Wellcome to Path Finder 8.5

More than a year ago, we introduced Path Finder: Version 8. As you can read here, with that version, we started a long overdue process of overhauling the entire application. The PF 8 update added all the new features that were needed to bring Path Finder into modern days of ever-changing macOS. We continue that process with version 8.5. Even though it doesn’t bring the required amount of innovation and changes to justify a significant version bump, it still brings a lot of new fundamental things, which deserves a dedicated blog post. Moreover, since it is not a new major version, we released it for free to our community of over 100k users.

So what is the big news in this version? Continuing our pursuit for better performance, reliability, and modern code base, we replaced outdated StuffIt SDK with our own archiving engine based on system libraries and frameworks already built-in into the system. A huge change like this deserves a few lines of history.

“We were busy adding new features and capabilities, and we rarely gave any thought about archiving because it was already functioning very well. Our application overhaul process finally came to haunt us and ultimately expel StuffIt SDK this spring, with the introduction of our own archiving engine based on libarchive.”

At the time Path Finder gained the ability to archive/compress and expand/decompress archives, the most used program on macOS for such purposes was StuffIt Expander (used for expanding and bundled with OS installation) and StuffIt Deluxe (which could also handle archiving) from Smith Micro Software. Few others were coming from old MacOS 8/9 and ported to macOS using Carbon framework, but they were not widely used. Most importantly, there wasn’t any library or framework built into the system, which could handle those tasks. Besides offering above mentioned applications, Smith Micro also offered StuffIt SDK, a framework that could handle archiving/expanding task with most widely used archiving and compression formats at the time. Their SDK was a natural choice for Path Finder, which has been using it ever since version 2.0

Years were passing by and StuffIt application and SDK were becoming less and less used, as macOS was getting more and more capabilities and built-in libraries and frameworks expanding the number of tasks Path Finder could do without reaching for the help of 3rd party frameworks. Finally in 2009, macOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) came with build in libarchive library. That made a huge positive turn regarding archiving and expanding tasks in macOS without reaching for external help. Almost ten years have passed since then, and Path Finder continued using StuffIt SDK for much longer than it was necessary. We were busy adding new features and capabilities, and we rarely gave any thought about archiving because it was already functioning very well. Our application overhaul process finally came to haunt us and ultimately expel StuffIt SDK this spring, with the introduction of our own archiving engine based on libarchive.

All this brings some incredible gains and depending on archive/compression format; the new engine offers up to 30% speed improvement when archiving and even more (in some cases up to 65%) when expanding files. Path Finder can now create ZIP, that is password protected, 7-ZIP, XAR, TAR, PAX and CPIO archives, compressed with various compression formats, such as GZIP, BZIP2, Compress, XZ. Expanding support now includes ZIP, 7-ZIP, XAR, TAR, PAX, CPIO, AR, LHA/LZH, RAR and CAB archives, with various decompression filters, including XZ, LZIP, and LZMA. Worth noting is that due to the new archiving engine, the application bundle size has been reduced from 53 MB to 38.5 MB! Additionally, we didn’t just replace the old archiving engine. We took the opportunity of introducing the new one to also integrate it much better into file operations workflow. Now, archiving and expanding operations are treated as any other file operation (copy/move/delete). This includes queueing, progress bar and finish time estimation, so it is as easy to learn and use them as the rest of Path Finder.

Version 8.5 brings some other improvements as well. Since we’ve already touched file operations, we took the opportunity to improve copy/move/delete engine as well. There are speed improvements across a wide range of different file copying scenario, and the most significant gains come when copying a bunch of files in folder hierarchies on SSD volumes formatted with APFS. In this particular case, file copying can be up to three times (3x) faster, but on average, you will see a 5 – 50% increase in file copying speed. File deletion has also gained some minor speed improvements. See it in action below:

Second to saving time, we wanted to save you space on your Mac in several ways. As mentioned, the application itself is 30% smaller, some new archiving and compression formats sport better compression ratio (like 7-ZIP and LHA/LZH/LZMA). Additionally, we wanted to make files that take up tons of space, easier to find. We have had the Size Browser as a tool for many years, but many people did not know about it and had a hard time finding it. So, we added a button to it right in the toolbar as a default.

Size Browser Button Path Finder 8.5
Find the new Size Browser button in the main menu of Path Finder 8.5

Size Browser shows the list of files and folders inside a selected folder ordered by size so you can find the large ones you forgot about and delete or compress them.

One more thing we did to save you time is to add a new “undo” panel in case you mistakenly moved a file or performed any other undoable operation and want to undo it quickly. Again, undoing actions was always possible, but we just made it easier and more apparent. In case you don’t want to be reminded of undoable actions, uncheck “Show undo panel” in Path Finder preferences.

Finally, we want to rest assure you that we listen to users feedback. We are aware of issues, small bugs, and feature requests you send to us, and we take all of them seriously. We are continually working on them to improve Path Finder in general. We are also currently working on a comprehensive Path Finder Manual. If you have pro tips to share, please reach out to kimberly@cocoatech.com. We will happily credit your unique contributions. All those activities and difficulties that we are facing in implementation deserve a dedicated blog post, so look for our next blog post in a few weeks. To be sure not to miss it, please sign up for our e-newsletter on our home page and find us on Facebook & Twitter. We hope our loyal users recognize the efforts we consistently put in to make Path Finder the best file management experience for MacOS. Enjoy the Path Finder 8.5 update and keep your eyes peeled for partner offers and more news right around the corner! May you have many productive hours with PF 8.5 coming in your future.

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