Is it wrong, doctor?

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

Yesterday’s entry on the Mac OS X Finder has prompted many comments and I wanted to grasp the occasion to thank all of you who have taken the time to post: hearing from you is always a pleasure and an honor.

In the light of all the notes and remarks, I decided to go ahead and give Path Finder a good try. Now, according to Cocoatech’s website, version 4 is due out any day and my comments are therefore going to be outdated by the time I hit the Enter button but this is a risk one has to take in the field.

I will confess that my initial impression upon launching Path Finder wasn’t without similarities to that of Ellen Feiss when she discovered Word had crashed. “Eeuuuhh?” just about summed up my first contact with the application.

Then, suddenly, the little disclosure triangles started to get me going in improved list view, I liked the fast I could get an Applications menu back that didn’t nest Pages or Keynote three articles down, that all my developer tools were right there while I can never find them otherwise… One by one, all these little touches started to make a lot of sense.

Now, Path Finder does, in some areas, provide more functionality than I believe a file browser should provide — image retouching, for example, is not something I’m hot on within my browser, despite its implementation being surprisingly solid. I haven’t tried it all yet but, a mere day after downloading it, I have it already set up to quit Finder at launch — which I already did from time to time, when I wanted to force myself to use Terminal.

All in all, Path Finder is slowly convincing and spoiling me. It’s not my dream file browser but it’s pretty darn close and version 4 seems very promising. It certainly fits the bill as a “pro” file browser (although I’m not into that expression much either) in that it gives a lot of control over files that a graphical interface usually bypasses. Moreover, it highlights some shortcomings of the drag and drop metaphors by providing dedicated tools to overcome them (such as the drop stack) and was therefore at the center of much thinking on the topic, well into the night — hence the even more convoluted phrasing of this blog than is usually considered safe by the FCC.

Here I am, the long time Mac user, quitting my Finder at login (on my test machine at least). Is it wrong, Doctor?


2005-12-20 11:31:17
Path Finder
I generally don't understand much of the Finder bashing that goes on. It doesn't help that it's generally in the form of, "Why doesn't Apple fix the Finder?", as if we all can see that there are glaring problems with it. I just don't see them.

I figured maybe I'd see the light if I tried PathFinder. I'm on my second try. The first was a couple months ago. (It took a couple years and many tries to decide I liked LaunchBar, so this may take a while.) The interface is fairly appealing, but my general impression has been that it's a Finder that does too much. I don't want my Finder to do image and text editing. I'm not sure about the terminal drawer. I like my Terminal window, and I have a cmd-esc hot key to call it up. It seems like there are a lot of drawers hanging off the main window. Maybe I should close them. The application's preferences, at least at first, look like quite a jungle.

The one thing I really like about PathFinder compared to the Finder is the control I have over what appears on the desktop. I almost never need to go directly to any of my internal or external hard drives. I don't want them cluttering the desktop. But I like disk images and removable media to appear on the desktop. With the Finder, if I want removable media on the desktop, I also get my external drives. PathFinder does it the way I want.

It could be that there is a lot of power in all of PathFinder's various drawers and features and all of the features I haven't discovered yet, and I even feel slightly inclined to buy it before version 4 is released. But at the moment, it just feels really heavy. I'm not quite convinced yet.

2005-12-21 00:38:20
Why try?
I don't pretend to understand it. What I do know is that the Finder, along with a few choice services, can be memory hogs, and while those with new machines can get by without worry, those of us on older machines can easily see the problems with each new upgrade.

I tried Pathfinder 3 last night, and I do admit to liking it, though it's overkill in many cases. The features promised in PF4 sound really cool, and it's disappointing that many will not hit anything below Tiger. Hope Apple takes notice and considers adding these to the next versions of OS X. (Without bastardizing it, of course - We've seen what's happened to other ideas...)

2005-12-21 01:27:00
Path Finder

I do not believe any Finder bashing whatsoever is in order and this wasn't my intention, as you probably know. Like all applications that are more or less mandatory and at the center of our computing workflow, the Finder is more or less bound to be at the center of a heated debate but I do agree simply expecting its developers to "fix it" is unlikely to do much good.


2005-12-26 00:56:41
Path Finder
I wasn't referring specifically to your post as "bashing". But I've seen a lot of other definite bashing, mostly in the form I referred to earlier.

In any case, I have apparently seen the light. I've been using PathFinder since writing my last comment, and I think I'm going to pony up the cash and buy it. I've found some really great features that will tend to speed up my work a little bit.

The feature I found tonight that finally sold me on buying PathFinder relates to the terminal drawer. I can't say I really like the whole drawer thing a lot, but I found that when you open the terminal drawer, it opens in the directory that is currently selected in PathFinder. So when I downloaded rdesktop tonight, I double-clicked the archive to unpack it, opened the terminal drawer, and there I was doing my ./configure; make; sudo make install without having to first do the old cd Desktop/rdesktop-1.4.1 thing first. It's a small thing, I know, but given that I usually open a terminal window to work on a directory I'm already looking at in the Finder, it will save a lot of cd-ing in the long run. I also found the menu key editing menu and set up a command key combination to open the terminal drawer just like I used to open my terminal window before.

I'm another PathFinder convert!