Finder has changed a lot over the years and, while we’re big fans of the tabbed windows in OS X Mavericks and Yosemite, we were disappointed when old-style colored labels vanished, and also when the sidebar icons became depressingly monochrome. But where Apple no longer provides, enterprising third-party developers are often there to fill the void. One such example is XtraFinder, a free app (although you can donate to show support) that’s available from trankynam.com/xtrafinder. Once installed, the app enables you to add all kinds of features to Finder, significantly powering up OS X’s file manager.
The app’s preferences are divided into four groups. Tabs might seem superfluous — the section really exists due to XtraFinder pre-dating OS X Mavericks — but there are more options here than Apple provides, including a highly useful dual-pane view. Features provides a range of new toys to play with, Appearance deftly deals with both color issues mentioned earlier, and Add Items to Finder Menus can significantly expand the Finder contextual menu.
Quick Look at XtraFinder
A. Extra Color
XtraFinder can bring a lot of OS X’s color back, in Finder sidebars and labels.
B. Menu Extra
The XtraFinder menu extra enables you to rapidly access the application’s preferences and set up dual-window modes. The Tools menu is for restarting Finder/XtraFinder and managing XtraFinder preferences files.
XtraFinder enables you to make all sorts of changes to Finder’s capabilities and menus. When changes are made, you may need to restart XtraFinder.
XtraFinder preferences enable you to assign a keyboard shortcut. Click inside the relevant field and press the keys you want; beware of clashes with existing shortcuts, though.
How to Set up and Use XtraFinder
1. Get Started
Install and launch XtraFinder; select Preferences from the menu bar and click Appearance. Open a Finder window and apply labels to a couple of files. They’re displayed as dots at the right of the Name column. Now for old-style labelling...
2. Use Legacy Labels
Check “Legacy label color painting”, and the names of tagged files should be in color. Check “Enabled for Icon View mode” to work in Icon view. You may have to switch to a different view or restart XtraFinder from the menu extra’s Tools menu.
3. Add More Color
Labels can be adjusted with tags. The color will represent the most recently added one. Check “Show colorful icons in the sidebar” to color Finder sidebar icons. Try making these larger using Sidebar Icon Size in System Preferences > General.
4. Set up Tabs
Finder has tabs, but XtraFinder has extra features. Activate them in Tabs in the app’s preferences; adjust their appearance through Tab style (Chrome tabs are angled, while Opera tabs are straighter) and narrow the space above the tabs if you wish.
5. Use Dual-Pane View
Open a Finder window; go to View > Toggle Dual Panel (or press Command + U). The window will clone itself as two joined tabs (with two or more tabs, the focused one joins with the one to its right.) Handy for moving files. Hit Command + U again to separate the tabs.
6. Add Some Features
The Features tab adjusts the way Finder works. Tick “Arrange folders on top” and Finder List and Columns views display folders above files (rather than mixing the two). Another useful feature is “Show total size of selected items in Status Bar.”
7. Power-up Path Bar
If the Path Bar isn’t visible, go to View > Path Bar. In XtraFinder’s preferences, tick “Click any item in the Path Bar to show contents menu.” Now you can navigate from any folder in the Path Bar; ç-click a folder to open it in a new tab.
8. Contextual Menu
Finder’s right-click contextual menu can be added to by selecting items in Add Items to Finder Menus in preferences. If you’d like “Open in New Window” displayed alongside “Open in New Tab” rather than when you hold Option, check that box.
9. Clean Sweep
The Tools menu offers Restart Finder (for a clean Finder), Restart XtraFinder (to make new settings active), and Reset Preferences (to revert the app’s settings to their default states). You can also uninstall XtraFinder from here if you decide it's not for you.