Default Folder X 6: A tour of what’s new

Version 6 of Default Folder X, our app for quickly accessing folders and files in Open and Save dialogs and the Finder, has a bunch of exciting new features! This page gives an overview and instructions for the major additions in DFX 6.

In addition to this information, you’ll find more here:

And now on to the new features…

Quick Search

This gives you keyboard-based access to Recent and Favorite Items, including recently-launched applications and recently-used Finder windows. Note that it does NOT search your whole Mac, it searches the files, folders and apps that Default Folder X remembers for you1. In most cases, it will find exactly what you want without showing all the extra stuff you don’t want.

Personally, I find this a HUGE productivity booster, as it works system-wide, including within file dialogs. Press Command+Shift+Space and a window pops up, allowing you to select items by typing a few letters:

Once you’ve searched, hitting the Return key or clicking an item will open the selected result. If a file dialog is open, the item will open in the file dialog. If not, it will be opened in the Finder. You can also drag items from the search results to the Dock or another application.

Control+click on any result to get a contextual menu for more operations on that item. If it’s a folder, the menu will contain a “Contents” submenu that lets you navigate through the folder and its subfolders using Default Folder X’s hierarchical menus.

Using the up and down arrow keys or hitting Command+number key selects a result in the list. Command+1 selects the first, Command+2 the second, etc.

Searching Folders: When a folder is selected in the results, hitting the right arrow key or the ‘>’ button starts a search within that folder. The left arrow key goes back to where you came from, either the parent folder or the overall search results.

Narrowing Your Search: Clicking on the button to the left of the search field lets you limit the search to particular types of items. Note that there are keyboard shortcuts for all of them so you don’t have to take your hands off the keyboard.

If you search specifically for applications, Default Folder X will also search for apps in the standard Applications folders rather than just showing recently used apps – because I personally use Default Folder X as my go-to app launcher 😁

If you choose Spotlight, you’ll get results from your system’s Spotlight index instead of from Default Folder X. If you’re at the top level of the Quick Search window, this searches your entire Mac. If you’re searching within a folder, Spotlight will give you all files and folders whose names match within that folder and all of its subfolders.

The default keyboard shortcut for the Quick Search window is Command+Shift+Space. If you’d like to use a different shortcut, you can change it in Default Folder X > Settings > General. 

Expanded Filename Field

This is automatically available in all applications.

In Save As dialogs, the box where you type the filename is way too small. How ’bout we fix that?

Drag and Drop

You can now drag and drop files and folders onto Default Folder X’s icon in your menu bar. When you do, it will pop up its menu so you can select a destination for them. As with the Finder, dragging an item to a different folder on the same volume will move it, while dragging to a different volume will copy it. The same modifier keys used by the Finder also apply (Command+drag always moves an item, Option+drag copies it, Command+Option+drag creates an alias).

Dragging a Read Me file to Default Folder X’s icon, then using its menu to move it to the Sample Files folder.

Customizable Menu

Default Folder X’s menu in the menu bar can be reorganized. You can add and remove different features and submenus and reorder them by dragging them around in the new menu editor. Just click on the “Customize” button in the General tab of your Default Folder X settings.

For fans of Folder Sets, they’ve been removed from the default menu configuration in v6, but you can add them back to the menu here.

Save Actions

Automatically perform actions on a file after you save it. This can be as simple as immediately opening the saved file or attaching it to an email, or as complex as using AppleScript, Automator or Shortcuts to process the saved file in some customized way. 

These options appear in a new “Actions” tab below every Save dialog:

To add more scripts or workflows, use the last item in that action’s menu to open the appropriate folder, then copy your script or workflow into it. For shortcuts, Default Folder X automatically shows all shortcuts you’ve saved in the Shortcuts app.

Sync Settings via iCloud

You can now synchronize your Default Folder X preferences between multiple Macs. Note that both Macs need to be logged into iCloud using the same Apple ID, and must have the same folder structure so that recent and favorite folders on one machine are also present on the other. If they’re not, the missing items will be grayed out in Default Folder X’s menus.

To turn on synchronization, just enable the checkbox in Default Folder X > Settings > Options. The setting must be turned on on all Macs that you want to synchronize.

Improved Finder Drawer and Drag Zone

The drawer in the Finder and Drag Zone on the left side of file dialogs have been rewritten. They now support proper drag and drop, including dragging to reorganize items, multi-selecting items, etc.

Use the drawer as a temporary holding area when dragging files from one place to another, or leave items in it so you can access them quickly when you need them. Note that if there’s a folder in the drawer, you can drag items into it.

Enhancements All Around

Many existing features throughout Default Folder X have been improved:

  • Support for macOS 14 Sonoma
  • Settings that are easier to navigate and understand.
  • Default Folder X interface has been refined, including the addition of a translucent theme.
  • Selecting multiple items in the Folder and Folder Sets settings performs operations on all of them.
  • The Option key toggles Default Folder X’s menu sorting between sort-by-name and sort-by-date.
  • The path to a selected item is shown in the Info tab below Open dialogs. Click on the path to copy it.
  • Recently-changed items in specific folders can be excluded from Default Folder X’s menus.
  • Default Folder X’s menu now offers submenus for Recent Apps and Recent Finder Windows.
  • Finder label colors are now shown in the menus.
  • Recently used applications are tracked.
  • Support for the macOS Shortcuts app.

And much more!

Try It Yourself!

These descriptions give you the outline, but it’s always better to try features out and see how they feel when you actually use them. You can download Default Folder X and try it for yourself. There’s a free, 30 day trial.

  1. Quick Search searches your Favorites, Finder windows, 200 most recent folders and closed Finder windows, and 1000 most recent files and apps. ↩︎

19 Responses to “Default Folder X 6: A tour of what’s new”

  1. Ernst M. Reicher says:

    first I have to say how I love DFX! I use it since years – can’t remember how long! It’s my favorite Mac extension!

    “Drag and Drop on Default Folder X’s icon in your menu bar” is a big step to what I loved to see since years (from the time of finderPop that unfortunately “passed away”). What about the transition of this to a Finder context menu item? To select “move to” (or “copy to”) from a right click menu in the Finder would be the far more obvious thing as to drag something across a big screen?

    Kind regards,

    • Jon says:

      Let me see what I can do. The contextual menu API won’t let me include Default Folder X’s menu directly in the contextual menu (because DFX builds the menu on the fly as you mouse through folders, and that isn’t possible in contextual menus). However, I could provide a “Move To” menu item that then pops up Default Folder X’s menu at that spot on the screen.

      Thanks for the suggestion!

      • Merv says:

        I love this, as well! A question. You wrote:

        “You can now drag and drop files and folders onto Default Folder X’s icon in your menu bar. When you do, it will pop up its menu so you can select a destination for them. As with the Finder, dragging an item to a different folder on the same volume will move it, while dragging to a different volume will copy it.”

        Is there any way, perhaps with a modifier key, to enable *moving* an item when dragging to a different volume? I’ve been using DropZone for this, but it has a bug that I won’t detail here. Bottom line, I would love to be able to use DFX to *move* items to a different volume (instead of copying). 😊

        • Jon says:

          I’m inclined to do this with another modifier key combination of some sort, rather than making it the default behavior (and yet another option in Default Folder X’s already-overloaded settings). I think the default behavior should mimic what the Finder does – that’s what people expect to happen.

        • Jon says:

          And yes, I realize the Finder’s behavior doesn’t necessarily “make sense.” I mean, why should dragging an item copy it instead of moving it just because it’s going to a different volume? Is this a holdover from when we used floppy disks to shuttle files between computers? Nonetheless, I still think Default Folder X should follow the standard behavior that Apple provides.

        • Wayt says:

          MacOS has a built-in shortcut to do what you describe: hold down Command when dragging a file to another volume to move it rather than copy it.

          • Jon says:

            Yes – that’s what I implemented in Default Folder X after the previous discussion here. It’s mentioned above in “The same modifier keys used by the Finder also apply (Command+drag always moves an item, Option+drag copies it, Command+Option+drag creates an alias).”


            – Jon

    • Jon says:

      Oh – by the way, it’s not documented, but you can also drag items onto Default Folder X’s icon in your Finder toolbar if you’ve got “Add menu to Finder toolbars” turned on. That’s a shorter distance to drag 🙂

  2. David Brown says:

    Congratulations on a great update. The quick search and the ability to move/copy files via Default Folder X’s menu bar and Finder tool bar items are very useful. The new translucent style is beautiful.

    I have been using the beta versions for quite some time now. It took a fair amount of time to become adept at using the quick search and move/copy features. I encourage anyone trying out the new version to give yourself time to get used to it. Your first impression will not be your last.

    • Jon says:

      Thanks! It really does take a little while for the new features to “sink in” and become part of your workflow. Once they do, however, they’re hard to live without! At least for me, anyway 🙂

      I’m glad you like the update!

      – Jon

  3. Andrew Rodney says:

    The save as using an Action (workflow) is fantastic! Now in Photoshop, I can save using actions to convert to profiles, save off a PNG etc quickly and easily. Once I copied the workflows into the proper folder for DFX, it all works great. Tried the save and insert it into Mail, worked like a charm. VERY slick.

    • Jon says:

      Thanks for letting me know – that makes me very happy 🙂 The actions are a really powerful way to streamline your workflow, even if they’re only going to be used by 5% of the people that use Default Folder X (maybe 5% is even a bit optimistic…).

      – Jon

  4. Tudor says:

    Could you add another Save Action please? Something like “Open the file location in Finder”… and if possible, select the file in that Finder window.

    Or maybe it could it be implemented via AppleScript/Automator/Shortcuts?

    Thank you for this wonderful piece of software!

  5. Joe Zander says:

    If i changed to Big Sur some weeks ago i found that i had no preview under the open dialog in list mode. I was upset about Appe to remove that (I had this preview window on my old system) No as i installed your Default Folder for Big Sur i found out that the preview window will come from your software! I use DF for about 15 years, i dont know a system without this so i thought it was a Apple Finder thing. You should emphasize this a lot more because this is such an important feature for photo editors!

    Thanks again for this indispensable program.


    • Jon says:

      Haha – thanks! Yes, Default Folder X has a number of features that we all start to assume are just part of macOS after a while 🙂 The previews are indeed helpful for designers and editors – I’ll try to highlight that more in the future.

  6. Herbert says:

    As already mentioned by others:
    I love DFX and, as a longterm customer I congratulate the team for the formidable work they do for years already.
    Please keep up, please preserve your creative/solid spirit.


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