Productive Macs Includes Default Folder X
I’ve had Default Folder X for years. As I recall, I first found it browsing MacUpdate … (Before there was the App Store, there was MacUpdate and VersionTracker, which has since been absorbed by CNET. I prefer MacUpdate to the App Store. I find it easier to search, plus they include non-App-Store apps and users recommend alternatives to the app profiled.)
Anyway, I was browsing MacUpdate, came across Default Folder X, read the description and some positive reviews, and thought, hey, that sounds interesting. Then I looked at the price — about $35 — read the description again and the positive reviews again, and thought, that sounds interesting but not for that price. I didn’t even bother downloading it.
Later, I won a free copy. It took about a week for me to go from meh to this is really useful. It took another week to go from that to recommending it. It took another month before I thought it was worth the price. Much later, when it came time to upgrade, I didn’t even think about it. When I work on Mac’s that don’t have Default Folder X, I’m not happy.
The premise is siimple: Default Folder X adds a toolbar to your Open and Save dialogs, allowing you to quickly navigate to favorite and recently used folders, and to open folder windows in the Finder. It’s that last one that I use the most. So you have a document open that you want to save in some folder that several levels down inside another folder. That folder you want to save to is open in Finder. Somewhat like in the screenshot below.
On a Mac without Default Folder X, you might have to navigate to that folder when saving your document. With Default Folder X, you hover the mouse cursor above the destination folder and click. In the screenshot below, the folder that the mouse is hovering over is greyed and outlined, with a folder icon and the folder’s name appearing over the folder. This makes it easier to differentiate among a bunch of folders layered on the Desktop. In the screenshot below, the Downloads folder is the current destination in the Save dialog. As soon as you click on the outlined folder on the right, that folder will become the destination in the Save dialog window. At the bottom of the toolbar, you can add and edit comments, and apply a label.
Think that’s cool? The bottom of the toolbar changes for the Open dialog window, allowing you to preview files, display item information, view, add or edit comments and tags, and view and change permissions, and not just on the file you want to open. The screenshot below shows the permissions for the selected item.
What if you don’t have the destination folder open? See those nifty icons on the right side of the Default Folder X toolbar? My favorite is the Favorites icon, the heart in the middle. You can add folders that you use often to Favorites, either on the fly or through the Default Folder X preferences pane (in System Preferences). Note that you can even designate hotkeys for your favorite folders, so your hands never have to leave the keyboard when opening and saving.
The icon above the heart icon on the Default Folder X toolbar looks like a computer, and it’s there you can easily access disks on your system, navigating through a series of submenus. The icon below the heart looks like a clock, and allows easy acess to recent folders and their contents. The icon at the bottom is the Finder icon, and that lets you easily access all open Finder windows. If you’re anything like me, you can easily have ten or twenty windows open, making it challenging to find the right folder. With this option, you can navigate those open Finder windows.
The icon at the top is for Default Folder X utilities. Clicking on it shows the menu below, where you can access help, preferences, and perform a number of actions on the current destination folder.
There’s more. You can set up a default folder for an application. For instance, in the screenshot below, Microsoft Word is set up to automatically display the Documents folder the first time it displays an open and save dialog. This setting is for the
Default Set Folder Set. You can set up different folder sets. Your Coding Folder Set might have Sublime Text 2’s default folder as Git, while your Websites Folder Set has Sublime Text 2’s default folder as Sites.
Default Folder X has some other settings, including:
- Display Default Folder X in the Dock and/or the menu bar, or neither
- Change the color (gray, black or black bezel — not much of a selection) and position of the toolbar
- Exclude Default Folder X from specified applications
- Display an application’s default folder each time a file dialog is displayed