Forklift 1.6 Review

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A common battle cry among experienced Mac users is the plea for more power to the built-in Finder application. As a result, there is no shortage of third-party solutions. I seem to collect them like some people collect stamps. I’m not all that unhappy with the built-in Finder. I just love the ability to stretch the geek muscles.

One particularly good file management application is BinaryNights' Forklift, which I previously reviewed. The gang at BinaryNights has been hard at work improving Forklift and with the release of version 1.6, I thought it was time to kick the tires, again.

Forklift provides a dual pane interface in which you can select any source for file manipulation. I use the term “any source” rather liberally. It is really more like an “all you can eat” file buffet on your Mac. This includes your local drive, remote drives, network storage, your Amazon S3 account, and FTP storage. The application remembers your logins and makes transferring data between diverse locations as easy as dragging a folder from one pane to the next. It provides a fast, reliable platform for FTP work. I use it for all file management at MacSparky.com.

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While the application was originally developed to handle FTP projects, it has matured into a Finder replacement. It includes several useful features such as spotlight integration, smart folders, spring-loaded folders, and Growl support to make this application perfectly competent for file management needs.

With the newest version, several helpful features have been added. The user interface, which used to be exclusively dual pane, now may be used in a single pane mode. This is helpful when you're operating on a small screen or simply don't need the complexity two panes. While this is a welcome addition, I still find Forklift most useful with two panes. Thankfully, the developer appears committed to continuing support for dual pane and indeed explains on its website that several of the future modules will still support (and even require) the dual pane mode.

Another welcome addition is the adoption of a tab metaphor for switching between locations on individual panes. This implementation works better for me. If, however, you prefer the prior method for keeping track of your locations with the side panes, Forklift has a setting to bring them back. For keyboard jockeys, the new version also supports a great deal more keyboard control. In total, Forklift version 1.6 represents a substantial update without an update fee. I like that.

Forklift is, in my opinion, the "middle way" solution for people seeking a Finder replacement. While it doesn't have as many features as some of its competitors, it sports an excellent “Mac-worthy” interface that is well designed and fun to use. The developer is enthusiastic and the application continues to improve. A license for Forklift will cost $45. There is a student license for $25. You can also download a free 15-day trial from the website, www.binarynights.com.