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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Unhappy with the Mac's Finder? Here's Two Alternatives

Supercharge your Finder for $20 or should you wait until Mavericks?

While you and I wait for Mavericks to arrive this fall, the Finder for 10.8.4 remains much the same as it was with 10.4.11 Tiger. No Tabs and a single pane to view files. What can you do for $20 to supercharge the Finder today? I will look at two programs with differing approaches.

Fast Commander 1.0 by Piotr Zagawa

This app costs $19.00. When I double-clicked on it, it came up with the warning that it came from an unidentified developer. You must change your security settings to allow unsigned apps to open. Whatever the reason, this lack of identification is a definite minus.

If you came from a DOS background, you will recognize the default color scheme of Fast Commander as that of Norton Commander for DOS. Under Preferences, you have one option: to change the app's color scheme. You can change it to something more Mac-like or several other color schemes.


This program began to remind me more and more of Norton Commander. For instance, to open a folder, I had to highlight it with either a click or with the arrow keys, then press the ENTER key. No double-clicking here.

I could not drag and drop files from one pane to another. All file copying and moving must be done through the Function Keys or menu (and why not put what each Function Key does on the screen?!)

Quick View does not work. You press the Space Bar and this selects a file as part of a group. Again, Norton Commander for DOS and not Mac-like.

Fast Command uses the Control key, not the Command key, as the modifier key for most commands. While this helps new users familiar with using the Control key in Windows and DOS, it causes cognitive dissonance when a user tries to remember which modifier key to use.

And No Tabs. And No Sidebar to select other drives or add folders for easy access.

Summary: If you used and liked Norton Commander for DOS, you might want to check this program out. Check it out throughly for the 14 day trial period, though, before putting it on the plastic.

Total Commander 1.4.18 by Binaryage

This program enhances the standard Finder with tabs and a passable dual-pane mode which you can switch on and off with a hotkey (Command + U). It costs $18.00

It adds tabs across the top of the toolbar. To add a tab, use Command + T, same as you would with Safari and Chrome. To cycle through the tabs, TotalFinder uses the Control + Tab keys. This proved easy to use with my thumb on the Control key and my finger on the left Tab key.


This program allows you to drag and drop files between drives with no problem. You can also copy (Command +C) and paste (Command + V) files, and now Cut (Command + X) and Paste files Just use the standard Cut, Copy, and Paste commands


Summary: This program working as a plug-in to the Finder adds Tabs, a Dual-Pane Mode, and the ability to Copy, Cut, and Paste Files using the standard key combinations.

If you can't wait until Mavericks arrives and need those additional features now, look into TotalFinder by Binaryage. It works as a Mac application.

My verdict is thumbs up for TotalFinder and thumbs down for Fast Commander.

Disclosures: I downloaded Fast Commander 1.0 as a 14-day trial from I got TotalFinder as part of a discounted bundle. I have received no consideration regarding reviewing these products.

Thomas Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog







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