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I am having trouble navigating through files on OS X. That is, creating files, copying, moving, and so on. I am currently using the Finder, but the act of clicking with the mouse is not very efficient. Acessing a deep folder takes a considerable amount of time and you'll have to know it's entire path.

When I try to use the command line it is even worse. Going to a folder requires at least typing it's entire path with the 'cd' command; and, when you are there, you don't have full control over it. For example, how would you move 3 specific files to another folder? Some text editors offer a 'fuzzy search' function that allows a very fast form of jumping through files.

What is a fast, efficient way to navigate through files on OS X?

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Do you know launchers like Quicksilver or Alfred? With Quicksilver, you can select multiple files or folders, combine them in actions, do something with them, et cetera. – slhck Sep 19 '12 at 22:02
Not just opening, but moving and manipulating them – Dokkat Sep 19 '12 at 22:18
There are lots of Unix text-mode and graphical file managers; most of them probably work on OS X (although you'll need X11 running for the graphical ones). Midnight Commander (and the whole family of "commander"-style file managers) is very keyboard-friendly. I don't know if any of those has nice fuzzy finding, though. And for native Mac apps, you might want to try PathFinder. I haven't used it, so I don't know how keyboard- or fuzzy search-friendly it is, but it's something to investigate. – echristopherson Sep 20 '12 at 1:39
You can also move and manipulate files with Quicksilver or Alfred. At least the fuzzy matching there is great. – slhck Sep 20 '12 at 6:10
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Quicksilver is indeed the absolute best way to search, open, move, copy, interact with stuff on a Mac. I've been using it for many years and swear by it.

The Finder's column view is really great, IMO. It makes drilling through folder's very easy because you never really loose your context. I wish it would be introduced in some Linux explorers.

Whatever, there are many ways to use the keyboard in a Finder window in "column view":

  • Right enter folder
  • Left exit folder
  • Cmd+Up go to parent folder
  • type a few letters to jump to an element
  • Alt+Up jump to the first element
  • Alt+Down jump to the last element
  • Alt+Shift+Up select from current element to the first
  • Alt+Shift+Down select from current element to the last
  • Enter rename single element
  • Etc.

Cmd+Shift+G is super useful, too, and offers tab completion.

The lack of a "Cut" functionality for files and folders and the inability to perform non-contiguous selection without the mouse has always bugged me. Again, Quicksilver is here to help…

On the command line front, these two programs might tickle your fancy:

  • Ranger is like the Finder's column view in your shell, with Vi keybindings.

  • Vifm is a two pane file manager with a strong Vi-likeness and, of course, Vi keybindings.

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