To Path Finder or Not to Path Finder


#1

Posting here as I see some KM folks pretty deeply invested in PF and this is the best forum for getting a well informed respectful slice of views.

Considering getting onboard with PF for a few features it seems to offer, HOWEVER, after reading the PF forum it seems there's a number of unresolved issues with some "basic" functions that has some longtime users riled and one even wondering about the longterm commitment of the authors.

Without malice or any intent to diminish in anyway (I am looking to buy, support, and use the software) I'm asking for any feedback from this KM crew on their experience with PF and their take on the support given users at PF, longterm outlook of the product, and overall take on the quality of the app, plus anything else anyone would like to share.

I'd be onboarding with MacOS 10.14.2 and PF 8.3.8.

I've posted (this morning but the post hasn't yet cleared moderation) on the PF forum asking "Can I bring current Finder setup over or do I have to recreate from scratch? If so how? Specifically, my sidebar Favorites, Smart Folders, and Tags?"

After reading a good number of PF Forum posts (mostly about PF 8.3.7 not 8.3.8) I take it that the answer is there is no Finder sync and that that will all need to be redone from scratch.

A question not yet posted is do the PF tags "connect" or sync with the Finder tags? Ex. If I create a PF tag called TOL will it see the Finder tag and show the Finder items tagged TOL in PF or will I have to retag every item and if so are there shortcuts for doing so?

Why ask this here rather than just do it and see you may wonder. Part of having this discussion is for me to see if I'm going to jump in and take the initial setup time needed to give this a fair trial or not.

There seems to be no versioning documentation that allows for seeing what has been fixed nor is there any listing of current known issues so a number of folks are rediscovering the same issues. This says (to me) there is a low regard/respect for people's time or maybe this is a lower quality team managing this software or maybe they're up to their limits working on their current tasks or any number of other possibilities. It at least leaves ME somewhat wary.

There seems to be some Default Folder integration which is good as I'm a big fan. Others using DF and PF? How's it working? I also see some KM macros here so that'll help as well.

There seems to be a current issue with the Apple Mail functioning not working. Someone pointed this out suggesting that the menu option for that be greyed until it works rather than taking the time for everyone to discover it newly and Jordon, the only moderator I've seen, said that's a good idea and will pass it on. An interchange that strengthens my concerns for this software.

I could continue with plusses and minuses and I think this is enough to launch a conversation if this community is willing. Thanks!


TUTORIAL VIDEO: Using UI Browser and Keyboard Maeastro
#2

Hi @BernSh, I'll give you MY perspective on PF, but YMMV. I've used PF since version 4 I think until version 8 came out. With version 8, they decided to start from scratch to get with Apples new way of doing things under the hood and make a more modern version of their software. This is all good in theory, but in practice, well, not so much. You were talking about synching favorites from the Finder to PF, well, in version 7, it worked, in 8 it doesn't. Granted, in 7 it was a hack and they wanted to be a good Apple citizen so now they go by the rules, but for people who have used the software for while, this was a big issue. Stability with version 8 is still an issue if you look at the forum so I removed it completly from all my computers and either use the finder, or if I want two panel browsing, which was one of the nice feature of PF, I now use Forklift. I also liked the dropstack feature, which still works in v8, but now I'm using Yoink to do the same. Granted I need two software to do what PF was doing all on it's own, but for stability and speed, I decided to leave PF. I might check on it a bit later, or at version 9, you never know, but for now, no. Like I said, this is just MY experience with the software. I agree that they could be more transparent about how they release update, what gets fixed and have support team that actually answers your questions, but hey, it's a hard business and wish them all good luck.
To make this post a bit more relevant to the forum we are using to discuss it. I don't know how @peternlewis is doing all this by himself, hats off to him!


#3

I have a license for ver 7, probably won't go for 8. I have occasionally tried to put PF at the heart of my macOS use, but for some reason always give up – the balance of benefit to friction has never felt sustainably compelling, and it puts you out on a bit of a limb in scripting terms.


#4

TLDR: I recommend PF7 but not PF8 (for now)

I have been using PF 7 with macOS 10.12.6 for a couple of years now, and I really like PF7. I use it for all of my file explorer needs, except one: Spotlight file search.
For that I much prefer the Finder UI and process.

As you and others noted, PF8 still seems to have a number of unacceptable issues, so I am holding off on upgrading to PF8 until all those issues are resolved.


#5

Unlike JM I only trot out Path Finder when I have need of its talents, but we're in total agreement about PF7 vs PF8.

I doubt Path Finder will be worth much until v8.5 or so, but I'm hoping they'll get it together before that.

Time will tell.

In the meantime I have about 85 AppleScripts for the Finder and a few Keyboard Maestro macros, so I can get it to do most of what I need most of the time.

I also own a copy of ForkLift and a couple of other file manager utilities.

-Chris


#6

Wow, exactly the input I was looking for. Ya'll are the best, really! Thank you!

Agreed, hats off to Peter for giving us the space to come together this way and, for us for using the space well. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


#7

I find PF provides some things that can't be replaced, or easily replaced, by AppleScript.
The UI is one of those. PF gives us much more control over the UI, like making the left-most column something other than item name. I like to have Date Modified left-most.

It also can auto-show a preview of the selected item in a lower pane. It has a large selection of widgets than can be put in the lower panes.

Just my pref.


#8

Just for a counter-point about Path Finder 7 vs 8…

I've been a Path Finder user for around nine and a half years. For most of that time, I have used it 'exclusively' -- setting preferences so that 'Reveal in Finder' commands in other applications will use Path Finder instead, removing the Finder icon from the dock (ever since Apple redesigned the icon and prevented you from pasting a custom icon over the top!) and even going so far as to have a Keyboard Maestro macro to kill the Finder if anything launches it in the background!

I stayed on version 7 for a long time, given all the forum activity suggesting version 8 was best avoided (and when I briefly tried it not long after the initial release, it definitely was buggy). But I decided to pay for the upgrade when they had a recent sale, and having been using version 8 for neary two months now (on two machines, one with High Sierra and the other Mojave), I've been happy overall with how it's working for me, and have not felt any need to revert to version 7.

Since I switched to version 8, there have been two or three point releases, fixing bugs, re-introducing missing features and generally improving the stability of the software. I don't believe there are any features now missing/broken in version 8 that I used previously in version 7, so it has been a pretty painless experience for me. The key thing I did was to make sure I took screenshots of all of my window layouts and preference settings in version 7 before upgrading, so I could be sure I was replicating the same configuration in version 8, and to make sure to save these as 'custom settings' for any of the panes I had modified.

I was concerned prior to upgrading that release notes for newer versions were not available on their site, but they are available from the in-application software update mechanism in version 8, meaning that hasn't been a problem since upgrading.

So I suppose my overall comment would be that I've found version 8 to be a worthwhile upgrade, so I wouldn't necessarily be put off by all of the negative discussion in the Path Finder forum. If you haven't used any version of Path Finder previously, I'd say you will probably be just as well going to version 8 as version 7.

But, as with all great 'power user' software, everybody uses it differently, so don't take my experience (or anybody else's) as necessarily representative of how things will be for you!


#9

Thanks @DavidShepherdson. Listening from not having used it, your take balances my perspective.


#10

OTOH, I would not dismiss the negative comments so quickly.

As you said, each of us use the Mac differently, have different workflows and work preferences. So I'd suggest that anyone considering upgrading to PF8 to go to the PF Problems / Questions / Bug Reports Forum and spend some time reviewing the comments.

The challenge will be that if you are not currently a PF7 user, then the comments may not be clearly understood.

They have identified a process to downgrade if you need to. So, I may take the plunge in the next few weeks to upgrade. I think I said previously that PF7 is generally working very well for me, and I haven't found any compelling reasons to upgrade.

@DavidShepherdson, if you have some compelling reasons, I would appreciate seeing them, if you don't mind sharing.


#11

Pathfinder 8 when it was introduced was terrible. In 40 years of computing, I had never had such a difficult upgrade experience.(yet some posters said they had no issues!) For me the App was unusable, wasted a lot of my time, and I was reconciled to moving to ForkLift which is an excellent app in its own way. There have been several subsequent revisions of Pathfinder, and I now find Pathfinder 8 quite stable and usable. The nature of Pathfinder is that it’s a platform for so many different styles of users and use cases it might be hard to convey a fair picture. Pathfinder 8 does have some major differences to Pathfinder 7 but I have been able to accommodate them with some workarounds.

The Pathfinder team did not help their case when PF 8 was introduced by poor/no communication. There is no obvious person fronting Pathfinder in the manner of KM. Also, some of the support persons responses were perplexing.

So users have no idea where Pathfinder is going, or even if there is serious attempt to rectify things like lack of Favourites Sync with Finder, (or if it is even feasible). You will note despite a tumultuous launch the Pathfinder Web Pages contain only a launch blog/commentary and this has never been added to.

The big picture here is that Pathfinder by its nature is a central platform for the workflows of users both consumer and business; yet the experience of recent months could lead users to wonder about its future & development pathway.

Pathfinder (8) is a great App and I am still using it. The Pathfinder team need to find a way to communicate better with their users who will be more supportive if they could understand better what is going on and the road ahead.

Want to avoid these problems with small developers; stick to what Apple provides. :slight_smile:


#12

Would you mind sharing these differences, and your workarounds?

Do you have any issues with PF8?


#13

I will address the first question in next 24 hours; as to the second:

PF8 is now quite useable. When it was launched it crashed so often it was not something I could recommend. Now however a few revisions on, it seems acceptably stable. It has a lot of functionality built in, so its usability might depend in any particular case what is important to you.

There is a free trial for PF8 for a month so there no harm in having a look. Notwithstanding all the issues as a longstanding user, the $20 upgrade cost ($40 for new users) is potentially a very good deal indeed. I don't have a stake in this issue, but after a terrible start PF8 has made good progress, so even if you don't do anything it will be worth keeping an eye on the updates

Pathfinder 7 is not a long term solution according to PF themselves. Get in that boat you presumably assume you will one day be able to jump into PF8 when it meets your requirements.

The one downside to Pathfinder has always been, they will acknowledge bugs/issues, and say they will investigate. History shows though, that years on, or many months on, nothing is done and users don't know where they stand. This uncertainty is really frustrating and self-defeating as PF must have lost a lot of users to Forklift post launch of PF8. Forklift by comparison has generally very positive feedback from users about the communication with the developer.


#14

Thanks for your reply, but I'm not sure it really addresses my question:

I get it that now you really like PF8, I'm just looking for issues to determine if they will have a material impact on my workflows.

Thanks.

It would appear that the email feature of PF8 is not working, or at least not like PF7. I use this a lot. PF7 will zip a file and attach it to an email compose window, all in one step without saving the zip file to your local drive. I really like and use this often.


#15

Well, good point. Pathfinder has never listed the differences. Most things seem to be working now, but email is not, at least for me. In the early days, many functions didn’t work or created crashes. For example, the Drop Stack didn’t work and people used Yoink or Drop Zone as an alternative. This now seems unnecessary, but I have Drop Zone on my iMac and find it convenient to use on occasion.

The big change is the sidebar. It doesn’t sync with Finder and you can only drag folders to it. (Apple or Finder)Smart Folders/Smart Searches cannot be placed on the sidebar, neither can alias or symbolic links. The only workaround is to put these things in a Folder which in turn can go on the sidebar. [The saved Searches Folder can be found in the User Library.] Pathfinder saved searches has never been particularly satisfactory in PF 7 or 8. This situation means you are extra clicks away from getting some stuff compared to PF7.

Strangely enough, the Pathfinder Bookmarks Bar is more flexible: Folders and Apps can be dragged to the bar. so can links, but they don't seem to be able to open the originating file.

The Default Folder App integrates with Pathfinder when using save to or move to and it can be a useful adjunct to Pathfinder.

In the sidebar, Folders can be dragged to the area headed Favourites. This has caused confusion because it is not the same as Favourites in the User Library, however, a user can drag this folder on to the sidebar and have Favourites Folder under Favourites. This has lead to the suggestion that Pathfinder should change the name of this section to Places. The sidebar seemingly continues to be the most contentious area of PF8. Some of the equivalent stuff presentation/layout wise in Forklift is far better.

Sorry nothing revelatory here, ...


#16

Just a quick post to echo @davidshepherdson. Like him, I’m a long-time PathFinder user. I was excited when v8 was announced and massively disappointed in the early versions, which were buggy to the point of being unusable. I migrated to ForkLift + DropSync but never warmed to ForkLift’s UI – in particular, I find it difficult to see which is the current tab.

A month or so ago I returned to give the latest version of PathFinder another try. Most of the bugs seemed to have been sorted out so I bought an upgrade license. I’ve been using it happily ever since. As other posters here have pointed out though, my usage may be different from yours so if you’re interested, best give the free trial version a go and find out for yourself.


#17

if you have some compelling reasons, I would appreciate seeing them, if you don't mind sharing

I don't think I could go as far as to say 'compelling', but I've found a number of little improvements and niceties that added up to enough to make it worth upgrading for me (that, and not wanting to see the developers 'go under', I suppose, given how much I rely on Path Finder day-to-day).

The new modules system is very flexible, but also I've found it to be more stable and reliable than the old way of choosing what you wanted to appear in each of the available 'slots' in the main window. For example, in my usual layout, I have the bottom 40% of the window taken up with a Preview pane (two-thirds) and Info pane (one-third). In Path Finder 7, to get these the way I wanted, I had to fiddle with settings for 'hidden views' and frequently re-adjust the spacing, and whenever I wanted to use Dual Browser mode, things would break (e.g. the wrong pane's item would appear in the Preview, or different items in Preview vs Info). But having defined them as modules in Path Finder 8, they have been much more reliable, always staying in the 'correct' positions and sizes, and never showing unexpected extra views or failing to track the selection appropriately.

There are also various visual things that seem improved -- contrast between text and background, font choices/sizes, divider lines and so on all seem a bit more 'right' in PF 8 vs PF 7. I hadn't really noticed these while using version 7 (or I'd become used to them), but on switching it seemed to fit in and be somewhat more consistent than previously.

I believe version 8 also has Dark Mode support for 10.14, but I'm a 'light mode only' person so I haven't seen that myself.

There are several other little things, not all of which spring to mind at the moment (e.g. I find the display of Shared in the sidebar is more useful than it was, in that you see more items and can therefore do more things without needing to go to the separate 'Connect To…' screen; and more fonts/colours/etc. seem to be customisable than in previous versions throughout the application).

Somebody else mentioned the 'Compress and Email…' command, which I don't use (since I use MailMate rather than Apple Mail), but I just tried it on a couple of sample inputs (one file and one application bundle) and it seemed to do the right thing for me (i.e. created a Zip file in a temporary folder, then opened Apple Mail with a new message open and the file attached). I'm not sure whether this means whatever previous problem there was with this feature has been fixed, or that it only works in certain circumstances…

As for the Favourites vs the Finder's list, I actually didn't realise that they were synchronised in version 7, since I had set up a custom sidebar configuration in order to get coloured icons anyway. The early comments about this seemed pretty clear: Apple provides no official API to do this, and the Path Finder developers didn't want to keep using unsupported or undocumented APIs that were unreliable and likely to disappear at any time, so they decided to remove the feature. So I wouldn't anticipate it coming back (at least not in its previous form; the most I could imagine would be something where Path Finder has an option to display the Finder favourites, but they're read-only in Path Finder). As I mentioned, this isn't an issue for me personally, mainly because I use Path Finder in 'exclusive' mode so I'm never interacting with the Finder's favourites list; the only time I'd see them would be in the sidebar of open/save panels, and I rarely use them there because I do most of my open/save interactions with Default Folder X (most commonly the 'click the Path Finder window I have open in the background to switch to it in this panel' feature).

Not sure if these comments will be of any use to anyone, but there you are! :slight_smile:


#18

While your down in the details, what might you share about this:

I'm using Finder smart folders that show tagged items giving me easily (by tagging) changeable lists of folder locations. One is for items I'm "currently" working on. One is for places I frequent that aren't frequent enough to live directly in the Finder window sidebar but I don't want to dig beyond one click to find and one for "Open Items" for immediate access and top of my sorely limited keep in mind bandwidth.

One design parameter I have these smart folder for is to keep displaying list length to within the window size so as to not have to scroll to see the whole list and most of my Finder windows are 1/4 of a 27" screen. Kinda following "out of sight out of mind" thinking as it's really true for me.

Anyway to have this in the current PF?

Also key for me is the ability to drag Apple Mail items into the Finder as I file mail in Finder folders not the folder structure built within Apple Mail. Does that work within PF8 if used without using Finder?


#19

Well said as you more clearly articulated my experience (as an onlooker) of concern than I did.


#20

Been using PF for years. Add me to the list of very frustrated PF 8 users. MacOS desperately needs a better alternative : /