Mateusz Stawecki

Personal Site

While I’m really enjoying OS X El Capitan (everything runs smoother and my MacBook is much colder) it has put a large nail into the coffin of my two favourite OS X apps: TotalTerminal and TotalFinder. In my opinion, both apps were essential for developers working on their MacBooks in the field, but could also prove useful for any OS X users.

How it works?

The idea is to simplify access to Finder’s folder view and any active Terminal session, by using a global hot key (like ctrl+` for Terminal and alt+` for Finder). Finder would appear at the bottom of the screen, Terminal at the top. This way, you can easily drag and drop files from Finder to other apps like Xcode or even your active Terminal session without switching desktops. It’s particularly useful when using a single display.

Why it’s broken on El Capitan?

In OS X El Capitan, Apple has introduced SIP – “System Integrity Protection”, which protects your system from being tampered by malicious software like malware. One big step for security, but an unfortunate breaking change for plug-ins and apps that rely on these kind of hacks for non-malicious things.

If you’re willing to live with the risk, you can disable System Integrity Protection as the author of TotalFinder explains here, however he does not recommend it.

Proposed replacement!

Ok, so Apptivate isn’t exactly a replacement for TotalFinder, but I’ve originally started using TotalFinder to gain access to features like tabs and the visor. Since then Finder gained pretty good tab support. The visor was extremely useful, but was always a little laggy. Apptivate allows me to create a show/hide hotkey for Finder. Simply add a hotkey for the Finder application and in the Apptivate’s prefereces tick the “Hide application if it is active” setting. Open Finder and move it to the bottom of the screen. In the dock, ctrl-click Finder, select Options > Assign to: All Desktops.
I’ll miss TotalFinder’s split folder view, but Finder’s performance on El Capitan is fantastic, which makes this solution very responsive.

While TotalTerminal was a way of adding custom behaviour to the original Terminal, iTerm2 is a complete replacement with many additional features. Here’s a post on how to configure the visor feature.

3 Responses to “Visor-like access to Finder and Terminal on OS X El Capitan”

  1. Chris Gibson

    This is a great tip, thanks. Apptivate seems to work really well as a Visor replacement. If anyone is struggling to find the Finder application, though, it’s in
    /System/Library/CoreServices/ (on my 10.9 machine, anyway).

  2. yannux

    Great tips ! I already use iTerm.
    I was using TotalFinder and as you said it was little laggy, but with Apptivate it’s not !


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