Part of the transition to OSX is of course leaning to use Finder since file management is always such an important part of life in a operating system. Finder in Leopard is definitely improved, but since I often move files around from one folder to another I wasn’t finding the experience to my liking. In Windows though I almost never use Explorer either. I guess I just don’t like single pane file managers. In the days of DOS I use to love Norton Commander which was a dual pane file manager and Windows 3.1 and before also use to have a dual pane file manager. When Windows 95 came out I started looking for a Norton Commander clone to suit my needs and for over a decade I have been using a program called Servant Salamander. Silly name, but very powerful and has a ton a features I use often.
I think one of the basics a file manager should have is the ability to bookmark folders and then easily access them. This way you can easily move to your most used folders rapidly. Servant Salamander allowed you to use keyboard shortcuts to these folders and I found this indefensible. Unfortunately the file management program that come with OSs just don’t give you this capability and have very little flexibility as far as customization.
So I started looking for a file manager for OSX that had the flexibility and the power I wanted. I looked at a couple of dual pane file managers for OSX, but didn’t find any too my liking. Forklift is pretty good and had some of the features I wanted, just not enough of them. There is a freeware dual-pane file manager for OSX and other OS’s called muCommander that gives some basic features, but it doesn’t give you a solid OSX interface and has limited features.
Looking around I started seeing Pathfinder recommended by many users. When I looked at the screenshots I wasn’t much impressed with it looking like a standard file manager. But I ended up downloading it to check out the trail. It has a lot of features and is highly customizable and has a real enjoyable interface. It was the drop stack though that really sold me on it. The drop stack is an area that allows you to drag one or more files into it from multiple folders if you want. You can then easily change to another folder and drag the files from the drop stack into it. This gave me a much better experience in moving around files like I was use to in a Norton Command clone. I also like that it has multiple ways that you can access frequently used directories. There is a shelf where you can just drag favorite folders to, a tab bar where they can be placed, and even a Folder History panel that you can use that shows you a list of the last folders you have accessed.
So I ended up buying Pathfinder when my trial expired and wouldn’t you know it just a couple of days later it shows up as 20% off at MacSanta. Oh well.