Path Finder is
a shareware program that can mostly replace the Finder on your Macintosh running
Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4). It includes many handy features, including built-in access
to the Terminal, Console, Text Editor, PDF viewer, and Preview frame. It goes beyond
the Finder by having advanced features, including tabs, customizable sidebars, fast
find capabilities, and multiple "drawers" for performing actions or keeping
track of files and processes. It also has an innovative Drop Stack for moving, burning,
and copying files, and a Selection utility that allows selection of files based on
multiple criteria. And unlike the Finder, Path Finder allows file sorting and has
enhanced sort options in all views, including column view.
Installation was a breeze - download the disk image, drag the icon to the short cut
for your applications folder and you're done. When you run the application, you'll
receive a splash screen allowing you to enter a license code, purchase options, or
to continue with a 21-day free trial.
Any Mac running OS X 10.4 or higher.
2.33 GHZ iMac 2GB memory.
Single user license is $34.95, Upgrades $17.95. Licenses can be purchased from CocoaTech.
The version reviewed was
Path Finder 4.5. Any version numbered 4 and above requires OS X Tiger (10.4.x).
Path Finder is an application with the capability of being used in place of the Finder,
becoming the "Finder on Steroids". The functionality of the Macintosh OS
X 10.4 Tiger Finder exists in Path Finder, with the added plus of accessibility of
other programs built into this one program. There is instant access to a terminal,
the console, a full featured text editor, and viewers for graphics and PDF files.
The main Path Finder window, analogous to Finder windows, includes tabs so that access
to your files is much quicker than in the Finder itself. Path Finder includes the
Stuffit engine, so archiving and unarchiving of files is quick and easy, with support
for all types that Stuffit supports.
Tabbed Browsing And the Bookmark Bar
Path Finder has a much requested feature - one due to show up in Leopard - Tabbed
Finder Windows, referred to as Tabbed Browsing. This is analogous to the tabbed windows
in Safari, but shows up in the Path Finder "Finder" windows, allowing multiple
windows to be open within one Path Finder Window, accessible by clicking the appropriate
tab in the Tab Bar.
Tabbed Browsing and Bookmark Bar
Along with Tabbed Browsing,
Path Finder allows the user to put frequently used folders into the Bookmark Bar
(see above). Clicking a bookmark opens a drop-down menu that takes you to the folder
the bookmark represents, or any sub-folder.
Path Finder makes it easy to view file contents with its special viewers. The
PDF viewer opens PDF files much faster than Adobe Reader does, right within Path
Finder. The Preview window (not to be confused with Apple's "Preview" application)
allows the user to preview video, image text, audio, and even HTML files without
needing to open a dedicated program like Quicktime Player or Safari.
The built-in Text Editor
uses OS X 10.4 technologies to render and edit text files (including Microsoft Word
documents) within Path Finder. This includes styled text, paragraph control, and
even text-to-speech, all from within the Path Finder program.
Path Finder Text Editor
If you want to look at
a file byte-by-byte, the the hex viewer will do just that.
Additionally, Path Finder has a built-in terminal application that allows the user
instant access to the OS X terminal functionality without needing to launch Apple's
Terminal application. This is a full fledged UNIX terminal, with all the advantages
and pitfalls that implies.
Path Finder Terminal Window
Unique to Path Finder
are two features that make file management incredibly easy. The first is the Select
Tool. With the Select Tool, you have control over what you select well beyond the
shift-click or command-click control of the Finder.
Path Finder Selection Tool
You have access to many
different criteria, and in what is part Find command and part Selection, you can
create individualized selection cases. You can then open, move, copy, or even burn
the selection results.
The second true innovation of Path Finder is the Drop Stack. You can select items,
place them in the Drop Stack, and then move, copy, or burn items from the Drop Stack
- virtually anywhere.
Path Finder Drop Stack
Path Finder also includes
a myriad of convenience features. There is a Change Extension Tool that lets you
change the file extensions on a batch of files, the aforementioned Terminal and Console
windows, and the PDF viewer that is far faster than Preview or Acrobat Reader. Path
Finder has a Fast Search that takes over where Spotlight peters out. There is an
image conversion facility (PNG to JPG, for instance), an Application menu for quickly
finding and switching applications, and .Mac integration. Finally, my favorite feature,
non-restrictive sorting of files regardless of view. That means that no matter what
viewing mode the user selects (as Icon, as List, or as Columns), the Path Finder
program allows you to sort by name, date, size, kind, etc., either up or down.
Path Finder's Sort Criteria
While it is hard to find
anything associated with the Finder that Path Finder does not do, there are a couple
of limitations. While it is possible to quit the Finder within Path Finder, if something
within Tiger calls for the Finder explicitly, it will open the Finder, not revert
to Path Finder. An example of this is downloading files via Safari. When the download
is complete, Safari activates the Finder, and the Finder pops open and into the foreground,
an annoyance. For those who like using the Finder's virtual desktop environment and
are looking for something to resolve associated known bugs in the current version
of Apple's Finder (bugs that have been around since Mac OS 10.0), Path Finder does
not fill that specific need.
The Path Finder interface is definitely more complex than Apple's Finder, but
still maintains an intuitive feel. A beginner would quickly pick up enough to be
able to operate a Macintosh with Path Finder installed - and find the resulting "Finder
on Steroids" superior to the OS X Finder. The help facility can walk the new
user through many of the features, and curiosity reveals more features that are not
well documented. I've now used Path Finder for over 8 months and have not had a single
problem with it. The interface represents a good mix of simplicity with advanced
CocoaTech's Path Finder is a worthy tool for the Mac OS X user. It sports an intuitive
yet feature-rich interface that truly brings you the "Finder on Steroids".
It improves the
Finder experience with features such as tabbed browsing and enhanced sort options,
while also including built-in access to the Terminal, Console, Text Editor, and special
viewers. Path Finder's advanced features truly enhance the Finder experience in OS
X. Path Finder is
not perfect, but CocoaTech is continually making improvements. My biggest complaint
about Path Finder is the lack of a comprehensive manual. There is so much to this
program, that it is hard to know everything that is possible to do with it. This
review has only touched the surface, and many aspects were only found by "rummaging"
through the program's menus and acceptably deep help file. Whether you are looking
for a quick dip into the Terminal, frustrated by Apple's Finder limitations in sorting,
or looking for what is almost an all-in-one browsing experience, Path Finder does
- Great Finder Replacement
- Many Special and Unique
- Fast PDF Viewer
- Unrestricted Sorting
- Lack of comprehensive
- Annoying pop-ups from
- Does not address virtual
4 out of 5 Mice