Super GetInfo 1.2, by Bare Bones Software
Posted: 18-Mar-2005

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Bare Bones Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewers: Bud Simrin Class: UTILITY

Overview
Super GetInfo is basically Apple's GetInfo (Cmd-I) on steroids. This review covers the OS X version. The pre-OS X Super GetInfo was very popular because it had a layout similar to GetInfo and also allowed users to easily modify a file's Creator and Type. Since many downloads came with missing or incorrect Creator and Type codes, this was extremely useful on an everyday basis.

In OS X, Bare Bones has added the capability to change creation and modification dates as well as Unix owner, group, and permission codes. It can do these things for a single file or in batch mode. It has tossed in a handy way to empty the trash and lets you drag and drop OS X and Unix full pathnames as well as file icons to other applications. In keeping with OS X, Super GetInfo supports Contextual Menus and Services, and it is also available from Terminal.

Not everyone has a need for the capabilities of Super GetInfo, but for those that do, this is a very nice utility, very professionally done as we have come to expect from the creators of BBedit, almost flawless in execution, and has a very friendly and intuitive user interface.

Features

  • View and edit the Macintosh type and creator codes associated with a file
  • Change type and creator codes with drag and drop, or with a pop-up menu configurable with your favorite settings
  • View and edit the Unix owner, group, and permission settings associated with a file or folder
  • Apply folder permission settings to all enclosed items
  • Change a file or folder's creation and modification dates
  • Copy (or drag and drop) a file or folder's path info
  • "Open With" contextual menu plug-in - allows you to open files in Super Get Info simply by control-clicking their icons in the Finder
  • Convenient Finder keyboard shortcut
  • Get info on invisible files and folders
  • Open more than one info window at a time
  • Easily navigable tabbed interface
  • Super "Empty Trash" command, allows you to empty the Trash even when the Finder claims you don't have enough privileges
  • Integration with DragThing - the premier Mac OS application launcher
  • BBEdit and TextWrangler integration
  • Command-line interface - "SGI" command-line tool makes it simple to open info windows for files and folders from the Mac OS X Terminal
  • Preview file contents
  • "Reveal in Finder" menu item
  • Edit file and folder comments
  • Integration with Default Folder
  • Mac OS X Services support


Requirements
Mac OS X 10.2 or later; Mac OS X 10.3.5 or later strongly recommended.

Price
$20 retail

Setup
Installation is a snap, although it does require administrator privileges. The installer smoothly guides through the process, giving options to install the command line tool and the contextual menu plug-ins. Both plug-ins are clearly explained during the process. At the end of installation, the user is presented the GetInfo dialog box to examine, and pointed to documentation available in the Help pull-down menu. The program is immediately ready to run. There are only a few minor Preferences to configure and they can be set later.

In Use
Using Super GetInfo (SGI) is as simple as highlighting one or more icons and clicking Cmd-Option-I (or whatever hotkey combination you select in Preferences). Cmd-I still opens regular GetInfo (GI) and remains available. The result of Cmd-Option-I clicking on a couple of icons is the pair of GetInfo dialog boxes illustrated.


Super GetInfo information windows

One inconvenience of SGI is that it cannot select a folder or disk in the Columns View, but rather provides a message to change Views. It selects FILES just fine from any View.

As will be illustrated often in this review, SGI is not so much a replacement for the OS X GetInfo as a supplement to it. As an example, when selecting multiple files, the 2 programs behave differently. SGI opens separate windows for each file, very useful when comparing files. GI opens just a single window, but that is useful for changing all the files at once. Since SGI does duplicate many of the GetInfo capabilities, an unknowing user might judge it on whether its changes are better or worse than the original, and that would be a mistake. Both programs can and should co-exist. Using them both greatly expands the range of quick files changes that is possible. Using only one or the other provides much less capability.

INFO TAB
The Info Tab provides basic information about the file as shown. In addition, at the Info Tab one can quickly change Creator, Type, dates, lock/unlock, visibility status, and whether the file is a stationary pad (i.e., a template). A neat way made available to change Creator and Type is to drag a file from the Finder that has the Creator and Type you want onto either of those boxes. Another really fast way is to just highlight a file in the list of common file types. A nice bonus I found while using SGI was when I was unable to use the Finder to change the name of a folder, and Finder wouldn't provide an error message or reason. The standard GetInfo also wouldn't allow me to make the name change. However, SGI quite readily allowed it but requested my Admin password, explaining that I otherwise lacked privileges to do this. A nice work around when permissions are hosed.

Compare the main SGI window to the standard GI window.


Standard OS X GetInfo Window

SGI provides additional size information (i.e., resource and data forks), an Invisible checkbox, ability to change dates, and info on and ability to change Creator and Type codes. Both let you copy the icon or paste another icon over the one displayed, but SGI additionally lets you drag the icon into a document such as Word. Look closely at SGI and you will also see a tiny drive icon just below the name on the right side. Pressing and holding the mouse button on that icon provides the ability to quickly copy both the OS X and Unix full pathnames.


Super GetInfo Path Pull Down menu

To illustrate this, the paths for the subject example are as follows:

HFS path: Macintosh HD:Transfer:PSTImport100.dmg
POSIX Path: /Volumes/Macintosh HD/Transfer/PSTImport100.dmg

The SGI window has some other nice features that are subtle. Command clicking on the name at the top generates the standard OS X pop-up menu with the path components. That capability is lacking in GI. Selecting "Show Catalog Info" from the View pull-down menu brings up a hidden tab as shown in the figure below.


Super GetInfo Catalog window extension

Furthermore, the File pull-down menu lets you select additional files to display using standard navigation but also by Catalog Info (i.e., by volume information, directory ID, name). It also allows you to easily select invisible files. The "Type and Creator Favorites" selection in the Super GetInfo pull-down menu lets you create and store creator and type information sets and to easily change file types from the list.

Another behavior that is quite different in SGI compared to GI is selecting an alias file. SGI skips the alias altogether and directly gives information for the actual file. Often this is what I wish to do and so this is a nice feature. However, sometimes I want to reattach or change an alias path, and this can only be done with GI. This is another good example of how the two program capabilities complement each other.


Standard GetInfo has the "Select New Original" button


OWNERSHIP AND PERMISSIONS
Use the next figure to compare the respective Permissions Views of SGI and GI.


Setting permissions - Super GetInfo vs OS X GetInfo

They provide basically the same information and change capabilities. Personally, I slightly prefer the GI "plain English" approach, but rather than duplicate this, Bare Bones has smartly chosen to provide the standard Unix layout. Note that in the case of folders, SGI has provided the capability to propagate Ownership and Permissions separately, giving somewhat more control to the user. Moreover, on packages (such as applications), SGI treats the file like a folder and provides the capability to propagate permissions and ownership whereas as GI treats an application as a single file. There are pros and cons to both approaches - control versus simplicity.

Finder TAB
On the Finder tab, SGI has provided one nice extra not found in GI - ability to apply labels (and colors).


Super GetInfo Finder settings


PREVIEW TAB
The Preview tab is a place where SGI really shines.


Super GetInfo Preview

Not only does SGI display more of a document than GI, but in fact it displays the ENTIRE document. Note the slide bar at the bottom that enables page changing. SGI is not able to preview certain file types like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Alepin, and font files. To its credit it can view plain text, pdf, jpeg, and pict files.

OPEN WITH
One screen that GI has that is missing in SGI is "Open With". GI is still necessary if, say, a pdf file opens with Preview by default, but you wish instead to open the particular file with Acrobat Reader (either just one time or permanently), or if the file type has no default and you wish to assign one, globally. Presumably Bare Bones found no special need to improve this screen and so just omitted it. Again, SGI is not designed to replace GI, but rather to supplement it.

PREFERENCES
Preferences are quite simple with just a few options. Besides letting you set a hot key combination for opening an SGI window for a file, the only other choices are to select a shortcut key combination to empty the trash, a checkbox to align multiple SGI windows in rows, a question mark that brings up SGI Help Viewer, and options to install the command line and contextual menu tools. With the exception of Help Viewer, which is very well organized and written (a big plus), I consider the other add-on options to be merely interesting but not really essential.

For example, in Terminal you can type sgi <filename> and a SGI window will immediately open in the Finder, and that may possibly be useful for those who spend a lot of time in Terminal. You can also use the SGI contextual menu (simply control click on a file or folder icon and select the SGI menu option), but it is easier to just use the hotkey. Finally, the empty trash option is a nice perk, but I had a bit of trouble with it. Using the hotkey to empty trash works fine if SGI is not already active. However, if SGI is already launched, it times out when trying to use the hotkey to empty the trash (it appears that is is waiting for SGI to launch even though it is already launched). One possibly very useful feature is that SGI claims to be able to empty the trash even in situations when the trash can't be emptied normally. I was not able to create such a situation and so could not verify this feature. It would certainly be convenient to empty the trash under such a situation with just a hotkey. For example, I currently run Cocktail to handle such situations and that is a multi-step several-minute affair.

Interface
SGI has a Mac savvy interface, and performed reliably in all my tests. It has nice little shortcuts as well, such as being able to option-click on the red ball in one window to close all of the SGI windows.

SGI is not without its faults. Some interface annoyances include having the application stay open even after all windows are closed, and not working with LaunchBar. I also found that if an icon is an alias to a folder on a server, when the server is disconnected, SGI dispays a cryptic message that "the selection is empty" (GI states that the path has been lost). Also, on my system, the preference to arrange windows had no effect. This could be a function of my window size since that is supposed to affect how this option works. However, I tried a couple of different resolutions with no success. Finally, if one moves a file such that the path changes while its SGI window is open, the pathname is not updated in the window. Moreover, an error will occur if you then try to use SGI to make file changes. GI, on the other hand, properly auto-updates the pathname and continues to work.

For the average Mac user, SGI provides several functions of interest that GI does not:

  • Preview graphics
  • Preview the full text content of files (not just the first screen)
  • Compare information between files
  • Drag and drop complete OS X path names to documents
  • Quickly and easily change the file names of protected files
  • Get information on an original file by clicking on it's alias. (This takes 2 clicks with standard GI and opens a second window)
  • Force-empty the trash when it gets stuck
  • Keyboard shortcut for emptying the trash

In addition to the common functions listed above, developers and power users will enjoy the following SGI functions that GI does not provide:

  • Provides quick file size information about Resource and Data forks in addition to total file size.
  • Can be quickly accessed from the command line by typing sgi <filename>
  • Drag and drop Unix path names to documents
  • Change ownership and permissions quickly and easily with precise control on inheritance
  • Drag and drop icons onto program documents

Some of the key feature that makes SGI attractive is the capability to change Creator and Type codes and Creation/Modification dates. Those are necessary capabilities from pre-OS X that are missing in OS X. On the other hand, in OS X there is rarely a need to make such changes except by developers or those working with OS 9 files and Classic applications. SGI also makes it a snap to change ownership and permissions. Although GI already does a good job of that, SGI provides more control than is possible with GI. SGI also makes it easy to add labels, a capability that does not exist in GI.

Summary
Super GetInfo, by the authors of BBedit, is a very stable, intuitive program that provides a means to access and change more file information than can be accomplished using the OS X GetInfo command alone. In situations where one would normally invoke the OS X GetInfo (GI) command (Cmd-I), the Super GetInfo (SGI) command (Cmd-Option-I) is superior more often than not. However, users will want to continue to use both. While SGI does duplicate some GI functions, it isn't designed so much to replace GI functions as it is to provide additional ones. The two are meant to work together. SGI provides a lot of functionality with just a single click of the mouse. Super GetInfo is an extremely well thought-out, professionally written program with a friendly user interface and virtually no major bugs. It does everything it advertises to do. For users who have frequent need to change file attributes, SGI is a "must have" utility. For the average Mac user, it provides enough useful features to enhance your Mac experience.

Pros

  • Mac savvy interface
  • Simple to use
  • Provides missing capabilities for modifying file attributes
  • Many nice drag and drop features for modifying file attributes and for copying pathnames and icons


Cons

  • Not all Mac users may be excited over the features
  • Problem with changing a file's path while SGI window is still open


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice