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It seems that a rather large group of Mac users considers Finder to be a product that contains a number of conceptual failures and oversimplifications.

It is however not clear whether Finder can be completely replaced with other application.

Is it possible to remove it from the OS, including thing like file open dialogs etc?

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I would consider editing out the opinion from your question - you don't need anyone else's whining about finder to make a good, objective question here. Just state what you find limiting and ask a technical question. –  bmike Aug 1 '11 at 13:12
    
I believe this was first allowed in Snow Leopard. There's a guide to replacing Finder with Path Finder here: cocoatech.com/faqs#3 –  Paul Eccles Aug 1 '11 at 14:48
    
I would not replace it. I recommend you enhancing it by using Total Finder. –  Overbryd Aug 1 '11 at 17:24
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2 Answers

There's an Apple-documented general overview of the technologies that specifically support kiosk on OS X —

Technical Note TN2062: Creating Kiosks

— with a section Replacing the Finder.

… Is it possible to remove it from the OS,

I recommend not attempting to remove Finder.

including thing like file open dialogs etc? …

Of possible interest, in Apple Support Communities:

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I would perhaps say the majority of people shouldn't attempt this surgery, but why not assume some can safely by knowing what they try may break things badly. Great tech note and caution, too. –  bmike Aug 1 '11 at 13:16
    
I echo bmike's advice about the risks that may be associated with DIY approaches. Presumably less risky to use a third party purpose-built solution (I see at least one related to the right) but be prepared to test thoroughly especially if using a recently released version of the OS. –  Graham Perrin Aug 1 '11 at 13:39
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It is quite easy to remove finder. Just disable the launchd job (making sure to start your replacement or know how to ssh into the mac to launch finder by hand / enable the launchd job)

You will break your mac software if you don't know what you are doing.

It's really as simple as throwing the following two lines inside the <dict> </dict> part of /System/Library/Launch\ Agents/com.apple.finder.plist

<key>Disabled</key>
<true/>

The OS supplies many API - so the file open dialog really isn't finder but a lower level construct. Finder calls those API like any other program, it's just that Finder is expected by the designers to be running all the time.

If you are looking to rip out all API that finder calls or that call finder, the job would be Herculean (Sisyphean if you fail to pull it off).

Most people unhappy with finder run something like PathFinder.

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I'm so happy when people fix and make my answers better. Thanks @CajunLuke for this and others! –  bmike Aug 1 '11 at 15:37
    
You're quite welcome. Anytime. :) –  CajunLuke Aug 1 '11 at 17:21
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The launchd item could also be disabled with launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.Finder.plist. –  Lauri Ranta Aug 1 '11 at 21:01
    
@Lri - I was wondering if that command temporarily unloads it - I seem to recall it editing the plist on 10.5 and no longer on 10.7 - unsure if all versions would have this be permanent - good idea either way. –  bmike Aug 1 '11 at 21:46
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man launchctl in 10.6.8: **-w** Overrides the Disabled key and sets it to false. In previous versions, this option would modify the configuration file. Now the state of the Disabled key is stored elsewhere on-disk. –  Lauri Ranta Aug 2 '11 at 1:22
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