Path Finder and ChangeDesktop

Path FinderPath Finder is Cocoatech’s ├╝berpowered replacement for Apple’s Mac OS X and its anemic Finder. It taps into a lot of Mac OS X’s command line power by putting a friendly interface onto some of X’s Unix underpinnings, adds plenty of time-saving functionality, and basically does everything you would expect ‘s Finder to do (but doesn’t).

On the Cocoatech Web site, there’s a rather lengthy and convoluted process to get OS X to use Path Finder as a complete replacement for the Finder. The basic gist is that ‘s Finder literally gets replaced by Path Finder - you remove the original Finder and put Path Finder (renamed “Finder.app”) in its place.

The big problem here is that this kills software updates that update the original Finder. Plus, it’s just too much work. Things don’t need to be this complex, however.

All you need to do to get Path Finder to run as your Finder is to:

  1. Launch ‘s Terminal.app, usually located in /Applications/Utilities
  2. Copy and paste the following command:
      defaults write com.loginwindow Finder "/Path/To/Path Finder.app"
    (Don’t forget to change /Path/To to the actual location of Path Finder, make sure there’s a space between Path and Finder, and yes, you need the quotes. This all goes on one line, too.)
  3. Quit the Terminal.app, and logout.

When you log in, Path Finder should automatically launch as your filebrowser. Hallelujah!

ChangeDesktopOne thing that’s currently missing from Path Finder is the ability to randomly display desktop backgrounds. Brian Bergstrand comes to the rescue with the freeware (and insanely great) ChangeDesktop, which works splendidly with Path Finder. Make sure that “Notify Applications” is checked in the ChangeDesktop preferences, and you’re all set!

My personal wishlist for Path Finder:

  1. Speed, speed, and more speed. Path Finder has made major advances in application speed, but it could still be springier. Path Finder is noticeably slower when drawing windows, especially in column view, and drawing menus. Speaking of springy…
  2. Support ‘s method of spring-loaded folders. There is spring-loaded functionality already, but there’s no way to trigger the “spring” (ie. with the spacebar), and no way to shorten the wait before the folder springs open. Also, it’d be really nice to actually have context-friendly spring-loadedness (open the folder in a new column when in column view, open a new window in icon view, and trigger the disclosure triangle in list view).
  3. Allow for folder-specific view settings. At the moment Path Finder only has settings for icon, list, and column view - there’s no way to set a single folder to a specific setting.

Still, for day-to-day use, Path Finder’s advanced functionality more than makes up for missing features, and developer Steve Gehrman is one of the hardest working coders around, releasing point-one updates that have more additions than most company’s point-zeros. In a word: Worthy!


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