September 7, 2020

Part Three of My Battles with Emacs


The experiment is over. I quit Emacs.

The short version is the inability to trust simple things like copy and paste. I copy something from Safari and paste it into an Emacs buffer, it works fine. The problem is in the other direction. When I copy something in an Emacs buffer and paste it into another program, the text which was copied in Emacs is missing from the clipboard. When it works, I am surprised. It fails intermittently and that irks me.

The long version is that the program requires and encourages endless tweaking. It is a commendable goal. “Create the text editor you want.” I like the idea of that, but I don’t like the reality. This endless tweaking is getting into the way of me doing anything productive. The tweaking is not natural for me. It is a lot of google searches, trying things out, trying to understand why it worked, or why it didn’t. It is a tremendous time sink. Emacs is a learning experience, but it takes way too much time.

This is compounded by Doom Emacs. My lack of expertise with Vim is mixed with the lack of expertise with Emacs. Leading to me tearing out my non-existent hair. Not an enjoyable experience.

Yes. It was deeply frustrating. It was also exciting. Org-mode is an interesting beast. I loved parts of it. If you are willing to give this a few years, Emacs with org-mode is a worthy journey to be on. I am unfortunately too old for that particular journey.

With immense regret. I give up.

Thanks to Photo by Sem Steenbergen from Pexels

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

emacs macOS text editor
July 28, 2020

Path Finder IconPath Finder Icon

Path Finder Shines as a Finder Replacement

Product: Path Finder
Price: $36 or $18 for an upgrade from previous versions.

The Marketplace

Several products have tried to provide an alternative to the Finder.

There are products developed primarily for users migrating from Windows. The dual-paned Norton Commander clones. They include, DCommander, Double Commander, fman, and MacCommander to name a few. I have written about fman here.

There have been other products like ForkLift 3 and Path Finder who have tried to provide a viable alternative to the Finder through a re-imagining of what the typical file manager should be.

I might cover ForkLift 3 in a subsequent article. The focus for this article is Path Finder.

Path Finder

Path Finder is not a new product. It has been around since 2001. Path Finder has a broader vision than its competitors. It is designed to be a replacement of the Finder. It attempts to provide a feature-rich competitor to the Finder and is not an adjunct to it.

How does it do in that quest? It replaces the Finder with ease. You can be in Path Finder and not miss the Finder at all. I have been using the macOS Finder from the System 7 days. That is a lot of muscle memory accumulated over the years. Switching to Path Finder presented a challenge for a while. Took a couple of weeks, but now it is something that I am comfortable in and wouldn’t want to give up. In other words, I love Path Finder.

Path Finder is a deep program with a whole slew of features. The developer of Path Finder provides a generous 60-day trial for the product. Download it and check it out for yourself. You might be surprised at how good it is.

I am not going to list or talk about all its features in this one article. I am going to cover its modular nature, its preferences and give you my general recommendation. I am going to highlight a few features that I find useful in an upcoming series of articles on Path Finder.


Modules in Path FinderModules in Path Finder

Path Finder implements a series of features through its modules. You can drag these modules to the Path Finder window.

My Path Finder WindowMy Path Finder Window

The Drop Stack module is built-in. I like the Processes Module. There is a terminal module which is useful.

The ability to add functionality through the Modules is an interesting addition to the program. You use what you need and you get to customize where you want the modules to reside.

Path Finder Preferences

The Compression PaneThe Compression Pane

In Path Finder you can select a file/folder or a bunch of them, and compress them. It is similar to the Finder in this function.

The Compression TypeThe Compression Type

However, you can choose the kind of compression you want through the dropdown menu. That is better than the Finder default of a zip file.

Customizable Keyboard CommandsCustomizable Keyboard Commands

Path Finder gives you the option of adding/changing the keyboard command for all the menu items. A customizable feature which lets me use keyboard commands I am used to from the Finder.

Customizable Text EditorCustomizable Text Editor

You can customize aspects of the built-in text editor. Choose your font, set the word wrap to fit the window and other general preferences. This is not an alternative to BBEdit, but it is usable for quick text editing tasks. I use it mainly to create quick notes files.

Customizable Contextual MenuCustomizable Contextual Menu

You can customize the ⌃click menu in Path Finder. Choose what you want displayed, in the order you want it.

Customizable TerminalCustomizable Terminal

Path Finder gives you the ability to set up the in-built Terminal. I like the option to choose <tab> as the meta key. Makes working in Emacs easier.

General PreferencesGeneral Preferences

You have the option of launching Path Finder at login, and setting the default text editor and terminal. The one I like the most is the ability to set Path Finder as the default file browser. That allows me to use my Alfred and Keyboard Maestro workflows without any problems.

Regulating Finder Behavior in High SierraRegulating Finder Behavior in High Sierra

This preference is not the same in High Sierra and Catalina. In High Sierra you can remove the Finder and Trash icons from the Dock.

Regulating Finder Behavior in CatalinaRegulating Finder Behavior in Catalina

In Catalina, you can’t do that. Apple must have closed that door.

As you can tell, Path Finder is well-designed and their years of experience in this category shows in the implementation of features and their design. The preferences are well executed and customizable to fit your needs.


I am a fan. Path Finder is indispensable to me after four weeks of use. I heartily recommend it if you are interested in an alternative to the Finder.

Note: I was provided a review license for Path Finder by the developer when I asked for one.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

macOS pathfinder finder
July 7, 2020

Dropover the Shelf

Dropover iconDropover icon

Product: Dropover ‐ Easier Drag and Drop on your Mac.
P‎rice: $3.99

Dropover ShelfDropover Shelf

Dropover improves the Finder. It gives you shelves to gather files and folders, text snippets, and images from the Web. You drag items to the shelf to collect them, you drag them out of the shelf and put them where you want them to go. If you are moving around a bunch of files residing in nested folders several levels deep, Dropover makes the process of copying/moving these files easier.

You can drag text from a word processing application or a text editor to the Dropover shelf. Collect a few clippings and dump them all into another file. Saves you from the copy-paste routine.

You can have multiple shelfs active at the same time and drag files/clippings/folders into each of them and move the contents to your preferred destination.

Public LinkPublic Link

Dropover lets you create a public link to share with your friends and colleagues. Dropover uploads a file to iCloud Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive or Imgur and gives you an URL to share.


Dropover PreferencesDropover Preferences

Dropover preferences are easy to understand. The ability to set a keyboard command to elicit a new shelf is much appreciated. I don’t like the mouse/trackpad gestures to elicit a shelf, but it is available if you feel like using that.


  1. Dropover follows the macOS conventions. Moves the item when the location and the destination of the file is on the same hard drive partition. Copies the item when the location and destination of the files is on different hard drive partitions. I would like the ability to move files when the location and destination aren’t the same partition. A modifier key can be added to the drag to distinguish between a desire to copy or move.


I like Dropover and recommend it heartily.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

dropover macOS
June 28, 2020

WordWeb Pro and Others


Product: WordWeb Pro Dictionary and Thesaurus for Mac OS
Price: $4.99

Product: Chambers Thesaurus
Price: $6.99

Product: Oxford Dictionary of English for Mac OS
Price: $9.99

Product: Terminology for OS X Dictionary | Agile Tortoise
Price: Free

Product: Terminology | Agile Tortoise
Price: $1.99

Product: A.Word.A.Day
Price: Free

Product: ‎Spell Rift on iPhone
Price: $0.99

I love words. Always have.

WordWeb ProWordWeb Pro

I can spend hours leafing through a dictionary. It has the ability to take me to worlds and subjects I am not familiar with, and intrigue me with detail and nuance. I love the hours I spend with dictionaries.

WordWeb Pro CollectionsWordWeb Pro Collections

The default macOS dictionary is not bad but there are times when I need more help than it provides. WordWeb Pro is a solution which provides a dictionary and thesaurus. The good thing about WordWeb is that you can add different dictionaries to it. These are the ones you can add:

  1. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary for Mac OS
  2. Oxford Dictionary of English for Mac OS
  3. New Oxford American Dictionary for Mac OS
  4. Chambers Dictionary for Mac OS X
  5. Chambers Thesaurus for Mac OS
  6. Collins English Dictionary for Mac OS

WordWeb Pro ODEWordWeb Pro ODE

I grew up with the Oxford Dictionary of English and the Chambers Thesaurus, and am glad to have access to that again.

Terminology for macOSTerminology for macOS

Terminology for OS X Dictionary | Agile Tortoise is a great resource provided for free by the developer behind Drafts. It hooks into the macOS Dictionary app and is better than the standard macOS dictionary. Terminology has an iOS version and I find myself using it on both platforms all the time.

I subscribe to a fair number of newsletters. A.Word.A.Day is one of those newsletters. This newsletter is the one I look forward to every weekday morning.

There is a story about Alexander Haig and words. During his time in the Nixon administration, in an effort to improve himself, he used to learn a word a day and attempt to use it in conversation during the day. The effort was not always successful.

Spell Rift is a word game available both on iPhone and iPad. It is fun to play and it is well designed as all of the ‎Kieffer Bros. Apps on the App Store.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

dictionary macOS ios words
June 24, 2020


Cat For Stitching Files Together

I have been looking at a utility called Assembler for a while now. I need to merge text files together and have been considering buying Assembler to perform this task. It costs $9.99 and I have been debating whether it is worth that. I need that function occasionally and is it worth $9.99 to me?


A web-search lead me to Combine several text files into a single file in Unix. This is what they recommend.

You can join a bunch of files with the command:

cat file1 file2 file3 > newfile

Replace file1, file2, and file3 with the names of the files you wish to combine, in the order you want them to appear in the combined document. Replace newfile with a name for your newly combined single file.

If you want to add one or more files to an existing document, use the command:

cat file1 file2 file3 >> destfile

This command will add file1, file2, and file3 (in that order) to the end of destfile.

Note: If you use > instead of >>, you will overwrite destfile.

This looked easy enough to do and it was built into the OS.

Note: UNIX commands don’t like spaces in file names. Escape the spaces with \. For instance, the file world will be world\

Open in Terminal

I came across a useful utility called, Open in Terminal.

Open in TerminalOpen in Terminal

When I have a directory selected in a Finder window, I can press a keyboard command, ⇧⌘[, in my case, and my Terminal opens with the selected folder as the working directory.

I can then type cat and drag in to the terminal prompt the files I want combined, assign a filename to the combined file and press enter. It is quick and painless.

Running an OS with a UNIX underpinning gives the user a lot of power. It will be lucrative to discover what else it has to offer.


BBEdit solves this problem too.

From the BBEdit manual:

Inserting File Contents

The File Contents command inserts the contents of one or more files into the document you are editing. When you use this command, BBEdit displays an Open sheet in which you can choose the files to insert. To select more than one file hold down the Shift key or Control key as you click the files. BBEdit then inserts the contents of the selected files at the insertion point or replaces the selected text. If you select more than one file, the files will be inserted in alphabetical order, according to file name.

The Open sheet also presents an option named Include Separators, and if you enable this option, BBEdit will include a separator which consists of a dashed line and the file’s name between each inserted file’s contents.

You can also drag a file’s icon from the Finder into a BBEdit editing window to insert the contents of that file.

In BBEdit you can Choose Edit>Insert>File Contents… and from the dialog box choose the files you want added and you are ready to go.

It is a simple and easy way to achieve the act of joining a collection of files into one file.


I didn’t spend the money on Assembler. Managed to learn a valuable UNIX command and discovered a feature in BBEdit which I did not know about.

Note: Thanks to Photo by Alex Andrews from Pexels

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

cat text macOS terminal