If I had to guess which feature of Mac OS X gets the most criticism, I’d say the Finder. Not because it’s bad, but rather because it has the potential to be so good—and we use it so much in our day-to-day work—that its flaws are especially noticeable. (And, yes—obligatory nod to OS 9 fans—because there are still things that Mac OS 9’s Finder could do that the OS X version can’t.)
One of my personal peeves is the Finder’s tendency to lag behind me. I’ll save a document in a folder, but the document won’t appear immediately. Or I’ll create a new folder and name it, but the new folder doesn’t immediately get sorted correctly. Or a file will be downloading but the folder won’t reflect the increasing size of the download-in-progress. Sometimes clicking somewhere in the window will fix the problem, but other times I have to close the window and re-open it, or change the view mode, for the window’s contents to be updated correctly.
This long-standing bug was supposed to be fixed in Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4), but, unfortunately, many users—including myself—have found that the issue still occurs (if less frequently). There are a
number of utilities out there that help you deal with this issue by forcing the Finder to update its file listings, but in the absence of a true fix, wouldn’t it be great if Finder windows simply had a “refresh” button in their toolbars? You could just click this button to ensure that the current window’s visible listing accurately reflects the contents. Söderhavet’s free
Refresh Finder 1.1 ( ) gives you exactly that.
Refresh Finder is actually just a simple AppleScript saved as an application; specifically, launching Refresh Finder runs the following script:
tell application “Finder" tell front window update every item with necessity end tell end tell
But Söderhavet has given Refresh Finder an icon that makes the app perfect for Finder-window toolbars. Just drag Refresh Finder to the toolbar of any open Finder window and, after a couple seconds, you’ll be able to drop it there to add it as a new “button.” (If you choose to show toolbar-button text, you may want to rename the app to something shorter, such as “Refresh.app,” as I’ve done in the screenshot above.)
Now whenever you want to make sure the current Finder window is displaying its true contents, just click on the new refresh “button” in the toolbar. You can also—or instead—add the app to the sidebar of Finder windows and access it from there. (If you prefer to hide the toolbar and sidebar in Finder windows, you can place Refresh Finder in the Dock; however, for this approach to work, the Finder must be the active application and the window you want to refresh must be active/frontmost when Refresh Finder is launched.)
One limitation of Refresh Window—and all similar utilities, for that matter—is that if you’re viewing a Finder window in List view and have sub-folders expanded. Refresh Finder won’t update the contents of the sub-folders. This is a limitation of the Finder; you’ll need to open the sub-folder(s) separately and then refresh them individually.
One other limitation of Refresh Finder is that it updates only the front/active window. If you want to refresh all Finder windows, automatically, you can use a utility such as
FinderSync. However, I personally prefer the Refresh Finder approach to these automated utilities—Refresh Finder doesn’t slow down the Finder by regularly updating all windows, and it ensures that you’re seeing the very latest state of the current window. (With a scheduled-update app, you’re guaranteed a fully-updated window only immediately after a scheduled refresh, and there’s no way of knowing if a window has just been refreshed or was last refreshed several minutes ago).
UPDATE 4/27/2007 : Söderhavet has released version 1.2 of Refresh Finder, which refreshes the contents of all Finder windows at once.
Refresh Finder is a Universal binary.
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