For your everyday file management on your Mac, Finder is the way to go. But if you want to do some heaving lifting, you’ll need more horsepower. When you need the biggest guns, several companies make full Finder replacement utilities, but even if you don’t need a total file management overhaul, you can find some Finder alternatives that will help make your day-to-day data shuffling a little snappier.
1. Path Finder
Path Finder is the elder statesman of Finder alternative applications and my personal favorite. It might be called a “Finder replacement,” but that’s not as drastic as it sounds. Path Finder doesn’t modify or replace the built-in Finder program. Instead, it runs simultaneously, providing advanced functionality and new tools in a different application. It “replaces” Finder in the sense that, if you love Path Finder, you won’t need to use the vanilla Finder again.
Path Finder brings a dual pane interface and dozens of advanced tools. It will also tell you more than you ever wanted to know about your data. Slide up the extra panes on the bottom, and you can see detailed file info, attributes, hex code, preview data, permissions, and more. You can even open a Terminal window in one of the panes for your on-the-spot command line needs.
2. Commander One
Commander One ranks with Path Finder as a fully-developed, mature Finder alternative. You’ll find dual pane browsing and a few advanced tools here, too, but in a simpler package. The many panes and windows are gone, and the user interface is trimmed down to focus on moving and copying files.
Commander One also offers great connectivity. It integrates with FTP, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Amazon S3, connecting your local files to your server from the same application.
Dragging and dropping to copy files in Finder is a pain. You need to find the file you want to copy, figure out where to put it, open the source and destination side by side, and finally drag and drop. The inefficiency makes my eyes water.
Yoink does one thing, and it does it well; it makes dragging and dropping simpler. The program provides an auto-expanding window on the side of your screen where you can temporarily drop files for later use. So once you’ve found the file you need to move, you can tuck it away.
Like Yoink, Unclutter aims to make file management easier by giving you a place to temporarily shove stuff. But it goes beyond files, giving you a spot for notes and clipboard history too.
The additional feature of the notes pane is especially helpful, giving you a place to quickly stow important text temporarily. The clipboard history viewer means that when you accidentally nuke your clipboard, you can go back and recover what you lost.
But who wants drag and drop when you can get your hands dirty with programmatic file management? Few people fully understand everything in Hazel‘s sweeping power, but that doesn’t make it any less useful. Program a few conditions (like file age, location, name, etc.), tell Hazel what to do when those conditions are met, and press Go.
You can automate and schedule thankless tasks like clearing old junk out of your Downloads folder, creating complex renaming schemes, and even more. Some users have synthesized complex office tasks, turning Hazel into their personal filing assistant.
Which Finder alternatives you choose depends on how substantial your needs are. Are you interested in a long-term upgrade to your file management chops? Path Finder is a great choice. Need something to make copying less of a pain? Check out Yoink. And if you want the ultimate control and don’t mind putting in some setup time, Hazel is where it’s at.