NetFinder ($20 shareware) by Peter Li and Vincent Tan
File Transfer Protocol (ftp) is built into all the popular web browsers. It's so integrated that many people don't even realize it's there. So why would anyone want to install another program to handle ftp? I didn't know either, until I found Netfinder.
FTP is designed to let you manipulate files on a remote server. Listing files, renaming them, deleting them, and transferring them to or from the server are the kinds of activities a good ftp program makes easy. They're also activities you already do with the files on your hard drive. The logical thing to do is use the same interface the Finder uses to deal with files over a network. That's what NetFinder does, and that's why its name is so appropriate.
Opening a directory on a remote ftp server using NetFinder presents you with a window that looks rather like a finder window in list view. Folders have small disclosure triangles next to them that work exactly like they should. Dragging files into or out of the window uploads or downloads them, respectively. Clicking on a file's name allows you to rename it. Clicking one of the window headers will sort the file list by name, size, or any other attribute. You don't need to learn how to use NetFinder, because everything just works the way you expect it to.
If you don't have your own web page you won't need most of NetFinder's features. But even the casual web surfer can make use of resumable downloads. Here's how it works - NetFinder can make itself the default helper program for ftp operations. Afterwards, any ftp links you click on while surfing will be passed on to NetFinder. Then if you need to cancel a transfer before it's done, the partial download is saved and can be double-clicked anytime in the future to automatically pick up where you left off.
(Version 2.0 of Netfinder is in early beta testing. Although it has rough edges, it promises to make remote and local folders nearly impossible to tell apart. Visit the NetFinder home page if you'd like to live dangerously and try it out.)
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John is a software engineer who works in the corporate R&D group of a Fortune 500 company, focusing on all aspects of communications technology. He has several degrees that claim he knows what he's doing when it comes to computers. After watching co-workers reinstall Windows, search for device drivers, and experience other horrors during the day, he's glad that he comes home to a Mac (compatible) computer. Have any comments, suggestions, or favorite Gadgets? Drop John a line at