version (or make the purchase when it’s not free anymore).

The Conclusion Is….

TotalFinder might still be in Alpha, but I’ve survived the first few days of normal usage without crashes. Lucky me.

Personally, I think the coolest feature of TotalFinder is the Tab, and that feature alone should earn this little app a little bit of your time.

But is it worth whatever money that the developer will charge in the future? I honestly don’t know. All I know is that at this moment TotalFinder is still a free Mac finder alternative and I’m making use of that.

But I do hope that the developer would consider at least providing a free version (with less features, maybe?) of this app in the future so that more users could experience how great Finder could be.

How about you? Would you try TotalFinder? Do you know other alternatives to Finder?  Please share using the comments below.

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  1. Alex
    September 14, 2016 at 7:51 am

    I think we should remember about tasks when talking about file managers. It is not a habit-question, it’s question about features, which you need for your work. For example Total Finder. They’re talking that it’s the big brother to Finder. But it is problem! Because it doesn’t have features, which power users need (unlike Nimble Commander, for instance): finder-like column view, live filtering by typing, archives browsing, file coloring filter etc. May be it’s not necessary for regular users, but it is for IT specialist. That’s why plenty of them chose more powerful file managers.

  2. Christos
    February 23, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    i try total finder and i uninstall it after a few hours.
    the multiple tabs on the finder is very nice feature but it does not work very well with spaces. if you have on finder window open on space 1 and then try to open another on space 3 it will open it as a tab on the space 1.
    for me that i use spaces a lot and i have customise each space with it's own dock and background, didn't do the trick.
    PathFinder is much better but still believe that Finder is more stable. Wish Apple do something about multiple tabs on the Finder in the future

  3. Alex Drewniak
    January 22, 2010 at 12:18 am

    I've been using TotalFinder for a almost a week now and ended up uninstalling it yesterday. It's just too of a tedious process to work with it when you can't drag n drop stuff from one tab to another. Once that feature is added, it'll worth paying a few bucks for.

  4. Howard Pearce
    January 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    While I like the program, it freezes the finder windows when u try to open a new finder window with the current finder window minimized .. I have to use the CLOSE WINDOW command from the menu bar in these cases as the tab and window buttons get frozen. When maximized, the new finder window is opened in a new tab with no problems. With finder minimized, a new window is indeed opened but the buttons are frozen.

  5. MJ
    January 21, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Not really that eager to try it, since I'm not a big fan of tabs. However, I may install and play later, after it comes out of alpha and beta.

    Nowadays I'm finding myself using Finder (and any other app) together with a very cool app called Cinch by Irradiated Software. They also have two other apps worth checking: TwoUp and SizeUp.


  6. liosha
    January 21, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Actually, the icon size slider is there. But I've notices the missing of items count at the bottom of the window.