Finder Blues
August 31, 2010 4:02 AM   Subscribe

Using Finder is murdering my mind. What's the most efficient way to move/delete/rename files, view sort by metadata? On a Mac. Getting good with unix commands? Some sort of Vim file management system cobbled together with plugins?
posted by parallax7d to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Midnight Commander? It sounds like a lot of work to get Mac running it, but it's still a lovely and efficient file manager after all these years.
posted by gum at 4:33 AM on August 31, 2010

How is Finder failing you, can you be more specific?
posted by markmillard at 4:35 AM on August 31, 2010

mmm well apple's default "omg i need to do repetitive tasks" tool is Automator. i'm not a huge fan of it but it sounds like this should be your first port of call. check out: Automator - Your Personal Automation Assistant.

Automator's main advantage is that it can interact with a wide range of Mac applications (similar to Windows COM). however, when i want to do file management tasks i always turn to python. for example, just yesterday i was stuck with an odd problem. i had organised my photo collection in the following manner:

/Pictures/random - london - mar 2008/
/Pictures/turkey - jul 2009/
/Pictures/norway - jul 2009/
/Pictures/another vacation - 2008/

and i have no idea why because it's completely nonsensical (some of the folders didn't even have months in the name). what i really wanted was:

/Pictures/2008 - 03 - london - random/
/Pictures/2009 - 07 - turkey/
/Pictures/2009 - 07 - norway/

but i had 60 folders with ~8,000 photos. how to do it? it took me 10 minutes in python. a combination of:
  • glob: get a list of directories
  • shutil: moving directories and files while preserving their metadata and modification timestamps
  • os: get the modification time of the newest file in a particular directory, shove it into datetime and make the folder name based on this timestamp
i'm 100% certain you can do this using basic unix commands, and not so sure automator can even do this, but i guarantee you it would take you longer than 10 minutes.
posted by asymptotic at 4:45 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

arguably the example i gave could be done pretty quickly by typing, so i should add that i had lots of folders in lots of locations that all needed to be moved to one central location, and some didn't have the date labelled, etc.

but mostly because i felt the itch, saw the hammer, and thought "mmm yes..."
posted by asymptotic at 4:52 AM on August 31, 2010

I previously asked in particular about useful keyboard shortcuts in Finder. There were quite a few helpful answers.

If you need to do more sophisticated operations, learning to use the terminal can be helpful. For example, using rename combined with some regular expressions can do some very powerful things.

Of course, it takes a time investment to initially learn--you can probably do what you require by hand or find a tool faster than you can learn the command line at first.
posted by Herschel at 5:02 AM on August 31, 2010

The command line is generally the most efficient way to massage filenames and move them around. Can you be more specific about your problems, so that we can recommend more specific solutions?
posted by chrisamiller at 6:10 AM on August 31, 2010

Move: Try TotalFinder (currently in beta and free; meant go for-pay, soon). It gives Finder a tabbed interface as well as a two-paned interface and makes dragging files from one place to another a lot quicker. Of course, you can do the same thing with two Finder windows.

Delete: Using Finder's 'Customize Toolbar' you can add a Delete button to its toolbar. Then just select and click.

Rename: Umm, yeah. Kind of a weak point with Finder. There are all kinds of third party file renamers, as a result. Here's a quick walk-through of using Automator to make a custom renamer.

For some kinds of jobs, the Unix command-line is the most straightforward, if your mind works that way.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 6:21 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Name Mangler is what I use for renaming.
posted by gen at 6:34 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

A couple other things to look into: Pathfinder, which is a Finder replacement for power users, A Better Finder Rename, which is pretty much what it sounds like.

I've learned just enough Unix to save myself some trouble with simple file renaming or moving jobs. Open and type "man mv"
posted by adamrice at 7:44 AM on August 31, 2010

muCommander works natively on OS X and I use Directory Opus via Crossover, and it works well for my file heavy lifting.
posted by Brent Parker at 11:56 AM on August 31, 2010

learn the unix command line. Seriously. It's amazing once you understand it.
posted by empath at 1:58 PM on September 1, 2010

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