Create a Folder Action Using Automator

by Bakari Chavanu Nov 11, 2009

It's really too bad that Automator is probably one of the most underused of Apple's applications. Because it is very useful for non-developers who don't know a bit of AppleScript or Objective-C code. 

The newest version of Automator in Snow Leopard makes it a little easier to create automated workflows. In this video tutorial, I show you how to create a folder action: when you drop a file into a specified folder, it will do something to that file. In this case, our folder action will be used to scale image files dropped into it. But you’re not limited to this idea. You might create a folder action that re-names files or one that copies files to another specified folder.

I've written other articles (e.g. Renaming Files and Folders the Automator Way) for creating automated workflows, but this is my first tutorial using the latest version of the application.

Write any questions or suggestions you have for creating workflows in the comment section below.

 

Comments

  • I keep meaning to learn automator, but first I need to think of something I want automated.  So far, I haven’t thought of anything.

    Howard Brazee had this to say on Nov 12, 2009 Posts: 54
  • Well, if you find yourself regularly doing a task or process that could be automated, Automator is the place to look. It’s limited in its abilities, but it’s a place to start. Now I just wish the thing could write and edit articles for me.

    Bakari Chavanu had this to say on Nov 12, 2009 Posts: 47
  • What I’d like to do is use automator to add a folder action to any new folder created inside the target folder.

    Is that possible?

    Doug1 had this to say on Mar 31, 2010 Posts: 1
  • Doug1, it doesn’t sound like you can do this. But maybe if you give me more specifics about what type of folder action you would like attached to each new folder, maybe I can see if there’s a work around. Feel free to contact me directly. bakari at AppleMatters.com

    Bakari Chavanu had this to say on Mar 31, 2010 Posts: 47
  • I’d like to print a document once per week.  This would use each color, and is intended to keep my ink from drying out.

    Should I use Automator for that, or is there a simpler way?

    Howard Brazee had this to say on Mar 31, 2010 Posts: 54
  • Yep, sounds like you can do this. Create an iCal workflow that runs (as an alarm) every week. Here’s a screenshot: http://screencast.com/t/N2ZlNDE3

    Bakari Chavanu had this to say on Mar 31, 2010 Posts: 47
  • I can’t seem to make folder actions work for me.  I’m trying to set up an action to notify me (open, print, and close) when files are placed in a certain server folder.  The action works perfectly, but only if I first open it in automator, select the desired folder, and close it.  If I don’t do that, it won’t work.  Is it the fact that that its on a server?

    I also tried making an application that ran the workflow at startup (I was hoping this would set the folder path for me) but alas, it didn’t help..  Any Ideas?

    Matt had this to say on Jun 09, 2010 Posts: 2
  • Matt, I’m not sure why that’s happening.The fact that it’s on a server may well be the problem. Create the folder action again using a folder on your desktop, instead of the server, to see if that makes a difference.

    You might also join this list-serve and ask the question: Automator listserv <automator-users@lists.apple.com>

    Bakari Chavanu had this to say on Jun 09, 2010 Posts: 47
  • Thanks, Will do.

    Matt had this to say on Jun 09, 2010 Posts: 2
  • Well, if you find yourself regularly doing a task or process that could be automated, Automator is the place to look. It’s limited in its abilities, but it’s a place to start. Now I just wish the thing could write and edit articles for me about perfume

    Martin Erikk had this to say on Dec 22, 2010 Posts: 1
  • Is it possible to create a Folder action with automator that trashes any file or folder that has been added to a given folder?
    Many thanks for help.

    Gralaad had this to say on Dec 27, 2010 Posts: 1
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