TotalFinder: Everything the Native Finder Lacks is Here!

I have been using Macs for a few years, and the search for the little things that will improve my workflow is never-ending. Fortunately, today I will be reviewing a tool that has improved my Mac OS X experience in a HUGE way.

The tool is called TotalFinder. It is a band-aid fix on the native Finder that embeds some features that Mac user have always been requesting.

TotalFinder IconHave you ever felt the frustration of having to open many different Finder windows in order to move files in your attempt to keep a clean and organized system? Have you ever wondered why Mac OS X is so fool-proof even though you are an advanced user and want to fiddle around with system files (because you know what to do!)? Is Copy-Pasting and going back to delete the residue of duplicates a hassle when you move around huge chunks of files? Those and more, are the issues that the tool we will be talking about addresses.

The guys over at BinaryAge, -a community created by Antonin Hildebrand- created TotalFinder, a tool that I find does exactly what the users have been requesting all along:

  • Tabbed Browsing
  • Dual-Mode
  • Cut-and-Paste
  • Folders On Top
  • Ability to View System-Files without having to go through the Terminal.
  • More!

Let’s Begin!

The installation of the Application is quite intuitive. Download → Place within Applications → Run → Happy!

One point to address here though, it does not automatically launch on startup, which may confuse people. If you restart your System, chances are that TotalFinder won’t be there once you are back up again. The “trick” I use to have TotalFinder always ON is this:

TotalFinder How to Launch on Start-upGo to the Top Left of your screen, and click on the Apple Logo, to Launch System Preferences.

TotalFinder How to Launch on Start-up #2Once you Open System Preferences, navigate to the System portion of the options, and open Users & Groups.

TotalFinder How to Launch on Start-up #3Click on your Account Name, and on the Center of the Screen, choose the Login Items pane.

TotalFinder How to Launch on Start-up #4To Add TotalFinder on that List, click on the “+” button on the bottom-left, and search for TotalFinder. Voila!

Now that the installation is done, and we are sure that TotalFinder will always be there for us to enjoy, let’s see what lies under the hood:

Tabbed Browsing

Remember back when Internet Explorer had no tabs? Uhm… Remember Internet Explorer at all?

Well anyways… the point is, before Tabbed Browsing was introduced, we all remember how dreadful of an experience it was to browse through 10 pages at a time, without our content being organized or easy to access. It has been quite a few years since the Tab feature was introduced to our favorite browsers. But… although the finder is the core system explorer for Macs, Apple didn’t include that feature -amongst others- in any of its updates.

TotalFinder Tabbed BrowsingTabbed browsing is enabled by default, and it looks exactly like it would on your everyday Internet Browser.

There is hardly a point arguing how this makes the finder more efficient. Just think -again- of back when you had to open a myriad of windows to browse through different sections of a website. Now think of having to open the same amount, simply to find a few different things at the same time. Saves a good load of time and alleviates all the stress of having to finish one task before beginning another.


Talk about efficiency, one would think that tabbed browsing is the top-of-the-line improvement here. TotalFinder would beg to differ. Dual-Mode is essentially two Finder Windows sown together, making the task of moving files from one folder to another a hassle-free experience. You most definitely know how it feels to drag a file, hover over the folder you want to take it to, wait for 3 seconds for Finder to recognize your action and respond, and then (if you don’t have to navigate through more folders) place it in the right location. No more!

TotalFinder Dual-ModeToggle Dual-Mode with Command(⌘)+U.


No introduction needed here. Cut-and-Paste has been a long-awaited feature to the finder, but Apple has been reluctant in introducing it for system-safety reasons. We don’t want people to go around moving system files now do we?! If you are a user that knows what you are doing, I’m sure Cut-and-Paste will be a relief. For me, it has been a game-changer, because I can now be sure that when I move files, going back to look for them and delete them will not be an issue. This is extremely frustrating when you are moving big chunks of files from many different folders. Shouldn’t be a problem now!

The Visor

The Visor is a universal finder window, accessible from within any application (without needing the to be highlighted) and all the cool features of TotalFinder are incorporated in it (like Dual-Mode, Tabbed Browsing etc.).

How to Enable/Use?

TotalFinder Visor PreferencesTick The Visor Feature, and Set a Key-stroke to easily bring up The Visor

TotalFinder The Visor

The Visor eliminates the need to click on the Finder Dock icon, allowing you to always have access to it from your fingertips. It’s pretty handy!


The Asepsis feature is probably the feature that you’ll want to tick on, even though you may not realize its effect. What it does is, it stops Mac OS X from writing .DS_Store files in every folder that you open. A little bit of background insight: .DS_Store files are created within every folder that you access. What they do is they store all information of that folder within them, like icon placements, background and other metadata (or otherwise “comments” about the folder). Those files may be of minute size, but imagine every folder you have within your computer (and those compute to the hundreds of thousands) has one, and they add up. Asepsis moves all those files to one single folder, so they don’t pollute your folders with unnecessary things you don’t want to look at.

TotalFinder Asepsis Feature


Apart from the obvious and oh-so-needed features TotalFinder offers, there are a few others under a category called Tweaks, that offer some features that will benefit everyone, and some other features that cater more to the intermediate and advanced user. Here goes:

Folders on Top

If you have ever been a Windows user, you will find that this is a must-have feature. The basic logic behind the feature is that having a folder with many different files and sub-folders in it, can be rough to look through. Sort by name, or sort by type? Both!

TotalFinder Folders-on-Top Before & After

How to Enable?

TotalFinder TweaksTick the Folders on Top Option

Show System Files

Over the years, I have found that such a feature would mostly benefit two types of Mac Users. The advanced user, who knows exactly what to look for, or the iPod user who wants to manually manage his device’s library without going through iTunes.

This feature will simply show all the system files (in a faded font – to indicate they are system files), to allow you to browse through more exclusive types of files that would otherwise be hidden for the safety of your system.

How to Enable?

TotalFinder How to Enable Show System FilesTick the Show System Files Option

Note: This is not something new, or revolutionary, but in order to enable such a feature in the past you would have to go through the Terminal, making it even harder, and more dangerous for elementary users.

Experimental Tweaks

Freelance Windows

By default TotalFinder will create a new Tab if you request for a new Finder Window. Ticking that feature in the Tweaks menu will reinstate the Finder’s ability to automatically open new windows, instead of just tabs.

Use Narrow Tabs

An aesthetic tweak to make the height of the Tabs shorter. Clearly a matter of preference here.

Show Cut&Paste Buttons in Context Menus

If you are not much of a hotkey user, this option will allow you to Cut/Copy/Paste using the Mouse’s Right Click, and it will create a button for each different action, so you can take advantage of Cutting and Pasting even if you don’t want to use the preset keystrokes.

Allow Path Copying from Context Menus

As the above action, it allows you to copy the Path of a file/folder through the Context menu which appears on Right Click. (Offers different types of paths, like URL and Windows types)

Issues I Came Across

Using a dual-monitor setup at home, I came across an issue of minor importance, yet it might irritate some. If you have Finder windows open on both screens, once you disconnect your secondary screen, the TotalFinder window that should normally be automatically gathered on the primary screen, is not. Ultimately, if you close all your windows on the primary screen, you will be left with an “invisible” Finder Window which should appear once you reconnect your secondary display.

I notified the TotalFinder team, since they seem very engaged with their community, and I’m confident we will have an answer very soon.

Is it Worth The Price?

For $18, I would say there are only a few applications that I would purchase. Considering that the aforementioned features have completely improved my workflow, I would say it’s worth the price, but that is up to you to judge. You can download a trial version, and play around with TotalFinder from here.

Have you tried TotalFinder, or any other application that has made you wow over its features? Do you think there is an alternative to it, or an application that does more? Please let us know!

8 thoughts on “TotalFinder: Everything the Native Finder Lacks is Here!”

  1. OS X Lion does support Cut & Paste. First Copy an item (⌘+C), then instead of Pasting it, Move it (⌘⌥+V). Cut & Paste. Without a third-party plug-in.

    And how hard is it to write a spotlight-accesible script that hides/unhides system files?

    isVisible=”$(defaults read AppleShowAllFiles)”
    if [ "$isVisible" = FALSE ]
    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles FALSE
    killall Finder

    Not very.

    I used TotalFinder for the last year, but it crashed almost every day in Snow Leopard. When I installed Lion I just didn’t want to muck up my sleek new OS. I will admit, I miss the tabbed browsing. But tabs don’t justify $18 and instability.

    1. Dear Jared,

      You make pretty good points, I can’t take that away from you, but I have two concerns.
      1) TotalFinder is not an OS X Lion exclusive App, so only because OS X Lion supports Cut + Move (Because it’s not the Cut&Paste we’ve all been used to) doesn’t mean that this tip won’t be useful for the rest of the Non-Lion users, or those who don’t want to go about getting used to a new key-stroke (you have to account for every case when it comes to efficiency).
      2) Writing an AppleScript is not everyone’s second nature; again, it’s as google-able as the Terminal 2 line command, but some people just don’t want to go that way because when time comes to re-install, troubleshoot or reverse something, they probably won’t know where to start.

      As far as crashing, I must say I’m one of the lucky ones to not have experienced any…

      Best to you.

  2. I agree with Jared. I too use to love TotalFinder and use it everyday on Snow Leopard. But since Lion, I’m experiencing various problems and I had to un-install and leave without it. I miss the visor but hell, on Lion, if you move from desktop to desktop it keeps appearing on top of everything. Very annoying. And on one of my computer, I can’t access the Info panel for file (Cmd-i).

    I posted a bug on the support page and never got return.


    1. Thanks for your input OkCompute,

      apart from the Visor appearing over all windows (Which I suppose is the whole point of the feature, to popup whenever, on top of everything on demand), what other issues did you experience?

      TotalFinder is a one-man show as far as I know, and I was one of the lucky ones to post a bug report and get a quick response. At least I know my concern is on a TO-DO list :), hehe….


  3. I recently discovered this Finder dressing, and it is great. I really do enjoy and frequently use just about every feature it has to offer. It took a bit to get used to a new hot key to access the Finder (Visor), but the default isn’t too far off of cmd-tab, so it was pretty natural.

    @Cabbage – Although Path Finder is a great application, it always bothered me that it is actually a separate application. TotalFinder is nice because it simply enhances a feature of the native OS. Besides, I don’t need an FTP client in my finder. I would much rather use something more FTP specific.

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