Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

Default Folder X: A Review

by Brian G. Mason

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

Sometimes you find an application or a utility that eventually becomes such an integral part of how you work with your computer that you just wouldn’t have the same experience with your computer if you didn’t have it. This is the case with me and Default Folder X. Frankly, getting around my Mac when trying to open or save files would be about twice as hard if I didn’t have Default Folder X.

Default Folder X is technically a Preference Pane. After installing Default Folder X, you will see it at the bottom of your System Preferences. (See figure System Preferences). What Default Folder X provides is the ability to find the files you want to open or find the places where you want to save your files very quickly and easily.

Default Folder X System Preferences

Default Folder X is displayed in the Other section of System Preferences.

You have a lot of flexibility with respect to how Default Folder X behaves. But very simply, it attaches itself to the right side of your open or save dialog window and gives you several options for locating a folder or a file available to your computer. You can get where you want to go based on the drives available to your Mac, the favorite folders you have defined, the latest places you’ve visited on your Mac, or the folders you currently have sitting on your desktop.

When you go to open or save a document a bar of five icons will appear to the right of the dialog box. This bar follows the dialog box around no matter where you move it. The first icon is the Default X Folder icon. You can accomplish several things by clicking on this icon. Besides “About Default Folder X”, you can get to the Default Folder X preferences. But you can also define the currently selected folder as the default folder, open the currently selected folder in the Finder, or create a new folder within the selected folder. You can also rename the currently selected file, open the “Get Info” window for the file, or move the file to the Trash. I don’t usually think of going here to accomplish these tasks, but these capabilities are here if you happen to be passing by.

The next icon is the one you select if you want to get immediately to the root level of the drives you have mounted on your desktop.

The third icon is where you go if you want to navigate to your the folders you’ve set up as favorites. You also have the ability of immediately making the currently selected folder one of your favorites (see figure Default X Favorites).

Default Folder X favorites

Default Folder X favorites.

The fourth icon lists the folders you visited last. You can have Default Folder X list up to 100 folders.

The final icon lists all of the folders you have open on your desktop. But in the latest versions of Default Folder X, you don’t even need to use this icon. As long as you have the box checked in the Default Folder X preferences to display a folder in the file dialog by clicking on the folder’s window in the Finder, you can navigate to the folder this way. If you have a lot of windows open on the desktop and you have the box checked in the preferences to show the gray outlines of folder windows when the mouse passes over the window, just by moving your mouse over the desktop, you can find the folder you are looking for even if it is hidden underneath another folder or another application, click, and the name of the folder appears in the file dialog.

Another great feature is the ability to tell Default Folder X to go directly to the last file selected, or “rebound”. This means that when you open an application and go to open a file, you are taken to the last file you were working on in that application. How sweet! For example, with communications programs, you usually want to open a settings file to start work. You never have to find it. It is always automatically selected by Default Folder X as the file to open.

With all of these options, it is very rare that you have to dig through a whole bunch of folders to get where you need to go. Most of the time you can navigate directly to the folder you need by picking one of the options offered by Default Folder X. If you install Default Folder X in your Dock, all of these navigational aids are available to you from there as well.

I have had very few problems with Default Folder X. But they are so rare and so easily resolved, that I can’t fairly report on any of them. I would definitely give this application 8 slices out of 8 of the Washington Apple Pi.

[Editor’s note: make sure you upgrade to Default Folder X 1.9 if you plan on using Mac OS X 10.3. If you try to use an older version of Default Folder, all applications will immediately quit when launched. St. Clair Software has detailed information on the problem, and solution, on their Web site.]

Default Folder X
Latest Version: 1.9
St. Clair Software
Requirements: Mac OS X version 10.1.2 or higher
$34.95 shareware