Moving from Path Finder to TotalFinder

I’ve been a Path Finder user for years but now I’m moving to TotalFinder. I wanted to run down some of the features I used in Path Finder and how I use them now.

Batch file renaming — In Path Finder I used command-R to rename one or more files, but in TotalFinder that pops up the AirDrop window. I used Apple > System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts to change the AirDrop shortcut to control-option-command-R so don’t trigger this accidentally. These days Finder has good enough batch file renaming ability.

Smart folders — Finder’s abilities here are good enough for me; I create folders based on file type, create/modify/add dates, file size, and words in content.

Open in Terminal — After I open a terminal window, in the terminal window I type "cd " (don’t press return) and then I drag the folder from the finder window into the terminal window (this completes the line) and press return. This works without having to copy the path onto the clipboard.

Create symbolic link — For easy Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon Drive sync, it was really handy to create symbolic links of folders and drag them into the odrive folder. Create Symbolic Link was in the context menu with Path Finder. Now, I drop into the Terminal and type "ln -s ". I drag the file or folder from the Finder window in to fill in the source path, then I type something like “myfolder-link” to fill in the link name. This creates the new symbolic link and I drag it into odrive.

Show invisible folders — This is now “Show system files”, command-shift-U. There’s no way to add it to the Toolbar.

Filter list — I don’t see a way to do this in TotalFinder. This is really important to me, and probably the only major loss I feel in moving from Path Finder to TF. Finding files and filtering a long list of files are not the same thing at all.

Git integration — I don’t see a way to do this in TotalFinder, of course, but there are a number of alternatives, and I need to check them out.

If you have Path Finder features you used and have found a workaround in Finder or TotalFinder, please share them. (And please, let’s not turn this into speculation or bashing on Path Finder.)

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Hi [mike3d0g]:
TF is built on an architecture using code injection. It hooks into Apple’s Finder WHILE FINDER IS RUNNING and literally replaces some of the Finder code with its own at runtime, but at the end it still relies on Finder to perform all the main functions including display. This approach allows for very light and fast integration and enhancement of EXISTING Finder functionality, which was I believe always the intent of TF and its developer from the beginning, a FAST, lightweight dual pane enhancement to Finder, with minimal added bells and whistles.

However, the code injection approach is not so good for adding functionality that isn’t already inherent in Finder. PF takes / took a different approach, it is a stand alone app that bypasses Finder all together. Being stand alone, the devs can implement much more functionality, even functions that macOS and Finder don’t already have. Both products have their place, both have their respective market position, and the respective pricing and people resources required to go along with it to support it There is a limit to what can be done using code injection; it also is a slippery slope approach because at any time Apple can “pull the rug out” by making changes in the Finder code that can break TF. As stand alone apps, PF and Forklift don’t have to worry about that. With every new release of macOS, Apple continues to tighten the security and close up possible loopholes, which IT SHOULD. One of the few remaining loop holes that still work for the time being, is code injection. Code injection , in the hands of someone who wants to be malicious, is like handing a gun to a serial killer, and saying ‘Have at it.’

If you understand programming, you know that code injection is actually somewhat dangerous (like walking a tight rope) and a security risk. It is a method that literally allows a NON Apple app to come in and MODIFY how a Apple operating system app (in this case Finder) runs. Yeah, sure you still need to give it Admin password and all that on install, but so what, users do that almost without thinking anytime they install a new app. As an Apple Dev myself, the indications have been there for many years that Apple is going to prevent code injection at some point.

IMO, TF fits a specfic niche, people who want a light weight, fast dual pane file manager. It’s priced at $12, it’s maintained by a one-man shop (or at most a few guys). The price is right for what it does and what niche it is marketed towards. I’ve used PF and Forklift (registered user of both) and when I need them, I use them. This is not about saying one app is better or worse. PF and Forklift are appropriately priced higher, for the added functionality, and but also require more development and cust support and manpower to maintain. So, I could be wrong, but I don’t see TF heading down the road of adding more and more features, especially those not already enabled in some way by Finder itself, without a fundamental and dramatic shift in the architecture, dev and support resources and manpower, all which requires time and results in a marketing and price shift.

Now, TF does allow, just as Finder ALREADY DOES, to add app links on the Toolbar, these include existing apps or apps you create using Automator or AppleScript. You add an app link by holding Command, then drag the app to the Toolbar, you will see a mini version of the app icon placed on the Toolbar. ANY app can be added to the toolbar this way, including apps you create using Automator or Applescript. For example, if you add a link on the Toolbar to Terminal, you can simply drag a folder to the Terminal icon in the Toolbar and it will open a Terminal window with that folder ALREADY current, no typing of ‘cd’ required. I use this every day.

YOu can create an AppleScript or Automator applet that will duplicate virtually ANY keyboard combination or system command, then add those apps to the Toolbar, you can even give them custom icons. So anything that is possible with Automator or Applescript, you have access to, saved as an app, then placed on the Toolbar. For example, Show Invisible Folders is Command-Shift-. (period) in TF. This code in AppleScript duplicates Command-Shift-. (period)

tell application “Finder”
end tell

tell application “System Events”
keystroke “.” using {command down, shift down}
end tell

Just 6 lines of code, put this in the AppleScript editor, compile, Export it as an APP. Give it a custom app icon if you want (Google it, it’s very easy in macOS to change app icon). Put the app in your Applications or Utilities folder. Add to the Toolbar by dragging to Toolbar with Command key held down. Now, when you click on the icon, it executes that key combination and toggles Show Invisible Folders. I’ve created apps that toggle List/Icon/Column View, dual pane mode, empty Trash, create new folder, launch automator apps, and added them to Toolbar. I created an Automator app that takes the current highlighted file and applies a pre-determined renaming, or adds to iTunes and creates a playlist from it, just with one click on the Toolbar. You can very easily write an applescript that would automate creating symlinks for the current highlighted file or drive.

NOw before you jump on me, I GET IT, that you would like TF to have that functionality already without you having to write Automator or AppleScript, and you certainly have the right to request those features. For the reasons I stated above, I just don’t see it happening anytime soon the way TF is currently architectured and sold as a $12 app. And that is not a knock on TF or PF, both excellent products, just intended for different market niches. Personally, I wouldn’t want TF to get anymore sophisticated as it is. I want it to stay fast and light, if I want the ‘kitchen sink’ then I run PF or Forklift. Complexity rarely goes hand in hand with speed and efficiency, it is a trade off you have to balance carefully. For batch renaming I recommend ‘A Better File Renamer’ by PublicSpace, it is extremely powerful.



I feel like you didn’t read my post, but I read all of yours.

I appreciate the tip about adding apps to the Finder Tool bar. That’s handy and I’ll see if I can add a “create symbolic link” script to share here.

Is there a repository of common AppleScripts? Creating a symbolic link and “open in terminal” seem like a common-ish things that someone may have already created. And if not, I’ll see if I can create and share them.

Thanks again.

Thanks again for your tip about adding AppleScripts to the Finder menu bar. The hardest part (and it wasn’t hard) was creating the iconset.

Here’s the tutorial I used for the icons.

And here’s the final result.

I’m long winded, one of my faults ;-). I did read all of your post, the gist I got was that you wanted various features added to TF, as have many users throughout the years. My point was that due to the way it is currently architected, the minimal dev staff, the price point, I would not expect much in the way of added features beyond what Finder is already capable of. Basically trying to set realistic expectation, you being a new TF user. To support my view, consider TF has been around awhile, I’ve been using since Snow Leopard macOS, I can’t remember when I didn’t. In all that time, despite numerous enhancement requests, the program is essentially unchanged, just refinements and bug fixes, usually because of something breaking as a result of Apple making changes in Finder.

You don’t need applescript to implement the Open Terminal on current folder feature you wanted. Open a Finder window (with TF of course). Locate the Terminal app in Utilities folder. Hold down Command key, drag the Terminal app into the Toolbar. A small Terminal icon now shows on the Toolbar. If you just click on it, it will open a Terminal in your Home folder. If you highlight a folder in Finder and drag it and drop onto the Terminal icon in the Toolbar, a Terminal window will open with that folder as current. Generally speaking, with any app that you add to the Toolbar as an icon/shortcut, whatever you drag and drop onto it is passed to that app as an argument/parameter. If you put Microsoft Word on the Toolbar, and drag and drop a DOC file on it, Word will be launched and open on that file.

If you aren’t a programmer or don’t intend to use AppleScript routinely, rather than trying to learn it (there are SO many commands and how they are used, even I have to look up all the time), I would simply identify what it is you want to do, then search specifically for that, like “applescript to create symbolic link”. I just did that in Google and the top three results give examples on how to exactly do that.
Good Luck!

Thanks again – My intent was to run down features I used to have in Path Finder, and put up alternatives or workarounds for TotalFinder. The only open feature request I really have is to filter (not find) long file lists.

I don’t want to slag Path Finder, I’ve used it for years and love it, but I suspect they’re at a crossroads and other users maybe be checking out TotalFinder as an alternative. My list is to show that for many features, this might work. It’s working for me.

That’s another really great tip about drag-and-drop into the Finder tool bar. I had no idea. I have two or three apps in my dock, like Send to Kindle, that will be terrific additions to the tool bar. This is pretty cool indeed!

EAsier way to create icons for use as app icon or to assign to a folder.
Ancient, completely free, still works. Very simple. Drag any PNG, JPG, ICNS on to it.
WEb is full of free to use icons. Two of my favorites sources:
ONly drawback of FastIcns is it pre-dates Retina displays, so can’t make the high def 2x versions of icons for Retina. If you’re like me and LOVE to change icons on all my folders (can’t stand every folder being the same monochromatic color, what’s the point, why even have an icon when you have to read the label anyway to identify the folder?), then invest $4.99 and get

IconFly was worth every penny. Thanks again.

Yoink is an improvement over Path Finder’s drop stack. It’s available in the App Store for a few bucks.

My move from PF to TotalFinder is going very well. I hadn’t noticed how much faster Finder is than Path Finder because I hadn’t used the actual Finder in years. The speed is refreshing.