On a recent edition of MacBites we discussed alternatives to Finder. Elaine’s pick was Path Finder, whilst mine was Forklift. Although I still do use Finder for basic file management operations, the main reason that I use Forklift is that it provides a dual-pane view.

This comes in very handy when copying/moving a large amount of files between folders or drives, or if you simply want to compare the contents of 2 folders side by side. Yes, I know that you can open multiple Finder windows using the CMD key, but you end up with multiple windows scattered around the screen, whilst with Forklift, everything is inside the application’s interface.

forklift

Sidebar

In addition to the dual-pane view (note: you can switch to single pane view by using a command on the View menu), as you can see from the screenshot above, the Sidebar is also configurable. The Favorites section provides quick access to files, folders, servers and even FTP connections (in addition to it’s powerful file management features, Forklift will also connect to any remote FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3 or WebDav server). To add a file or folder to the Favorites, you just drag and drop it to the Favorites section of the Sidebar. To add a connection, you tick the Add to Favorites box when creating the connection.

In the Favorites section you can create Groups for better organisation. I have created two groups – “Regular Stuff” which holds shortcuts to my Home Finance spreadsheets and Backup Definitions and “Television”. I am currently converting a mass of EyeTV programmes to iPhone format (using my Elgato H264) so I have created shortcuts to the various folders used in the conversion workflow process.

Copy and Move Files

To copy or move files/folders from one folder to another, ensure that the files/folders to be copied are displayed in one pane and the destination folder is in the other pane. With the source files/folders selected, either drag and drop to the other pane or click the “Copy to” or “Move to” button on the toolbar (if you are using drag and drop between folders on the same drive, the files are moved – unless you hold the Option key down – in which case, the items are copied).

Deleting Applications

Forklift can be used to remove an application from your Mac – not just the .app file but also any other associated files (such as plist files). Navigate to the Applications folder, click on the appropriate application and click the Delete App button. Forklift will display a list of all the files that belong to the selected application. Select the file(s) to be deleted and click “Move to Trash”. I have used this feature in several situations:

  • To delete an application (I do have AppZapper) but if Forklift is running, it saves me running another application.
  • To delete an application’s plist file (where an application has stopped working and the suggested fix is to delete the plist file).
  • To find the location of a plist file (in this instance, I wanted to copy the Forklift Toolbar and Sidebar customisations from my iMac to my MacBook. The information is stored in the plist file so I had to locate the file to copy it to the MacBook).

Batch Rename

The Batch Rename tool allows you to rename a large number of files at once. You can replace a string of characters in filenames, add text to a specified position in filenames, add metadata (file creation date, owner, etc) to a specified position in filenames, generate a numbered sequence at a specified position in filenames and change upper/lower case of characters in filenames.

Folder Synchronization

Folder synchronization will compare (and then synchronize) the contents of two folders. However, synchronization in ForkLift works in one direction, meaning that you have a source folder, from where you copy items, and a target folder, where you want to copy your new files.

Set up your panes so that the source folder appears in one pane and the target folder is displayed in the other pane. Ensure that the Source pane is active (click anywhere in the pane) and then click the “Sync to” button. You can set a number of options before carrying out the sync operation. Forklift can sync any two folders, should they be located on your local machine, your local network shares, an FTP/SFTP or WebDAV storage, or Amazon S3 account.

Remote Connections

With Forklift you can connect to any remote FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3 or WebDav server. Once you have configured a connection, you can add it to the Favorites in the Sidebar so that connecting is only a double-click away. The FXP Copy command (found on the Tools menu) allows you to copy a file from a folder on a remote server directly to another folder on another rremote server (i.e. – you don’t have to download the file to your Mac first and then upload it to the other server).

Split and Combine

Suppose that you have a 2GB file that you need to burn onto CD’s. Using Forklift you can split the file into smaller fragments. The Split command allows you to define the size of the files – you can either set a custom size or select from one of the pre-sets (which includes CD and DVD). The Combine command will recombine the fragmented file back into a single file so that it can be used.

Learn More

There are other features that I’ve not been able to cover in this review – the ability to flip panes, clone panes, display invisible items (that’s something that Finder cannot do). The best way to learn about the power of Forklift is to try it for yourself. Download a trial from the Binarynights website. If you want to buy it, it costs just $19.95.