By Marcel Dufresne
July 15, 2020
Because it’s always there, most of us do not realize that the Finder is just another application running on our Macs. If you quit the Finder, your computer will still run. You could start any application in your Dock or keep using one that had been started before you shut down the Finder. However, you could not easily open any others. CRAX Commander is a Finder substitute that offers many features not found in the Finder application. It does not modify the Finder files stored on your drive. Unlike other similar applications, it does not close the Finder app. CRAX Commander is installed as a standalone application and it runs on its own with the Finder still active. When launched it produces a window similar to the Apple’s Finder window but much more productive by adding customizable tabs, a dual-pane mode, and many other extras.
My favourite feature of CRAX is the dual-pane mode. The dual-pane mode is a special mode where CRAX displays two Finder directories side-by-side in the same window. This is handy in situations when you want to easily move files from one pane to the other or you want to compare what is in two supposedly identical folders. In the past, you would have to open up two windows and try to make them identical in size and location. To move a file from one side to another you can drag and drop it exactly where you want or you can hit the move button. Sure, you can do this with two open windows, but this is so much simpler and you know exactly where you put the file. In this mode, each panel window still behaves the same as if they were individual windows. For example, both windows share the same toolbar. You can get CRAX to open a sidebar panel for either side of the display. Dual-mode is the default but you can change the view to single pane if you want.
With Crax Commander running, the Finder window looks like its original self but it now features customizable tabs. In Safari, the tabs are sheets for displaying multiple web pages within one browser window. With the one window open you can quickly switch from one browser window to another without having to close, minimize, or hide the other windows. They are all there at your fingertips. They are an essential part of iOS browsers as only one window is open at any one time. Tabs are such a good idea that they have been included in the Finder window from Mavericks and higher. In these systems, the tabs are not initially visible. You have to create a new tab from the menu bar or a keyboard shortcut. With CRAX, you just need to hit the ‘+’ button in the window’s menu bar. I often forget to use tabs with the normal Finder window because it is not visible. With tabs, you can do more than just display and quickly switch between them. You can reorder them. You can close individual tabs. You can drag the tab and insert it between other tabs in an existing window. CRAX even lets you choose from a variety of tab themes.
By default, the Finder does not separate folders and files but displays them mixed. However, if you prefer to see folders first, and then the files, regardless of the actual sorting options, then CRAX enables this display. You can also have hidden files displayed in your window. You can bold the folders to make them more visible, as well as add lines to the columns and rows to make them more distinct.
Comparing the Finder window to the CRAX Commander, you find that all the same functions are available. You can add alternating gray lines and customize the toolbar to display file type, size, date added, etc. Files can be added to a favourites (hotlist) menu. The file size is listed as well as the file pathway. A ‘quick look’ button gives you a simple view of the file’s contents. And both will show the free space left on your drive.
In addition to all these features, CRAX has a lot more. It is possible to display CPU usage. The ‘equalize button’ will quickly display the same folders on each side of the panes. The ‘swap button’ will switch the contents of the two window panes. You can compress and decompress files. A ‘progress button’ shows how far along the background actions such as copy or move are. The ‘view file contents’ and ‘edit’ will open a separate window showing the inner makings of the file. At the bottom are buttons for copy, move, make a new folder, and delete. There is multi-renaming of files as well as folder merging. It will calculate file checksums. And there is still more for you to discover.
The app’s preferences give you access to numerous tweaks to customize the look and feel of the app to your liking. For instance, you can change fonts and size, background color, hide, resize and swap toolbar elements, etc. There are many hotkeys linked to the functions available and these are all reconfigurable. It is night shift capable if you prefer viewing in this mode.
Crax will often ask permission to access your files when you use it. This is the way it by-passes the restrictions put in place by Apple. Similar apps require you to completely turn off these restrictions for the app to work. I don’t want to go this way. I prefer granting access when asked and keeping the restrictions in place.
There is no user manual as such. However, the developer has made available a series of videos highlighting many of the features of this versatile application. I suggest you play with it for a while and then watch the videos. They will make more sense to you if you are somewhat familiar with its operation.
There is a trial version of this application which you can get from the Soft4U2 Web site. The trial mode has a lot of the functions turned off but you can still get a reasonable idea of what it can do. Visit the web site to read more about the numerous functions that CRAX Commander puts at your fingertips. You can purchase a licence from the web site or the Apple store for about $20.
I found CRAX Commander extremely helpful when comparing the file contents of any drive or computer on my network as well as any connected external drives. This application will save you time and effort. With CRAX Commander, file management is much faster and easier than it has been before. The program’s look is so similar to Finder that you will have no problem immediately using it as a replacement. Do yourself a favor and download the trial version. See why I consider this to be an essential application for my daily file management needs.