Relatively new to the Mac world, I still find the 'Finder' not really that user friendly.
What free alternatives to Finder exist?
*I mean really file browsers, not application launchers like Quicksilver, Launchy etc..
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muCommander is a free Finder alternative, if that type of application suites you. (Dual-pane Norton Commander like).
I don't know the good free alternatives, but PathFinder is the best file manager I have ever used, and probably one of the best desktop apps I've ever used. The features I use most
Most importantly, it's not clunky (relatively) and is very reliable. It was worth every cent I paid for it.
Xfolders and MuCommander are free.
Another free alternative is xtrafinder http://www.trankynam.com/xtrafinder/
Moroshka file manager (free) - in beta, however, but it may suit your needs:
I have not yet used it, so offered under advisement (no reflection on product, though!)
Finder uses spaces and sub-spaces to organize our information. An alternative or a complementarity would be the use of TIME to organize our information. Here is a video presentation : hipSpace
Edit: ok, I am the developer of hipSpace, but my app really answers to that question. Just "Save as…" your files in the "hipSpace" folder, that all ! When there are too much files in the space, Release them. It will be easy to retrieve them using the Time navigation (rather than the space navigation of the Finder).