The best file management utility for Mac OSX

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Having grown up with a computer in the house, I become very proficient with command based systems, from using the old Point and Shoot menu system to writing DOS batch files and other various things, in not only qbasic, but yes, even gw-basic, I was kind of nerdy.

Why tell you this? Well, these DOS based systems were fantastic and very powerful in their ability to batch process things, find and locate things – all with the use of the keyboard. One such product I highly miss on the GUI platforms we all use today is that of XTreeGold, and products like it.

There is a program written by an Australian called ZTree, which is almost identical in it’s use, look and feel, but with modern day architectures for handling larger files, and massive directory structures, utf8 files etc. All this is great if you are using a Windows platform of some sort. You could and can run it in an emulated environment, but it’s not entirely optimal at times.

However, if you are using Apple platforms, there aren’t too many options available like this that I’ve found with the same power and ability as Ztree. There is one which is similar, but no-where near. That program is muCommander.

Update: May 30th 2015
The muCommander project is basically dead now. However, the project has been picked up again and forked: http://trolsoft.ru/en/soft/trolcommander/
It looks worth checking out!

Just this week I made a purchase of a Lacie 5Big 2 on special at $369 to start using it as a permanent backup device. With a few teething issues to sort through from it, I found that my biggest problems have been keeping the connection to the device alive. It seems that because it’s a network device, it just likes to drop out every 10 hours or something – something I’m going to investigate and look at to fix.

So, now on to our main point of the article.

With so much data to back up, of videos, photos and audio, the Lacie drive is something I basically needed to prevent data failure. When you have lots of data to copy and transfer, you will find it’s going to take a long time.

One of the biggest problems with the OSX Finder program is that it can’t handle file errors very well when copying files. If it finds an error, it basically stops. No options to continue or anything. This is useless if you are copying terrabytes of data, and you don’t know where the files stop, what was copied, and what had the error, or why… It’s painful and is not the tool for the job.

The main reason I like muCommander, is that it gives you options of what to do when things stop working. The most common error I got when copying the data, was “Error, can’t copy file X” or something to that affect. What the? As it turns out, the connection to the Lacie drive had been dropped. By what? Not sure. I’m suspecting the computer was at fault. But, either way, once I re-established the connection, I was able to hit retry in muCommander and the process continued.

You can’t do that in Finder!

Another problem associated with these kinds of large copying is associated to when things go wrong. In Finder, when you copy a file, the folder becomes greyed out and unavailable for browsing until the copying has finished. So, what happens when it breaks and the files are still there, but you can’t view the contents? You have to get nerdy… I had it happen to a few directories.

You can easily solve this problem when it gets broken. I found the solution here. For the executive summary and easy fix, just do this:

Open Terminal:

type in something to this affect and you should be right:

$ SetFile -d 06/13/2011 /PATH/

As it turns out, when Finder is copying files, to let the GUI know that it’s being used, it changes the date to 06/13/1946. So, basically, you just change the date, and the folder will come back to normal.

As a little side note. I found this brilliant little program called FinderPath. Load it, and the path at the top of the Finder bar becomes editable – just like Windows Explorer. A tool for the power user! Highly recommended.

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2 thoughts on “The best file management utility for Mac OSX

    Jordan Branyon said:
    October 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Just wanted to say… THANK YOU!!! you’re solution worked like a charm.

    Fix a grayed-out Finder folder | Small Things Float said:
    February 23, 2014 at 3:03 am

    […] I found a solution which uses SetFile – part of the Xcode installation. At some point, it seems a file transfer […]

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