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Friday Favorite: FolderGlance

David Winograd

FolderGlance 2.55, for Snow Leopard only, is a very useful preference pane that adds a number of additions to the Finder. The simplest and most basic thing it does is to add an expanded contextual menu to any folder when the folder is right (or control, or two-finger) clicked. If there are folders embedded inside the folder you have right-clicked, those folders appear at the top of the display window and can also be right-clicked to inspect their contents. This works for any number of embedded folders.

The really neat part, at least for me, is to set custom folders. What this lets you do is to determine folders that you would like to get to right away and denote them as special. Then whenever you right-click, whether in an empty area of your desktop or on any folder, the custom folders appear at the top of your list of folders. This does not replace the functions of the usual contextual menu we've all come to know and love; it expands them.

Here's why I love this feature. When I'm writing for TUAW, each post requires a graphic and a link at the very least. Graphics need to be properly formatted, so after adjusting the size, I save the result in a folder called TUAW Pix. This folder is buried about 5 layers into my Documents folder. With FolderGlance, every time I right click, the TUAW Pix folder is right there ready to be opened. Saving the graphics goes from about 8 keystrokes to 2.

The preference pane does a bunch of other things as well, but none that I find as useful as the feature detailed above. For the record, here is the feature list:

  • Moving, copying and making aliases of the currently selected files in a folder you browse to
  • Control-free popups: Open the contextual menu without holding down the control-key or using a two-button mouse
  • In-menu preview of arbitrary files
  • Opening files with an application different than the default by using an "Open with..." menu you can tailor to suit your own taste
  • Changing the font size used in contextual menus
  • Browsing into package contents
  • Customizable sorting and customizable display of hidden files and folders.

The preference pane gets updated fairly frequently, and in that process, you are asked to force-quit and reload the Finder to make the new version take effect. For me, this doesn't seem to work. I need to either restart or log out and back in for the change to take effect.

FolderGlance 2.55 costs US$20 for a license. This is expensive and I'm sure that cheaper alternatives are around, but this, in my workflow, has become an extension of the Finder, and something that I feel should be built into the OS. I use it constantly.

You should note that if you are running anything under OS 10.6, there are older versions available.

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