TotalFinder Lion a Better Finder App

Personalise and configure your Mac

One of the great things about having a Mac is that you can twiddle and fiddle with it by adding extra utilities. The Apple haters always like to say that when using a Mac you have to do it the Apple way or the highway. Personally I think that it is just one of their excuses for putting up with an inferior way of computing. There are applications which you can use to improve upon Spotlight such as Trickster and if you want to improve the finder app then you can use TotalFinder Mac which is by binaryage. There are applications which include a lot of functionality and do lots of things and then you have applications such as Yoink which is a one trick pony. You can use Yoink to move files into applications that have gone Mac OS X Lion full-screen. Here is a TotalFinder Review.

Totalfinder Lion

A better Finder with TotalFinder

What is it for, what does it do and why do you need it? Well, TotalFinder in many ways works just like the original finder that you get with your Mac, but it does give you some specialised added functionality. One of the features that Mac users yearn for within the ordinary finder would be tabbed Finder windows. So instead of having a number of Finder windows scattered across your desktop, you have just one file Finder window with tabs. You can then have two locations or more on your system open, and very easily switch between them. Combine that with a copy and paste files action, you have a very good ease-of-use scenario. In later versions of Mac OSX Lion Finder it is possible to do a copy and paste of files and even to do a move of files, but TotalFinder is still useful in Lion.

Mac OS X quick tip

In TotalFinder Lion or in your ordinary Mac OS Finder application, do the right click on the files that you wish to copy and choose copy. Then go to the place where you want to put those files. If you are an icon view, you can tap in an empty space with two fingers on your Magic Trackpad to do the equivalent of a right click, and you’ll see the option to paste. Choose the paste option and those files will be copied into that folder. If you press the option key after you have got that context sensitive menu showing, you will instead see an option to move the files instead of copy.

Using the TotalFinder plug-in

The installation of TotalFinder is easy to do, there is an installer which automates the process for you. And on the website for the application you will also see the instructions for uninstalling TotalFinder. So you don’t need to worry that a seemingly low-level application like this is going to kill your computer.

To a certain extent you will not notice a huge difference from OS X Finder at first. This is because TotalFinder is an enhancement of Finder rather than a complete replacement. You will still switch to Finder to manipulate your files and folders, but you will be able to do more things. One of the first features that you will notice, will be the tabs. Seeing as you are already familiar with the concept of using tabs as per your web browser, it will not be difficult for you to understand how to switch between tabs. You may find it handy to be able to change the order of those tabs and you do that by just dragging the tab to where you want it. Also, just the same as within Safari you can drag one those tabs completely out of the window to create a new TotalFinder window.

Using dual mode in TotalFinder

In the ordinary Finder you have to have two Finder windows open if you want to drag-and-drop between two Mac OS X folders. In TotalFinder you can use a keyboard shortcut or you can double-click on a tab and you will see two folders side-by-side. This is quite useful to have just one window open showing two places. It makes it extremely easy for the drag-and-drop of your content. By the way, many users are unaware of the fact that you can use Cmd Z to undo something that you have just done in Finder or TotalFinder.

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When you are in dual mode in TotalFinder Mac, you do lose the ability to click in the top of the column to affect the sorting of the files. At least that is the case in the second of your dual windows. Nor can you change the width of the columns. There is a button on the toolbar though, that you can use to choose which column you want it sorted on. So you could choose to sort by name or date added, or size of file, for example. So if you need to do some specific sorting with the files in one of the folders, just make sure it is in the folder to the left. In fact in my testing, I’ve just noticed that is not just in dual mode where this is the case. You will need to use the icon to set your sort criteria in all of the extra tabs.

Opening more tabs in TotalFinder

If you drag a folder from your list of files and folders up to the tab bar, that will open it up as a tab. The shortcut to open up a new tab is Cmd T. You can close a selected tab with Cmd W and you can use the Cmd shift with the arrow keys to switch between tabs. I do like it when I can use easy keyboard shortcuts to do things with applications, it does tend to make things much quicker.

In your default Finder application the files on the folders are displayed mixed together. With total folder you can have it so that the folders are displayed first in the list followed by the list of files. You can change to this type of display within TotalFinder by using a keyboard shortcut. Personally, I have got used to the files and folders been mixed, but I could see that some people would find it handy this other way.

Showing the system files in TotalFinder

It is a safety measure that in the normal Finder that you can’t see the hidden system files. As an advanced user then you might want to be able to see them and again this is possible with a toggle short cut key.

Finder app

The Visor mode for advanced users

It could be handy for you to always have your TotalFinder window displayed in one position, such as at the bottom of the screen. To this end, in the preferences you can set up a thing called Visor. You can choose a toggle shortcut key or you can use the two clicks on the option key to bring up TotalFinder in Visor mode. It is recommended that you use this when the dock is set to auto hide.

When you’re using the Visor and you switch to another application, that TotalFinder visor window will drop down out of sight. If you want to keep it present on the screen, then you can use a shortcut key to pin the Visor. You can also click on the blue button in the top left corner, so that the window stays visible on the screen. I am not quite sure if I like this Visor view, but I am prepared to leave it switched on for a while and give it a try.

What is the verdict on TotalFinder?

Undoubtedly, TotalFinder is a very useful tool to use with your Mac. If you are the only person using a computer then it is a good personalisation to have at your disposal. If you are a Mac user that has to use other computers, then you could be annoying yourself. You will be possibly pressing keyboard shortcuts on other computers and expecting things to happen and they won’t.

The developer of the application is a one-man band with TotalFinder and is committed to providing a good, well functioning application. I’m guessing that TotalFinder probably started out with the intention to provide the developer with better functionality than he got with Finder and found he had a product on its hands. These are often the most useful applications that you can get.

Choosing to use TotalFinder Lion

There are other applications such as Pathfinder, Forklift and DiskOrder which do similar things. There is a debate about TotalFinder vs PathFinder. TotalFinder is probably easier to switch to and to learn how to use, as it is more a layer over the top of your ordinary Finder app. Like so many things with your Mac and your computing workflow, TotalFinder Lion is a personal decision. Whether you buy it or not will depend upon how you like to do things. It is quite likely that the functionality within TotalFinder will tempt you to buy it. I would say that the least you can do is to download it and give it a try. That way you can make an informed decision about whether it suits the way that you work. I wonder what will happen when Mountain Lion comes out? Will TotalFinder get Sherlocked? TotalFinder gets a thumbs up from Mac20Q. You can get a TotalFinder serial for $18. I have not seen a TotalFinder coupon as the app is quite inexpensive for the value that it provides anyway.