Peek Inside Folders, Files With FolderGlance

I previously covered FinderPop, a great utility that, among its myriad features, lets you see what's inside a folder in the Finder by simply right-clicking on that folder--you get a hierarchical menu of its contents. But if that's the main FinderPop feature you want, FolderGlance is a good substitute--although it costs a bit more.

With FolderGlance installed, right-clicking (or Control-clicking) on a folder in the Finder pops up a contextual menu that includes that folder; mousing to the folder's name shows you a hierarchical list of the folder's contents. Choose an item to open it.

(When using FolderGlance, the Finder's standard contextual-menu options are hidden in a new Finder submenu. This is great for keeping the FolderGlance contextual menu uncluttered, but it does mean an extra level of menu navigation to get to the Finder's own options. You can avoid this step by holding down the Shift key when right-clicking on an item; this shows the standard Finder contextual menu instead of FolderGlance.)

You can also designate custom folders that always appear in the Finder's contextual menus. This feature makes it easy to quickly open a file or folder inside one of those folders. But even better is that you can move or copy an item into a custom folder: right-click on the item you want to move, navigate (via the resulting contextual menu) to the desired location inside a custom folder, and then choose Move Selection Here. Holding down the Option key copies the item instead; holding down the Shift key creates an alias.

If you navigate to a file and press Shift--or right-click directly on a file in the Finder--you'll get a handy submenu of applications, like the Finder's Open With menu; choose an application to use it to open the file. (FolderGlance can also display a separate list of already-running applications.) As with the Finder's own Open With feature, the first time you use this feature after logging in to your account, it can take a while to generate the list of applications. As an alternative, you can create a custom folder with aliases to your favorite programs and use that folder as a sort of personal Open-With list.

Navigate to a file and press Option, and FolderGlance will generate a small preview of the file's contents. This feature works on most common graphic formats, as well as HTML, text, and some word-processing files.

FolderGlance even works when multiple items--even items of different types--are selected. Each gets its own submenu and applicable options.

For those still using a single-button mouse, or a trackpad, FolderGlance lets you access contextual menus by simply holding down the mouse or trackpad button--no need to press the Control key. My only complaint about this feature is that the menu doesn't appear until you let go of the button; in the Finder, the cursor displays a contextual-menu icon to indicate you've held the button long enough, but there's no such feedback in other programs.

FolderGlance also offers a slew of options for customizing its menus. For example, you can choose to sort its menus alphabetically or by kind (folders, programs, packages, and files), to view or hide invisible items, to change the menu-font size, and much more. It's a more-focused alternative to FinderPop that some people may find easier to use.

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