Forklift 4 review & comparison with Forklift 3

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I’ve been a long time user of Forklift 3 all the way back to 2017. It has been a solid and reliable utility that I use on a daly basis. So when Forklift 4 got released, I of was curious to see what could be further improved.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of Forklift 4 that I used to write this article.

Forklift 4 gets a fresh new look

Forklift 4 new refreshed UI

The first thing you will notice is the refreshed Forklift 4 UI. It has been updated fit better with current macOS design language. You can also easily customise the UI’s colour theme if you like.

Changing colour themes on Forklift 4

Otherwise, the overall UI is similar to Forklift 3. The toolbar remains customisable as with the previous version. But it does look like some of the options are quite different from before

Forklift 4 toolbar customisation
Forklift 3 toolbar customisation

What’s new in Forklift 4

To me, Forklift 4 seems like an incremental update. That’s not a bad thing since it is a pretty solid app to begin with. According to their introduction blog post, the update is mainly around performance and support for modern cloud storages.

On the performance front, it is indeed fast. But I can’t tell if that’s because of the M2 Max or the optimisations of Forklift 4. Regardless, I’ll happily take any performance improvements wherever it comes from.

Better support for cloud storages

Forklift 4 claims built in support for modern cloud storage protocols like Dropbox, Google Drive Team Drives and Microsoft OneDrive.

Forklift does seem to understand if the files are available locally, or only available on the cloud. All my personal files are stored on iCloud drive and OneDrive for some of my work at a local university. In the screenshot below, you can see the cloud icons beside the files listed if they are only available on the cloud and not locally.

The preview pane can also show the metadata of cloud-only files properly. I thought that was a nice touch, making it very usable when working with cloud-storages.

Forklift 4 iCloud and OneDrive support

When I opened a cloud-only file, Forklift would know to download it first before opening it up. And it works seamlessly for both iCloud and OneDrive files.

Seamless support between OneDrive and Forklift

The only thing that I’ve found to be missing is the tighter integration of OneDrive services, like the ones you can find with OneDrive’s integration with Finder. It would have been nice if I could also free up and keep the OneDrive files only online as I can when using Finder.

Comparing Finder and Forklift integration of OneDrive

My top 3 favourite features of Forklift

After many years of using Forklift, I’ve come to rely on Forklift for a few key features.

1. Smart file operations queue

I said the same thing back in 2017 and it remains one of the main reason I would use Forklift to move files versus just relying on macOS’ Finder. When transferring a bunch of files from a disk sources, Forklift knows to queue up the file operations, preventing parallel read and write from the same disk source.

File operations queueing on Forklift 4

But when downloading from online sources, like an SFTP folder, Forklift would then download the files in parallel. Arguably, that might not be best for my small server, but for most cloud-based storages, it should have enough resources to support parallel downloads since most would limit the download bandwidth per file.

Forklift downloading from SFTP server

2. Easy to use drive sync

This is basically rsync with an easy to use UI. I’ve been keeping two copies of all my RAW photographs across two SSDs. Forklift’s sync feature makes it really simple for me to sync both drives properly without me fiddling around rsync command parameters. Forklift also shows the preview of what’s new or to be deleted in the sync. This way, I’m always sure of the results of the sync before I run it, minimising the risk of accidentally losing any files.

Forklift sync feature

3. Simply better dual-pane view

As you can see from all the screenshots above. Forklift provides a much better experience compared to macOS Finder when you need to deal with multiple file locations. On Finder, you either need to browse across multiple tabs or windows.

Forklift 4 dual pane view

And many other features

There are a lot more that Forklift offers, such as saving you current workspace (opened tabs and folders) as a favourite. This is a great time saver when you need to get quick access to a bunch of file locations, including remote servers, for specific needs. One example is when needing to do a manual transfer of files from my local machine to my web server.

Forklift 4 save workspace as favourite

Of course, Forklift’s ability to connect to common remote file storages is a major reason for its existence. The support for SFTP, FTP, FTPS, WebDAV, S3, Google Drive, Backblaze B2, OneDrive, Rackspace Cloud Files, Dropbox, SMB, AFP, NFS, and VNC is quite extensive indeed.

Forklift 4 supported remote file storages: SFTP, FTP, FTPS, WebDAV, S3, Google Drive, Backblaze B2, OneDrive, Rackspace Cloud Files, Dropbox, SMB, AFP, NFS, and VNC

Compared with Forklift 3

If you’re coming from Forklift 3, the main improvement comes from Forklift 4’s better support for cloud storages. Other than that, most of the features remains relatively similar. So, if you are already using Forklift 3 and do not find any issues with it, you might continue to do well with it, until a point when the app runs badly on future versions of macOS. So far, my test of Forklift 3 (running on another MacBook) on MacOS Sonoma seems to work just fine.

So it really just comes down to the consideration of continual support to the team at Binarynights for upgrading and paying for the Forklift 4 license,

All in all, Forklift 4 is a great alternative to plain old Finder.
But if coming from Forklift 3, expect only incremental updates.

Great alternative to Finder at a cost

If you’re looking for a good alternative to macOS finder, Forklift 4 is a great utility.

The only thing to consider if the cost justifies the convenience you will get by using Forklift. They have now adopted a US$19.95/year (or US$34.95 for 2 years) single user license model. You can still continue to use the last covered version indefinitely if you decide to stop renewing the subscription.

Alternatively, you can also get access to Forklift if you are already subscribed with Setapp. I’ve never really considered Setapp myself because I don’t use enough of the apps listed there to justify Setapp’s cost.



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