Forklift 3 review and a comparison for Path Finder 7 users
If you’ve been on my blog before on this topic, you would know that I’ve generally recommended Path Finder 7 as a good alternative to the Finder app of MacOS. But since MacOS Sierra’s release, I’ve found Path Finder 7 to be rather unreliable and crashes very often. Development of Path Finder 7 has seemed to stalled in the recent years. As such, I’ve actually stopped using it for almost 6 months now. But there are key capabilities that I have missed from Path Finder 7. I’ve noted them all in this article here. Therefore, when I stumbled upon Forklift 3 as a potential candidate to replace Finder, I was fairly excited.
This post is basically a review of Forklift 3 based on my real life use over a few weeks. It is also a comparison with what I’ve personally found useful in Path Finder 7. So if you are a current Path Finder 7 user like me, this should give you an idea why Forklift may also be worth your considerations. What’s listed here are features that I find to be useful in Forklift 3. So it’s not a full list of capabilities you can find in Forklift 3. For that, you can see it here on their web manual.
NOTE: I was provided with a review copy of Forklift 3 to ensure no limitations are in place when I’m researching the app. However, I’ve strived to be unbiased in writing this post.
#1: File Operations Queue
This is one of the main reasons I use an alternative to Finder. I just really cannot fathom why none of the operating systems out there have this feature built-in. Come on. It’s 2017 already! This feature is especially useful when you copy files over to an external HDD drive to reduce disk trashing.
Compared to Path Finder 7
This feature works pretty much the same with Path Finder 7.
#2: Dual-pane view
Dual-pane view is Forklift 3’s middle name. And as its name implies, you get two plane to easily manage files in two locations.
Compared to Path Finder 7
This feature works similarly with Path Finder 7 as well. So not surprises here.
However, Path Finder 7 does include an additional capability to simply compress/decompress a file to the left/right pane in a single click. Having said that, I’ve actually never used it myself.
Forklift 3 just uses its own list of favourites. But here, you can both sync the favourites between different Macs via Dropbox, or use it as a backup. I personallly find this feature only useful for remote connections but less so for the local locations as they may really differ from a machine to another. One plus point to Forklift 3 is the ability of you to group the favourites to organise them better. It’s a very simple but visually useful feature.
Compared to Path Finder 7
Favourites works the same with Path Finder 7 as well. However, Path Finder 7 also shows the same Places list that you set in Finder. This can be useful if you also regularly use Finder.
But in addition to Favourites, Path Finder 7 also include a feature called Bookmarks that I found to be quite useful. The screenshot below explains what it does. Bookmarks provides a quick way to browse through from the point of the bookmark and saves you a few clicks. This is a feature that’s not available in Forklift 3.
Forklift 3 provides mostly customisation in terms of its toolbar and the viewing options. These customisations are definitely useful. However, you would expect this of the application anyway.
Compared to Path Finder 7
This is where Path Finder really shines. The amount of customizable modules on Path Finder 7 is quite amazing. It however can also seem quite cluttered and would really only work if you primarily work with a single-pane view. Some of the modules are really useful, such as Terminal.
#6: Editable previews of text files
In the short few weeks of using Forklift 3, I’ve come to really love this feature. When previewing a text file, you can basically just edit the file directly on the preview pane! It even works with text files on a remote server that you’ve connected to via SSH/SFTP.
Compared to Path Finder 7
Path Finder also has a text editor that allows you to edit your text files. However, it works as a seperate tool that runs on its own window versus directly off the preview pane. Therefore I didn’t use it much since it’s as good as opening and editing it on Atom editor. However, as I mentioned, it does have a built in terminal module. This is useful for me if since a lot of my text file editing are quick edits of configuration file or source codes. So with an embedded terminal screen, I could easily run a process restart without needing to switch windows to Terminal or iTerm.
#7: Connecting to remote file stores
This feature really works well on Forklift 3. It is able to connect not just to regular protocols like SFTP, FTP/S, WebDAV and Samba but also cloud storages like Amazon S3 and Rackspace CloudFiles. However, I do wonder if other cloud stores, such as Google Cloud Store and Alibaba Cloud Object Storage Service, will also be supported in the near future as they start becoming more popular.
What is also cool with this connection capability is Forklift 3’s ability to easily mount them as a disk on MacOS. This feature does require Fuse for MacOS to be installed.
Once mounted, you can access the remote file store just like any disk on MacOS. Even from regular applications like Microsoft Word.
Of course, you can also achieve the same by configuring Fuse for MacOS with the necessary drivers and configuration. Forklift 3 just makes it a whole lot easier for you.
Reason #8 and beyond: A few other features…
As with any dual pane file management utilities, you would expect sync and compare tooling to be available. This is especially useful when you regularly sync files between different servers or with you local machine. However, I’ve never really found a need for these features. I would typically manage source code deployments via git. For this blog, it’s a WordPress-powered CMS, so there’s no need to sync files to my remote web server. For file shares, there’s Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. So again, no need to manually sync files on a remote FTP, S3 bucket or anything like that.
However, if you find features like this useful and critical to your own workflow, then know that they work very well on Forklift 3.
However, for the comparison tool, you will need one of the following installed on your machine.
There is also an application deleter built into Forklift 3. I am still currently using AppCleaner to uninstall applications on my MacOS. But it does look like it functions just the same and I should be able to just use Forklift 3 for this.
A couple of issues I’ve faced
Unfortunately, I’ve encountered some nagging issues with Forklift 3. Here are some of the key ones which I think should be improved upon.
Issue #1: Forklift as Default File Viewer
Firstly, setting this requires you to run some commands in Terminal (instructions here). It’s not difficult to do but I would have thought this should just be an option in the preferences. I’m guessing the developers does not intend this to be a supported feature. Ths feature is a hit and miss. So far for me, it’s been working generally ok and I’m not at a point of reverting back to default. However, with this enabled, the Reveal in Finder option in Forklift 3 would just open the folder’s location as a new tab in Forklift.
Issue #2: Browsing while dragging a file
This is a something that you can do with MacOS Finder and also Path Finder 7. See the video below if you aren’t sure what I’m referring to.
With Forklift 3, you can only drop the file into the location or folder that you are hovering over. It does not open up the location when you hover over the location or folder.
Issue #3: Limited iCloud Drive integration
I wouldn’t fully put the blame here in Forklift 3 as I suspect there isn’t much they can do here unless Apple releases the necessary APIs to allow it to work like Finder.
And when you show all the hidden files in Forklift 3, you can see the iCloud synchornization files in place of the actual file. In Finder, double-clicking on the file would initiate the file download and you’ll then be able to access the file. You can’t do the same with Forklift 3. Double-clicking on the hidden file in Forklift 3 does nothing. I’ve even tried to “touch” the file to see if it cause MacOS to download the file but to no avail. The only way is to just rely on Finder to get the file downloaded.
And this is where a working “Reveal in Finder” feature when using Forklift 3 as a default file viewer would be much appreciated.
At this point. I’ve only used Forklift 3 for about 3+ weeks. But I do have to state that my experience with Forklift 3 has been mostly positive. It’s a lot more stable as compared to Path Finder 7 on MacOS High Sierra (I’m even running on the latest public beta of High Sierra). Forklift 3 also seems to be a lot lighter and faster due it it having lesser features compared to Path Finder 7.
So in conclusion, Forklift 3 is a Finder replacement that I would recommend you to consider if you find the default MacOS one lacking. You can purchase Forklift 3.0 here.
Very nice write up, Ken. I’ve been using Forklift since TotalFinder stopped working with SIP. Forklift 3 is fairly solid and clean. Sometimes it throws an error when moving or deleting apps. It also seems a little slower than the default Finder. But, for the most part, I am really happy with it.
Glad you find my write up useful. ? Thanks!
Thanks for this Ken, a great write up. I still can’t get ForkLift to work as my default Finder even after using the Terminal command (2011 iMac, 10.13.1) I’ve used Path Finder for years, but since High Sierra it’s been using a lot of energy and memory, even on a new MacBook Pro with a fresh install of Path Finder. The battery drain is considerable. I prefer Path Finder for its shelf function, very handy, but have found at times Path Finder won’t connect to certain FTP addresses that ForkLift will.
As an Alfred user, not opening files and folders in ForkLift is a major limitation for me. Wish I could find a way to make this happen as until Path Finder 8 comes out – or at least a fix for the energy use – I’ll most likely need to use ForkLift.
is there any update for Mrach 2023? Are you still using Forklift or did you revert back to PF? What PF features do you miss most?