Nifty File Lists review: Easily turn files and folders into metadata spreadsheets

Save file lists in Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers and Pages-friendly CSV (Comma-Separated Values), TSV (Tab-Separated Values), and even HTML formats.

nifty file list mac icon

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At a Glance

When it comes to batch renaming or altering file and folder attributes, few utilities do it better than A Better Finder Rename and A Better Finder Attributes. (Due to Apple restrictions on using “Finder” in the name, Mac App Store users know them as Better Rename and File Multi Tool instead.) Developer Frank Reiff’s latest file-related software has nothing to do with manipulating data, but rather generating lists from it.

If you’ve ever wanted to make an Excel-compatible spreadsheet from files on your hard drive, that’s exactly what Nifty File Lists does. Add files or folders, choose your desired columns from an extensive range of options, and this utility outputs a list as common CSV or TSV files which can be opened by number-crunching apps like Microsoft Excel and Apple Numbers, or popular database software FileMaker Pro.

nifty file lists text output preview IDG

Load up a bunch of files and folders, and Nifty File Lists can create an Excel-compatible spreadsheet in a matter of seconds.

Nifty File Lists also includes a convenient option to copy data to the clipboard and paste directly into a spreadsheet instead, great for cutting down on unnecessary file clutter while creating large batches of lists. Web developers can even output lists as HTML 5 or skip a step by copying data straight into their preferred HTML editor software instead.

Columns can be customized to include more than 315 potential metadata types across 11 different categories, including digital photo-specific EXIF, GPS, and IPTC options as well as ID3 and other common data found in music and video files. As if that wasn’t comprehensive enough, Nifty File Lists is also capable of extracting attributes from Spotlight metadata, providing maximum compatibility with AAC-encoded audio files like those purchased from iTunes. (Music lovers take note: Spotlight and ID3 make up the lion’s share of the offered metadata options.)

nifty file lists column data categories IDG

There are over 315 different column types to choose from across 16 categories with Nifty File Lists.

Swift and nifty

Written entirely in Swift and taking full advantage of the latest macOS multi-threading capabilities, Nifty File Lists is definitely a speed demon, even when adding or processing thousands of files at a time. It’s also quite sparse—the app has zero preferences of any kind, with all options configured from the blue panel at left.

It’s here where you add Source Files/Folders (or clear the current batch to start over); choose to Process only files, folders, and/or subfolders; select from a variety of Sorting options; add desired Columns; and finally, determine options for the Output Format, including date, line breaks, and encoding. On the right side of the window, there’s a live Preview Table of the selected columns, or you can switch to view the final Text Output instead.

nifty file lists sorting options IDG

All the usual file sorting options are here, but Nifty File Lists offers no way to create custom sort options using columns.

Although Nifty File Lists is fairly straightforward, the first version lacks some of the user interface spit and polish the developer’s other apps are known for. While you can manually arrange columns from the left-hand panel via drag and drop, there’s no way to do this from the Preview Table, which would have been a more intuitive approach.

Despite offering 16 ways to sort results by name, date, size, path, and other common filters (not to mention two different methods, First and Then), there are no custom sorting options beyond these basic parameters. A more Mac-like experience would have been to click on one or more column headers to control how data gets sorted. Worse yet, once you have everything set up the way you like, there’s no way to save those options as a preset to reuse again in the future.

Bottom line

For what is admittedly a niche product, Nifty File Lists does what it promises, despite the occasionally unintuitive UI and lack of custom sort options.

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At a Glance
  • Nifty File Lists allows you to save file lists in Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers and Pages-friendly CSV (Comma-Separated Values), TSV (Tab-Separated Values), and even HTML formats.


    • Easily create metadata list from files, folders
    • CSV, TSV, HTML, copy to clipboard output formats
    • Quickly add, process thousands of files at once


    • Columns can’t be arranged from Preview Table
    • No custom sort options
    • Configurations can’t be saved as a preset
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