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Apps I can’t live without: Default Folder X

When I switched to Mac computers in 2007, I was surprised by how simple and effective the file system was. There were some big differences though, and I constantly searched for apps that could help making the system behave more like Windows. That’s obviously not the case anymore, but as a result I’ve discovered some very nice apps along the way, that I can’t live without even today. Default Folder X is one of those.

OS X has some very nice features related to file management and organization right out of the box, like favorites folders and dock folders, that can dramatically improve you workflows when it comes to handling files. I myself for example always have the Downloads folder pinned to the dock, set to the ”Fan” view and sorted by ”Last added”. That way, whenever I download a new file from my web browser, the file will immediately be available to me in the dock, and I can easily open/drag it to the target application. Sure beats saving all files to the desktop (yes, people still do that, both beginners and experts… urgh).

A dock folder in action. Always accessible files at the bottom of your screen.

A dock folder in action. Always accessible files at the bottom of your screen.

Another common use case is when you want to save a document to a certain folder. In that situation you can use favorite folders to navigate more quickly to target locations. But what if you want to save files to a folder that you just recently created or worked with, or any folder that you don’t really want to add to your favorites?

That’s where Default Folder X comes in. This application, currently in its 5th version, has existed since 1987, but I haven’t met many Mac people using it to be honest. Whether this is because of unawareness or just a testament to how much this breed of people favors simplicity when it comes to their working environment, doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they should at least know about it, especially if they’re serious about productivity and call themselves professional Mac users.

Making the file dialog less of a chore

Default Folder X 5 by St Clair Software, is like steroids for the save and open file dialog, as it not only allows you to quickly access recently used folders, set up default folders for specific apps or change how the file dialog behaves in general, but also perform file management actions directly in dialogs, like previewing, adding tags and comments, or even renaming and deleting files. File management in dialogs is nothing new to Windows users of course, and some behaviors that Default Folder make available might actually be expected in non-OS X operating systems.

But the most unique feature of Default Folder, that makes it such an indespensible app for me, might be the ”Finder-click” feature. How this works might be a bit hard to explain, but let’s say you recently opened a project folder in Finder, and later you surf around for images that you’d like to save to that folder. When the save dialog appears, you can just click around that area where your project folder window is positioned – it will be indicated when you move your mouse over that area – and you will immediately be taken to that folder! You can also right-click to access Finder tabs, if tabs is something you fancy.


Click on Finder windows that are hidden in the background to easily access relevant folders. Image by St Clair Software

Finder-click in combination with the ”Recently used folder” access are features that drastically improves your workflows in daily use cases and seriously saves time.

Get going!

Default Folder X 5 costs $34.95 – $14.95 if you’re upgrading – and you can try it 30 days for free. The price might seem a bit high, but at least if you work with computers, I would say that 35 bucks is a pretty low price to pay considering how much time you’ll save in the long run.

So do yourself a favor, and buy it now, if you don’t already have it. Please note that I’m not getting paid for saying this; it’s just my honest personal opinion.

Before using the application, I recommend that you take some time familiarizing yourself with the settings, to customize your user experience. I’ve set up the Default Folder X bar and animations to be as minimal as possible, but I guess that’s a matter of preference.

Wrapping it up

I’ve wanted to write about this app for a long time, but it wasn’t until recently that it got fully compatible with the latest OS X version, so I’ve kind of been waiting a little. I don’t really like recommending stuff that require complicated hacks to get going! Anyway, hope you like the post and see you next time.

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