US$34.95 / AU$53.95
Default Folder X 5.6 offers sophisticated, easy-to-access
file-navigation options that Apple should have built into macOS
decades ago. It's fortunate for Jon Gotow, its developer, that the
company did not, because it's given him a canvas to explore, and it
has grown and matured along with the operating system.
With Default Folder installed, all your open and save dialogs
have a highly configurable overlay that lets you click icons to one
side or use keyboard shortcuts to get quickly to the folder
location you want to be in. Apple's built-in navigation feels like
a cranky old jalopy compared to the jet-powered race car of Default
overlay provides quick access to nearly every folder you could
possibly need, without the effort of tedious navigation.
That overlay hides a massive array of useful and usable
features, many of which I use every time I open or save a file, and
some only weeks or months apart—but I'm glad they're there. Five
big-top features are worth the ticket price, even if you don't
visit all the sideshow attractions:
- Set a default folder (hence, the product's name) for any app
for its initial Open and Save dialog.
- Check Automatically select the last selected file in Open
dialogs, and you rebound to where you left off working—almost
always the place I want to be or at least nearby.
- Cycle backward or forward through the most recently visited
folders in which an action occurred (open or save) with keyboard
shortcuts, or select those locations directly via a dropdown
- With Default to the current document's folder in Save dialogs
checked, you rarely have to navigate to where you want to save the
next file. You're already there.
- With a dialog open, select a Finder window in the background to
navigate—you don't have to leave the dialog. How it works: Hold
down a modifier key (I configured it for Control), hover over an
open window on any display, and click to select it.
Setting a list of
favorites—and optionally adding a keyboard shortcut—provides
menu-based access to common locations.
I had to work hard to trim this list to five and omit some of
the dozens of other features you'll find helpful, too: rename files
and folders directly in a dialog, set favorite folders, access Home
folders and mounted volumes, select any Finder contextual item for
a file (like Compress) within a dialog, navigate through the
hierarchical folder list directly from dropdown menus, set keyboard
shortcuts globally and locally, preview with QuickLook directly in
an Open dialog…you get the picture.
Access to the folder
hierarchy within a dialog gives you the power to use Default Folder
to navigate deeply without leaving the dialog, including Quick Look
images and text previews.
Few pieces of Mac software can claim the pedigree of Default
Folder, which traces its origins to Gotow's DFaultD released in
1987. This evolved into Default Folder X for Mac OS X, still
showing its strength in the latest release, 5.6, which provides
full macOS 12 Monterey compatibility. That's a whopping 34 years.
(Monterey remains in beta at this writing, but few changes are
This latest release of Default Folder requires at least macOS
10.10 Yosemite—a version released in 2014—and works natively on
Intel and M1 Macs. You can also download older versions for older
Macs directly from the developer's website. A single-user license
is $34.95. Modest upgrade fees have historically been charged only
every several years for new versions.
Default Folder is the first piece of software I install on any
Mac, and it's the first utility I convince everyone I know to add
to theirs—if they aren't already in the know. It's
Stats collected for
nearly six years indicate I've used Default Folder 21,764 times. My
reaction: That few?
Former Macworld and Mac Gems editor Dan Frakes highlighted Default Folder in 2013, concluding
that its evolve-and-adapt strategy is a big reason why the software
has survived for 25 years—and why I still rely on it. It's only
gotten better since.
Welcome to the return of Mac Gems, a column that ran for
many years and highlighted great nuggets of Mac software—apps that
have a high utility, have a sharp focus on a limited set of
problems to solve, and are generally developed by an individual or
small company. With the strong resurgence of the Mac in recent
years, we want to celebrate tools we use and that readers recommend
to make the most of your macOS experience. Stay tuned for weekly
updates, and send your suggestions to the Mac Gems Twitter feed (@macgems).