How to make ForkLift 3 the default file viewer

A few people have asked me whether you can make ForkLift 3 the default application for file management tasks. You can, but the behavior can be inconsistent between different Macs. Changing this setting will cause applications that have a Reveal in Finder or Open in Finder command to redirect those actions to ForkLift. Commands from applications like Alfred and LaunchBar that display results in a Finder window appear in ForkLift instead.

How to make ForkLift 3 the default file viewer

This works for the most part but the behavior isn’t always consistent. Some applications don’t use the operating system default setting and they will continue to do their own thing.

ForkLift’s own Reveal in Finder command becomes redundant after you make this change. A new ForkLift tab appears instead of a Finder window.

Give it a try. If the results aren’t to your liking the change is easy to revert.

To make ForkLift the default file manager

  1. Start Terminal
  2. Paste in the command:
    defaults write -g NSFileViewer -string com.binarynights.ForkLift-3

You’ll need to log out or reboot for the change to take effect.

To restore Finder as the default file manager

Removing the global default will make Finder the default file manager again.

  1. Start Terminal
  2. Paste in the command:
    defaults delete -g NSFileViewer

Log out and log in or reboot again.

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7 Responses

  1. James says:

    This doesn’t seem to work. iMac 2015. Any ideas?

    • John Scullen says:

      You’ve probably already tried these, but if not:

      1. Log out or restart your Mac. The change doesn’t take effect until this is done.
      2. Check for updates to make sure you are running the latest version of ForkLift. This is one feature that seemed a bit buggy with the initial release. Many people found it worked more consistently after applying updates.

      Are you using macOS Sierra or El Capitan?

  2. Eric says:

    Note that if you have the ForkLift Setapp version, the above command to set it as default needs to change to:

    defaults write -g NSFileViewer -string com.binarynights.forklift-setapp

  3. Yuriy says:

    Does not work! Mac OS Sierra 10.12.5 (16F73). Fork Lift 3.0.6. Tried both options, doesn’t work.
    And what is Setapp version?

    • John Scullen says:

      Hi Yuriy

      Sorry to hear it isn’t working for you. The behavior seems a bit inconsistent between Macs. It’s working OK for me with macOS 10.12.6 and ForkLift 3.0.6 (106).

      Setapp from MacPaw is a new service where you can access a collection of quality applications (including ForkLift) for a monthly subscription fee. It’s a great idea, but I’ve already bought many of the apps on offer.

  4. Yuriy says:

    Thank you for explaining what is Setapp.

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