How to use ForkLift 3 to manage files running macOS

ForkLift 3 offers Mac users a compelling alternative to the macOS Finder. It's more than just a file management utility--ForkLift 3's capabilities justify an upgrade.

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Image: Mathias Rosenthal, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Most Mac users rely upon the macOS native Finder to manage files. Finder is highly reliable and presents a common, familiar interface, though it has limitations. Fortunately, ForkLift 3 from BinaryNights directly addresses those limitations.

Load the $29.95 app, and you'll learn why ForkLift earns high user ratings, including on TechRepublic sister site Download.com. In addition to boasting two file management panes, which significantly speeds the process of copying and moving files by permitting simple drag-and-drop operations without first having to open another Finder window, the program packs numerous customizable preferences, the ability to transfer files using FTP, and file previews for both local and remotely stored files. Plus, the program is just plain fast, including when transferring files to Amazon's S3 cloud storage services, and supports remote file transfer using numerous protocols.

With the option to place ForkLift 3 in the macOS menu bar, which BinaryNights refers to as ForkLift Mini, quickly accessing file management and transfer features is a snap. Using ForkLift's Quick Open function, which permits directly accessing apps, commands, and resources from within the program and opening them, further accelerates performing common actions. Synchronization features permit syncing files between multiple directories, regardless of whether those directories are located on the same host.

SEE: 10 Terminal commands to speed your work on the Mac (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

ForkLift 3's preview features (Figure A) help save time, too. By automatically displaying file metadata within its preview panel, ForkLift 3 assists confirming files in question by presenting filetype, size, creation and modification dates, permissions and owner data, along with image thumbnails (including for common office files and PDFs) and the ability to play audio and video samples for corresponding files.

Figure A

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Image: BinaryNights

The program works much like Finder. Navigational path bars appear at the top of each file management pane by default. Simply navigate to the file location where the files are present that you wish to copy or move. Within the second pane, navigate to the target location, and then copy files between the two locations or drag-and-drop the files to move them.

ForkLift 3's View menu presents three options for adjusting how files and folders are displayed within the highlighted pane: As List, as Columns or as Icons. Just select the option you want to use, and the pane adjusts automatically to using that view.

Available file management customizations are extensive. Click View and select Show View Options to display a variety of elements that can be displayed for files and folders, including dates created, modified, and added, show hidden files, the result of which can be seen in Figure B, use alternating background, and show icon preview. As with Finder, you can opt to arrange and sort files and folders by name, date, kind, size, and tags, among other options.

Figure B

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Image: BinaryNights

As with Finder, you can customize the ForkLift 3 sidebar by dragging commonly used folders and locations to the left Favorites pane. Because you can add local drives, remote hosts, iCloud, Dropbox, and other storage sites, as well as such cloud services as Amazon S3, the sidebar quickly becomes a frequently used navigation bar.

Activities, which are accessed from the ForkLift 3 toolbar, permit managing file transfers. Clicking View and then selecting Show Activities prompts the program to display the status of all active file transfers, including the transfer rate and overall file transfer progress.

Just clicking files prompts the file's corresponding metadata to appear within the preview panel that appears on the program's right-most window. You can also hide automatic previews by clicking View and selecting Hide Preview.

More adventurous users seeking to edit text and similar supported files directly within ForkLift 3 can do so by clicking within the file and entering edits. The feature works with local and remote files. Be sure to click Save to record the changes you made.

To connect to remote servers to transfer files, click Go from the menu bar and click Connect. Next, specify the protocol. The following protocols are supported:

  • SFTP
  • FTP
  • FTP TLS
  • WebDAV
  • WebDAV HTTPS
  • Amazon S3
  • Backblaze B2
  • Google Drive
  • Rackspace CloudFiles
  • SMB
  • AFP
  • NFS
  • VNC

Then, specify the server, username, and password and click Connect.

ForkLift 3's Preferences, which are accessed by clicking ForkLift from the macOS menu bar, permit customizing a variety of transfer settings, such as bandwidth limits and error handling preferences. The program's options also permit checking automatically for updates, enabling Dark Mode, activating ForkLift Mini, restoring windows and tabs on startup, and specifying the terminal application to use when selecting terminal functions from directly within ForkLift 3.

SEE: Software usage policy (Tech Pro Research)

With dual file management panes, numerous file transfer protocol support, impressive transfer speeds due to the program leveraging multiple connections to accelerate operations, and even its own application removal console for removing programs, ForkLift 3 is a capable utility full of features that more than pulls its weight.

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