Best file explorer software for Mac

Most of us use the Finder every day without giving it a second thought. It’s just there, right. We use it to access, move, copy and delete files. And Finder has indeed improved significantly in recent versions of macOS with the addition of tabs, tags, Quick Look, and markup tools. However, it’s far from the only way of managing files on your Mac. There are many alternatives for managing files on your Mac, whether you want a complete replacement for the Finder or a specialist tool that does things the Finder can’t. Here are the best file managers for your Mac.

Here’s an overview of the three best.

1CleanMyMac X
Large & Old Files module. Space Lens to monitor large files.Link
2ForkLiftDual pane interface. Can connect to remote serversLink
3Gemini 2Can identify duplicate files and those that are similar but not identical.Link

1. CleanMyMac X

Movies selected in LAOF in CleanMyMacX

It’s not usually thought of as a file manager, but CleanMyMac X has a couple of great tools for dealing with files on your Mac. Its Large & Old Files module allows you to quickly identify those files that are taking up the most space on your Mac or those that have been hanging around for a long time without being opened and delete them in a batch.

iMovie library scanned with CleanMyMac X

CleanMyMac X also has a Space Lens. What’s that? It’s a graphical representation of every file and folder on your Mac, whether it’s an application binary, text document, movie, or anything else. It builds a map of all those files and then displays them in ‘bubbles’ where the size of the bubble represents the amount of space the file takes up. You can drill down into folders and see their contents in the same way. It makes it very easy to see what is hogging space on your drive.

2. Forklift

Forklift has a couple of significant advantages over the Finder. The first is that it has a dual-pane interface. This means that – unlike the Finder, where even with two tabs open, you can only see one location at a time – you can view two different directories side by side. That’s very useful if you want to compare their contents visually, but it also makes moving and copying files easier.

The other advantage of Forklift is its support for remote servers like FTP and WebDAV. While you can connect to these in the Finder, Forklift has been designed from the start as a tool to make FTP transfers easy. So, for example, you can synchronize a local folder with one on an FTP server, or you can change the order in which files are transferred and set rules for when conflicts occur.

Forklift also allows you to create and save workspaces, edit remote files on your Mac, and compare two text or image files with each other.

3. Gemini 2

Gemini is another of these apps that's not a straight replacement for the Finder but does a few things that you can’t do with Apple’s built-in file manager. Gemini scans your Mac looking for duplicate files, which can be text documents, photos, movies, music, or any other file type. It then uses an algorithm to pre-select files that it thinks you will want to delete because they are duplicates. You can choose whether to accept its recommendation and delete everything it suggests, or review the duplicate files yourself and manually delete those you want to get rid of.

But that’s not all Gemini does. As well as identifying duplicates, it can also find similar files – files that aren’t identical to each other but have lots of similarities. These could be visually similar images, text documents with lots of similar text, or other files whose content is not quite identical.

Gemini can even restore recently deleted files if you realize you’ve made a mistake when you delete them.

4. Dropover

Dropover makes it very easy to move files around on your Mac. It uses the concept of ‘shelves’ as places to store files you want to work with or move somewhere else. Just select a file or files and ‘shake’ the cursor by moving your mouse or finger on the trackpad from side to side. When you do that, a new shelf appears, and you can drop the files onto it. You can create as many shelves as you want and use them to group files. Once files are on a shelf, you can use share sheets to share them with apps like Mail or Messages, move them to a cloud storage service or create a publicly shareable link to share them using DropOver cloud.

You can also create shelves by dragging files onto the menu bar or using the Dropover share extension. If you close a shelf by accident, you can reopen it and view the files you have recently uploaded to the Dropover cloud.

5. Commander One

The last in our list of the best file managers for your Mac is another potential Finder replacement. Commander One, like Forklift, has a dual-pane interface, allowing you to work on files in two different locations simultaneously. Those locations can be local, such as your startup disk or connected storage drives, or remotes – Commander One supports FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, Amazon S3, and most popular cloud storage and backup services.

You can search using regular expressions, and there are lots of keyboard shortcuts to allow you to work quickly on files. One really neat feature is that you can mount iOS devices like an iPhone or iPad and copy files to and from them. And Commander One can also open lots of different file archive types, meaning you don't need a separate app to do that.

As you can see, there are lots of really good file managers for the Mac. Which one you choose will depend on whether you want to replace the Finder or add new features. All of the apps listed here are well worth checking out.