Seamless navigation; ease-of-use; ahead of the game
Takes time to get used to; not for everyone
Those of you using Macs when Apple introduced OS X in 2001 – and those of you who’ve switched from PCs more recently – will remember how strange it was to be using a completely revamped Finder.
Turns out it didn’t take too long to get used to a new way of working with files, folders and windows, and most of us found that we were happy with doing things the Finder way.
But if you’d prefer to do things differently, you can. Even though it’s the main element that makes a Mac feel like a Mac, Finder, after all, is just a program that provides you with a specific way of seeing and working with OS X’s file system.
Made with creative, visual people in mind – those who like to see what they’re looking for rather than use a traditional file/folder tree structure – it shows you all your files and folders on a single, minimalist, zoomable surface.
You start it up as you would any other application, then it takes over the Finder desktop, leaving just the Dock and the menu bar at the top of the screen. (Tip: It becomes more seamless if you enable it as a Login Item in your Accounts System Preferences, then click the Hide button next to every other startup application.)
It does a quick analysis of your files and presents you with a blue screen populated by long columns instead of folders – applications on the left, and ‘Places’ on the right.
While folders are closed, these columns are always-open, showing you thumbnails of their contents. These vary in size according to, say, document length and image size.
You explore the contents of your Mac by using two-finger scrolling on a trackpad or Magic Mouse, or Spacebar-click-dragging using a ‘normal’ mouse. Double-clicking on a column, folder area or thumbnail zooms you in to it; doing the same to a ‘bigger’ area zooms you out. There are also many keyboard shortcuts and customisable views.
Raskin is all about visual and spatial perception – knowing where on your screen something sits, or seeing it, rather than having to find it.
If you need to you can switch back to the Finder at any time.
Australian Macworld’s buying advice
‘Flying’ in, out and all around to navigate through the data on your Mac is a very different way of working, but a very good one for those willing to learn.
With all this talk about OS X Lion taking steps towards the iOS, Raskin is ahead of the game. It’s great to use with a Magic Trackpad, and it would be perfect to use with a touchscreen Mac.
Do yourself a favour and download the trial from www.raskinformac.com.
This review originally appeared in the December issue of Australian Macworld magazine.