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Default Folder X Gives a Power Boost to Everyday Ops

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Oct 22, 2013 5:00 AM PT

Default Folder X Gives a Power Boost to Everyday Ops

Default Folder X by St. Clair Software is available from the developer's website for US$34.95.

Default Folder X
(click to enlarge)

How many times a day do we open and save files on our Macs? The operations are so common, we don't think twice about doing them. Fortunately, the folks at St. Clair Software have thought about those operations, and they've cooked up an app to improve them.

Default Folder X is available from the company's website for $34.95, although you can try it free for 30 days.

What DFX does is add features to Save and Open dialog boxes -- features that allow you to perform a number of productive tasks within those boxes without needing to access other programs, like Finder.

Keyboard shortcuts add to the app's power, giving you quick access to folders you've opened recently or favorite folders you use frequently. What's more, pop-up menus let you navigate to a file or folder faster than in Finder.

Neat Features

DFX installation on my MacBook Air was a very slow process, but once it was complete a DFX icon appeared on the Apple toolbar. The icon allows you to perform some basic tasks. You can access the program's preferences and key locations on your Mac.

You can also access folders on your desktop and your computer, including cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive. Any folders you designate as "favorites" can be reached from the menu, too, as well as recently accessed folders and previously opened Finder windows.

You'll find some of the neatest DFX features when you Open or Save a file in an application.

When you open a file, for instance, you'll see the typical dialog window framed with some new additions. By the right side of the window are tools for jumping to a Finder window, as well as to recent or favorite folders.

You can also jump to another disk on your computer and access DFX's utilities. The disk tool includes desktop, home location, hard drive and iCloud -- but not Dropbox, Google Drive or your network hard drive.

Metadata Made Easy

The utilities tool includes a number of rich options. You can access DFX features like Help and Preferences from the tool. You can make your current folder location the default folder for the app that opened the dialog box. You can create new folders or open your current folder in the Finder.

What's more, you can rename the folder you're in, trash it, or compress the files in it and add them to a zip archive.

DFX also adds a panel below an open dialog box with some useful file customization features. Want to see a thumbnail of a file? Select it in the list of files in the open dialog and click the Preview button on the panel. A thumbnail of the file will appear below the panel's button row.

If you click on the thumbnail, it will zoom to full size. However, DFX can't work its thumbnail magic with all files. For instance, I couldn't preview Microsoft Word or Excel files; nor could I preview some image files.

A click of the Information button displays information about the file. Comments searchable by Spotlight and tags can be added to a file from the panel, too. In addition, you can modify the permissions for a file.

The toolbar and file panel also appear when saving a file from an application, but the panel only lets you add comments, open meta tags, and label information to a file.

I recommend taking advantage of DFX's try-before-you-buy offer to see how your system responds to the app, since my MacBook Air had bouts of logy performance after I installed the software.

Nevertheless, Default Folder X enhances OS X's Open and Save dialog boxes in very productive ways -- ways that may outweigh any performance issues that might arise after installing the app.

Ulysses, Airmail Updates

Two apps I recently reviewed have announced updates.

Ulysses, a program for scribblers designed for creating digital rather than printed documents, has released the "biggest update" ever for the software, according to its developers, The Soulmen.

More than 287 tweaks, fixes and optimizations have been incorporated into version 1.1 of the app. Global searching and quick opening of files have been added to the offering, as well as improved typewriter scrolling.

Export file types -- PDF, HTML and ePub -- can be customized, and the ability to preview HTML and PDF files is built into the program.

A number of smart features have been added to the software, too. Smart paste lets you switch on the fly between paste modes -- text, code block or raw source. Smart lists automatically formats a list as you type, and smart tags automatically completes a tag as you compose a document.

Airmail is an email app that filled a gap left in the market when Google purchased Sparrow and buried it. When I reviewed the app, I liked the way it organized email flow but found its lack of support for a variety of email systems a deal-breaker.

With Airmail 1.1, its developers, Bloop, have addressed that problem in a big way. It supports not only POP 3 systems, but also IMAP and Microsoft's Web mail offerings -- Outlook, Hotmail and Live -- as well as its Exchange platform. It will even support Exchange contacts.

There are a number of other improvements, too. You can compose messages in HTML and Markdown, for example. Multitouch gestures are now supported. Search has been improved. Vcalendar is now supported. The program will automatically update threads and let you customize its plain text font and color in its default mode.

These latest enhancements make Airmail a true alternative to Apple Mail.

John Mello is a freelance technology writer and former special correspondent for Government Security News.

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