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Pre-Snow Leopard, I could use the following command:

defaults write com.apple.loginwindow Finder /Applications/My-replacement-app-such-as-Terminal.app

Which would a.) replace the Finder launching at login with an application of my choice, and b.) cause that application to launch instead of Finder when all other applications are quit.

Is it possible to do this in Snow Leopard, or has this behavior been deprecated? (I don't want to disable Finder altogether, I just don't want it to start at login.)

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As a workaround: maybe you can add the Quit option to Finder (see lifehacker.com/333819/add-quit-to-the-finder-menu) and then run some AppleScript upon logging in, to invoke that Quit...? –  Arjan Jan 31 '10 at 11:47
    
I have added a Quit option to the Finder already. If I invoke the Quit when no other apps are running, though, the Finder will simply re-launch itself (as opposed to when this preference worked, wherein the custom app would launch instead). –  user23051 Mar 23 '10 at 19:54
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4 Answers

I removed Finder's launch agent from /System/Library/LaunchAgents/.

I wrote my own plist to start and keep alive Path Finder.

No Finder any time I restart my computer, but I can still open it if I ever wanted to.

I have 10.8 and no issues so far.

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Once upon a time this technique was blessed and documented by Apple

The technique used to replace the Finder is discussed in detail in the Replacing the Finder section of Inside Mac OS X: System Overview.

A installer can programatically replace the Finder by calling system and then the defaults command-line tool using the techniques described in System Overview.

(While "Inside Mac OS X: System Overview" is no longer available it used to say "defaults write loginwindow Finder path" which come Snow Leopard was nixed)

What you can do atm is compile a applescript to quit finder so it does not relaunch and add both that script and terminal as startup items, it is not that pretty but it works.

echo tell app \"Finder\" to quit | osacompile -o /Applications/Utilities/QuitFinder.app
defaults write ~/Library/Preferences/loginwindow AutoLaunchedApplicationDictionary -array-add '{ "Path" = "/Applications/Utilities/QuitFinder.app"; "Hide" = "1"; }'
defaults write ~/Library/Preferences/loginwindow AutoLaunchedApplicationDictionary -array-add '{ "Path" = "/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app"; "Hide" = "0"; }'
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That method does not work for me in 10.6.2. Others report this as well.

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That was actually me, incidentally, but thanks. –  user23051 Mar 23 '10 at 19:54
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http://www.cocoatech.com/faqs#3 Finder is mandatory in Snow leopard.

In Applescript the desktop is part of Finder, I don't know how this works from an Unix perspective, but I can imagine that Finder is like the core of all UI.

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That's funny, as I often quit Finder (see lifehacker.com/333819/add-quit-to-the-finder-menu) to get an ultra-clean desktop during presentations. After I do that, Finder will indeed relaunch automatically when all other applications are stopped, but my Mac runs just fine without Finder... –  Arjan Jan 31 '10 at 11:44
    
Yup, quitting the Finder works perfectly fine in Snow Leopard, just as it did in Leopard. I don't want to disable it altogether; it's just somewhat annoying when it launches at login, and very annoying when it launches after all other apps quit. –  user23051 Mar 23 '10 at 19:56
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