First Looks: XtraFinder

XtraFinder, by Tran Ky Nam Software, is a free program that dramatically enhances the overall usefulness of the OS X Finder. XtraFinder sports a 0.16 version release (as of this writing), but even in such an embryonic state, it packs a wallop. (Hat tip to Scott Yoshinaga, of the brilliant webcomic Nemu-Nemu, for making me aware of this program.)

What It Does

XtraFinder is a super tiny app that installs itself within your menubar, and it does several neat things found in many of the paid Mac apps you may already use.

XtraFinder screenshots

First and foremost, XtraFinder gives the Finder a tabbed user interface. (Note to Apple: this should be a built-in feature.)

XtraFinder screenshots

As you may have noticed in the previous screenshot, you can replace the drab monochromatic sidebar icons with the colored variety, and also optionally view them with their label color. From a usability perspective, XtraFinder makes it much easier to find the sidebar folder you’re looking for.

With XtraFinder you can also customize the Finder’s text and background color. I’ve always favored white text on a darker background, and XtraFinder makes it easy to do that. Again, this is something I really wish the Finder would do out of the box.

XtraFinder also sports some window management prowess. Read on for more…

XtraFinder screenshots

From its pulldown menu, you can quickly open two windows together as vertical stacks…

XtraFinder screenshots

…or side by side. Both operations facilitate comparing and copying files and folders from one Finder location to another.

XtraFinder screenshots

XtraFinder also expands upon the Path Bar (located at the bottom of each Finder window), by providing a contextual menu showing folders above and below your current location. You can easily traverse up and down to any folder hierarchy with only one click from the Path Bar itself. This is a huge time-saving feature for me.

XtraFinder screenshots

The “Tabs” tab in XtraFinder’s preferences lets you customize its behavior and appearance. Custom keyboard shortcuts can also be assigned – which is great for power users.

XtraFinder screenshots

The “Features” tab gives the user the ability to cut and paste folders and files. This section is pretty self-explanatory (see the image below), and you can see the settings I’ve chosen for my own usage.

XtraFinder screenshots

The “Add items to Finder menu” tab gives the user the ability to add additional menu commands to the Finder menubar. Want to make a symbolic link quickly without firing up the Terminal? Simply check the “Make Symbolic Link” box and the command will appear in your Finder menu. And, should you prefer, XtraFinder once again gives users the ability to assign custom keyboard shortcuts for these commands.

XtraFinder screenshots

Conclusions

XtraFinder is powerful app that takes the best elements from apps like TotalFinder, Divvy, ForkLift, and PathFinder and combines it into one cohesive package. The program does not interfere one bit with any of my other apps. It just works. And it’s free! I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. So much so, that I’ve installed XtraFinder on both my Macs. If you’re frustrated by the Finder’s limitations, definitely give XtraFinder a try.

-Krishna

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About the author

Krishna Sadasivam creates custom comics and illustrations for organizations, magazines and companies. A champion of comics advocacy, Krishna speaks, blogs, and writes articles on illustration and sequential arts techniques and the importance of the comics medium in both education and brand awareness. His clients have included Microsoft, Mashable, Other World Computing and EE Times. His work has been featured on many notable websites, including TechCrunch, Gizmodo and CNET. His portfolio can be found at krishnadraws.com.

  • Cowicide

    There is one huge downside, dealbreaker for me, it doesn’t remember individual window position and sizes. It makes all your windows open up to the same P&S instead of the default Finder where every window has its own individual P&S. Bummer. Oh well, at least tabs are probably coming to 10.9

  • Nakki Nyan

    Don’t get excited. You can’t have white text on black background in icon view with or without icon preview. Pathfinder can do it but it is expensive and not that great if all you want is aesthetic changes.

    • http://www.pcweenies.com Krishna M. Sadasivam

      Very true, Nakki. I haven’t used icon view in years – I should have tested it. With Mavericks, XtraFinder is redundant. I no longer use it.

      • Nakki Nyan

        I just responded since this was near the top on the search I always do for color text, I check every so often just to see if there is a new hack.I use icon view not os much for icons (more scrolling) but for preview since I have to hunt for images all the time.