Finder Apps & El Capitan

I have used Finder enhancement applications in OS X for many years. I started out using TotalFinder from Binaryage Software and then moved on to Path Finder from Cocoatech. There are other Finder enhancement apps like XtraFinder from Ky Nam Software. If you are using any of these applications and plan to upgrade to the new El Capitan OS X then read on for some very important information.



Finder enhancement applications are totally cool, very helpful and quite popular on the Mac platform. Lets face it, even though the Finder has improved over the last few iterations of OS X there is still room for more features. Enter the Finder enhancement programs like TotalFinder, XtraFinder, Path Finder, etc. The Finder replacement apps like TotalFinder and I think XtraFinder work like this:

Both TotalFinder and TotalSpaces2 work by injecting code into processes that are part of OSX. They change the way those processes work, but they don’t change the underlying system – they just add features whilst they are running. If you quit TotalFinder or TotalSpaces2, those processes restart and system returns to its original state.

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That is a quote from the Binaryage website. As far as I can tell XtraFinder works in a similar manner. They are cool apps because they allow you to use all the OS X Finder process while improving on many of them. But, they are more dependent on the underlying functionality of OS X Finder.

Path Finder, on the other hand (at least as far as I can tell) is a third party, standalone app that works with the Finder but also adds all kinds of features. It is very powerful and full featured, but because it does not work by “injecting code” it is not as dependent on the underlying OS X Finder functions. It seems to sit on top of the Finder rather than “injecting code” down into it.

The El Capitan Problem

The problem that El Capitan is going to present to these apps is something Apple has designed in called “System Integrity Protection”, commonly known as “Rootless”. Here is a quote from the Binaryage website explaining how “System Integirty Protection” prevents TotalFinder from working:

However, in El Capitan OSX 10.11, this kind of modification will be disallowed by a new feature called “System Integrity Protection”. It is also known as “Rootless”. The feature prevents both modifications to your system files, and to system processes whilst they are running (even if you enter your password for administrator access).
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Binaryage mentions a workaround at the bottom of this page you can perform to alter the El Capitan OS so that it allows these types of apps to work, at least partially. Please note, Binaryage does NOT recmmend that people perform this workaround in El Capitan. I have read of this workaround on other websites, you know some people will do it. I highly recommend that you do NOT do this on your main production Mac. Perhaps it might be worth a test on an extra install of El Capitan. Apple has implented “System Integrity Protection” for good reason, disabling it is not to be taken lightly.

At this point in time, the TotalFinder people are not planning on continuing there TotalFinder and TotalSpaces apps past OS 10.10 Yosemite. Not sure about XtraFinder, there is not much information on their website. The Path Finder people have refused to comment, probably until they can get some testing time in OS X El Captian.

What Should We Do?

There is not much we can do at this point. It really remains to be seen if Apple will allow these types of Finder enhancement apps to work in the final El Capitan release. I am on the Apple Beta program and will be testing El Capitan for sure. I have several mission critial apps installed in my Yosemite Beta area in order to be able to test them when I upgrade to El Capitan. Cocoatech Path Finder 7 is one of these apps. Hopefully, they will be able to make it work in El Capitan, only time will tell. And, perhaps some third party developer will find a way to make a Finder enhancement app work with “System Integrity Protection”, who knows. Until we know more about El Capitan stay tuned.