Apple could kill the finder. Would you miss it?

At the WWDC keynote this week, Steve Jobs remarked that the file system is the trickiest part of adjusting to a new OS. Apple seems intent on a future where the file system is invisible to the user. Is that a good or a bad thing?

Better Mac File Management With TotalFinder

Much as I like Mac OS X, I’ve never been happy with the native Finder, and for some reason, I’ve never liked the best-known Finder replacement, Path Finder. So I was interested to see that there’s now another replacement for Finder, called TotalFinder.

Tips and Tricks: Finder

Welcome to another installment of Tips and Tricks. These articles aim to teach you some handy things you might not know about your Apple stuff. Let’s continue the series by looking at Finder.

How-To: Get the Most From Get Info

If you’ve ever Control-clicked (also known as ‘right click’) a file, you’ve seen a listing of actions presented to you that can be carried out on that file. This menu is called a contextual menu, but that’s not the point of this exercise. What is the point, is the item called ‘Get Info’. Today, I’d like to show you some of the hidden gems that can be found within this screen.

Get Info is a function of the Finder, and displays properties about a file or folder. To follow along at home, open the Finder and simply right-click any file on your computer, and then choose ‘Get Info’. We’ll start from the top, and work our way down. Read More about How-To: Get the Most From Get Info

The Smart Mac: Smart Folders in OS X

Smart Folder icon

Mac OS X offers a computing experience that, according to many, is still unparalleled by its competitors. Built on a rock solid UNIX foundation and continually adding refinements that make interaction easier, OS X has a lot of powerful functionality that many users were unaware existed. One of these is the idea of “Smart Folders” and with a little primer, you can begin using them to make your Mac experience easier (and faster).

A Brief History

The idea of these Smart Folders are not unique to OS X. In fact, the idea started originally in the mid ‘90s with the now defunct BeOS. When Dominic Giampaolo, a software developer for Be, began working for Apple in 2002, some of the best elements of the BeOS made their way into Apple’s modern operating system. We know these features as “Smart Folders” and Spotlight, both of which launched in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, two years after Giampaolo began working for Apple.

A “Smart Folder” (or “Search Folder” as Windows Vista calls them when Microsoft introduced its version in 2006) is based on the idea that this folder is basically a “virtual folder” of its actual contents. This virtual folder doesn’t physically store copies of its contents inside but rather utilizes a database to store attributes about the files (defined either by the system or the user). This offers several advantages: they have a small file size, the ability for on-the-fly fine tuning of the criteria used to define the content as well as allowing the content to dynamically update as new files meet the criteria. Whoa. What does all of that mean? We’re getting there. Read More about The Smart Mac: Smart Folders in OS X

Simplify Your Workflow With Dropzone

Dropzone Icon

The real power of OS X (s aapl) lies in all of the hidden gems beneath what you see at first glance. Technologies like Expose, Spaces, Stacks, Spotlight and others help users tap the power of their Mac, while keeping the experience sleek and elegant. Aptonic’s Dropzone, a third-party application designed to further simplify your Mac experience, fits into this group perfectly and naturally.

It’s Like an Intern for Your Dock

Dropzone is an application that resides in your Dock like any other app. The power of Dropzone comes into play when you begin dragging files onto its icon. Similar to the appearance of a Stack, Dropzone will expand giving you options of what to do with the file or files you’ve selected. Think of it like Automator for your Dock.

For example, if I have a handful of files selected, and drag them onto my Dropzone icon, I am presented with a series of choices, one of which is “Zip files and email.” As simple as it sounds, dragging the files onto this icon zips the files automatically and attaches them to a new email message inside of Mail. Gone are the days of right-clicking to compress the files, attaching that to an email and then deleting the zip file when I’m done. Read More about Simplify Your Workflow With Dropzone

Using Git With OS X: 6 Tools to Get You Up and Running

Who are you calling a Git? When I say ‘Git’, I don’t mean the British derogatory term that was immortalized by the TV show Red Dwarf. I mean of course the latest generation of revision control systems, designed by Linus Torvalds for use on the Linux kernel. You can read up on the history of Git at its Wikipedia entry — but what you really need to know is that it is quickly becoming as popular as SVN and CVS and is being used for many open source projects. Thus if you have a need to obtain source from git, or contribute to a project being stored in a git repository, then you will need to install git.

There are a few ways to get the base Git package (with the Git command-line client and two basic graphical frontends) installed under OS X, including compiling the source-code yourself, or installing it via MacPorts. However the easiest is by simply downloading and running the Git os x installer, which will do everything for you.

Once Git is installed, you can quickly create a local Git ‘clone’ of a source repository such as VLC’s, by opening a terminal window, navigating to the directory you’d like the source to exist and then typing git clone git://git.videolan.org/vlc.git. Once you have your local clone, you can make your changes and stage commits back with the command-line client. To find out all the power and functionality of Git, you can read the tutorials and detailed documentation that’s available at Git’s official webpage.

As Git is quite new, there are not many UI front-ends available yet, and even less specifically for OS X — with none of them being very mature. However, I’ve compiled a list of six tools/apps for managing Git on OS X. The two native OS X apps (GitX and GitNub) should be watched carefully over the next year or so, as they could turn into some excellent software. Read More about Using Git With OS X: 6 Tools to Get You Up and Running

12 Subversion Apps for OS X

subversion_logo-384x332

Subversion (also known as SVN) is a popular version control system. Accessing SVN repositories with OS X is easy – and there are numerous options to do so. In this article we’ll cover 12 different applications that let you access and use Subversion in OS X.

Version 1.4 of the command-line SVN client ships with OS X Leopard and is the quickest way to get started (for OS X Tiger, or if you need SVN 1.5 an easy installer can be found here). All you need to do is fire up the Terminal application and type svn with the required parameters. A great resource to learning how to use the command-line client (and all the functionality of Subversion) can be found at Version Control with Subversion — a free online book. From the command line you can do everything required. In fact, some people will swear against doing anything SVN-related without dealing directly with the command line.

However there are reasons most of us love OS X, and a large number of those reasons relate to the great user interface experience. So what tools are there that can expose SVN functionality via a user interface? Read More about 12 Subversion Apps for OS X

Don’t Be Fresh

Fresh — is this app “Fresh” or is it “Exciting”?* Well, let’s talk about it. Just this week, the folks at Ironic Software released this clever little utility for all to use. When I first read the product information and watched the instructional videos, my interest was piqued with what the product could do for me.

So what does Fresh do? From the Ironic site, here is their description:

“Fresh was born on that sinking feeling we have whenever we head into the Finder to ‘Find’ that file that we are working on, just downloaded, or like to keep handy. Fresh is designed to hide itself when you are not using it — keeping your onscreen clutter of windows more manageable.”

Translated, Fresh does multiple things:

  1. Using the Fresh Files Zone, it’s a replacement for the Finder Recent Items/Folders/Drives feature.
  2. Using the Cooler Zone, it is an enhancement for the Open (not Save) dialog box in that you can quickly drag files as email attachments or insert files into another document via drag-and-drop.
  3. Using either zone, you can organize your items with tags and filter either the Fresh Files or Cooler Zones by those tags.

Read More about Don’t Be Fresh