Replace Finder on Your Mac With One of These 3 Apps
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If you aren’t impressed with your Mac’s Finder app, why not replace it? But before you do, give Finder one last chance and see if you can improve it with a few tweaks:

If those don’t solve your Finder frustrations, try these three awesome Finder alternatives that we’ve rounded up. None of these apps require turning off System Integrity Protection, because disabling SIP is a bad idea How to Disable System Integrity Protection (and Why You Shouldn't) How to Disable System Integrity Protection (and Why You Shouldn't) There are more reasons to leave macOS' System Integrity Protection on than turn it off, but turning it off is easy. Read More .

1. Commander One (Free)

commander-one-default-view

After Finder’s clean interface, Commander One can seem cluttered at first glance. The dual-pane view, plus all the active toolbars and buttons, give that impression. Thus, you should turn off the elements you don’t need from the View menu for a better visual experience.

A quick look at the File menu tells you that Commander One supports all the basic functions that Finder does. You can preview files, duplicate them, move them, create shortcuts, and so on. Hold down the Option key to reveal more functions like you do in Finder.

commander-one-settings

If you forget the hotkeys that go with the basic functions, take a quick look at the bottom of the app window for a quick recap. You can always set up custom hotkeys from the app’s preferences (Cmd + Comma). While you’re at it, change the look and feel of Commander One here to suit your tastes.

Obviously, it’s the added functions in the app that make your workflow easier. They’re the ones that sent you looking for a Finder alternative in the first place, like a quick way to toggle file visibility, queue up file operations, or search within archives.

commander-one-pro-pack

While the app is free, it does have a paid set of plugins—the $29.99 Pro Pack—to bring in FTP support, cloud integration, extra themes, and so on. You get to test out the Pro features for 15 days right after you install Commander One. You’ll find a full comparison of Free versus Pro Pack features on the app’s home page.

Why Choose Commander One?

“Free” is the word you’re looking for.

2. Path Finder ($39.95, 30-Day Trial)

path-finder-default-view

Path Finder has so many options. If you’re a casual user, you might feel tempted to quit the app and uninstall it instead of trying to figure out how it works. Lie down, let that feeling pass, and get ready to explore the app in digestible chunks. You’re sure to find several useful (and cool) features.

The sidebar is Finder-like, familiar, so that’s a good start. I loved that it has handy search presets like Today, Yesterday, All PDF Documents, All Movies, and All Images. You can have multiple sidebars and switch between them via the gear icon at the bottom left of the sidebar.

path-finder-multiple-sidebars

Another handy sidebar feature is the drop stack. It makes bulk operations super easy. Click on the bullseye icon at the top of the sidebar to reveal this section. Drag and drop files from various locations onto the drop stack and then you can move, copy, or compress those files all at once.

path-finder-drop-stack

It’s convenient that you can launch Home folders, subfolders, and their contents right from the Bookmarks Bar. Drag and drop folders to this bar to create bookmarks to them.

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You’ll want to set up the panels in the Bottom Shelf and/or the Right Shelf to display various informative, quick-access modules of your choice. You can pick from Cover Flow, Recent Folders, iTunes Browser, Terminal, and so on. Click on the name of one of the default modules to bring up the entire list of modules (see screenshot below).

path-finder-modules

Next up is the dual-pane view. It’s turned off by default, but you can toggle it an instant by clicking on the Dual Browser toolbar button.

What else does Path Finder include?

An integrated terminal, file tagging, sorting, and filtering options, custom contextual menus, command line tools, folder compare and sync, secure deletion… Is there anything Path Finder doesn’t have a tool for? Probably not.

Don’t miss the Path Finder icon tucked away in the menu bar. It works more or less like the app’s Go menu and allows you to launch or jump to applications, files, and folders.

path-finder-menu-bar-options

Why Choose Path Finder?

You want extreme customization. You want a file explorer app that does everything.

3. ForkLift ($29.95, Free Trial)

ForkLift is popular as an FTP client, but it’s really a file manager with robust FTP support thrown in.

You’ll get used to ForkLift in no time, because it looks and acts like Finder. Of course, it has those extra features that make it more versatile than Finder. One example is the option to edit a text file from its preview in the column view. ForkLift allows you to create presets for batch renaming files, which is another big plus.

forklift-preview-text-editing.mov

Also, you can toggle file visibility, track queued file operations, compare files, and more right from the toolbar. As in Finder, you can customize the toolbar to add buttons for more functions, including those specific to ForkLift.

forklift-toolbar-buttons

The app comes with an in-built app mechanism to remove the last traces of any app you uninstall. The app deleter swings into action only if you click on Commands > Move to Trash or hit the keyboard shortcut Cmd + Delete. If you drag the app icon onto Trash for deletion, Finder does the job instead of ForkLift.

forklift-app-deleter

With Forklift, you can browse both local and remote archives as regular folders. However, to do this you must enable the Treat archives as folders option in the app’s settings.

forklift-archives-as-folders

Look for the ForkLift Mini icon in the menu bar. It lets you mount your favorite remote servers as local drives for easy access.

What else can you do with ForkLift?

You can sync folders, bookmark locations, save custom layouts, commit changes to Git, set rules for transfers, and do a whole lot more.

Can ForkLift replace Finder as your Mac’s default file explorer? Yes! This bit in the ForkLift user manual tells you how to set the app as the default file viewer. Once you make that tweak, options such as Show in Finder and Reveal in Finder will point to ForkLift instead of Finder.

Why Choose ForkLift?

You want a Finder clone that does what Finder can’t.

Switch to a Finder Alternative for a Better Experience

It’s a pity that with Finder, you lose out on some valuable features for ages 18 Tiny but Useful macOS Features You'll Want to Know About 18 Tiny but Useful macOS Features You'll Want to Know About macOS has many such small yet useful features that are easy to miss until you stumble upon them or someone points them out to you. Read More because they don’t come with an obvious point-and-click option like a button or a menu item.

For example, toggling file visibility in a snap seems possible only with a keyboard shortcut (Cmd + Shift + Period). Likewise, jumping to folders multiple levels above in a folder’s hierarchy seems possible only via a right-click on the window title.

file-hierarchy

You won’t have a similar problem with the Finder alternatives we have covered. If a function is available to you, it will most likely show up in some text-based menu/button or in some other obvious way.

Finder has a lot going for it, and Apple adds more useful features to it with each update. Despite that, the default file explorer A Complete Guide to Default Mac Apps and What They Do A Complete Guide to Default Mac Apps and What They Do Your Mac comes with a lot of apps for all sorts of tasks, but you may still be confused by what they do or whether you actually need some of them Read More falls way short of expectations for many Mac users. If you’re one of those users, try the apps we have rounded up for you. They’re all free to try, so there’s no reason not to.

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  1. Anastasia
    April 2, 2018 at 12:14 am

    I've been using Forklift for 7 years now. I'm a content manager and have to download and upload a lot of files mainly photos to remote servers. For the most part I'm using forklift as an SFTP client but I really love that it's also a file manager so I can tweak files with it also on my Mac locally. I use the batch renaming feature of forklift every day and I couldn't be more grateful for this feature. I usually have to rename the photos I'm working with in given ways, so I had created a few presets for these operations. Now I only have to select the pictures I want to rename and drag them over the name of the preset in the sidebar and the pictures are renamed in a second. Really great app!

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      April 3, 2018 at 3:32 am

      It's good to get a thumbs up for an app from a long-standing user, Anastasia. Thank you for the review!

  2. rann xeroxx
    March 9, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Thank you for the list. Finder is one of the weak points I feel in Mac OS.

  3. David
    March 9, 2018 at 11:16 am

    What about performances?
    Is there any differences between these softwares?

    Thanks!

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      March 13, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      Can you elaborate, David? We have compared the apps in the article itself. It depends on what you're looking for in a Finder replacement, or if you consider any particular features as must-haves.