Actions For Mac

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Automator: Folder Actions

Introduced in macOS 8.5 (way back before MacOS X and the new macOS series) the Folder Actions automation architecture has delivered the functionality of automatically processing items added to designated Finder folders. This unique macOS feature is integrated into Automator as a workflow template:

1 The Folder Action workflow window. Folder Actions are saved as workflow files, instead of applets, and are executed by the system “FolderActionsDispatcher” background process.

2 Since a Folder Action is “attached” to a folder in the Finder, its input is files and/or folders added to the target folder.

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3 The “attached folder” is selected from the popup menu, which summons a file/folder chooser dialog.

4 The workflow assembly pane where the workflow is assembled by adding actions from the Automator Library in the sequence in which they are to be exectued.

Example: Auto-Photos Import via AirPort

Here’s an example of combining the use of an Automator Folder Action workflow with an AppleScript “Watcher“ applet to create an autonomous AirDrop image repository whose content is added to by others through a non-attended import process triggered when users AirDrop images to the unmanned host computer.

The Folder Action

The first step is to create an Automator Folder Action workflow that will import the images placed into an “attached folder” in the Finder, into the Photos application.

DOWNLOAD the completed Folder Action workflow file.

1 The Folder Action workflow window. Folder Actions are saved as workflow files, instead of applets, and are executed by the system “FolderActionsDispatcher” background process.

2 The “attached folder” is the set to be the user’s Downloads folder in the Home directory.

3 The Pause action is added to give the items added to the attached folder, enough time to complete the copy process before beginning their processing by the other actions in the workflow. The delay value is indicated in seconds. Set this value to a higher value if the added files are larger and copied over a network or by AirDrop. Files added locally on the computer, require little or no delay.

4 The Filter Finder Items action is used to ensure that only image files are passed to the next action for import into Photos. NOTE: since Photos can store multiple media types, such as videos and images, you can adjust the filtering parameters of this action to reflect the type of import data you want the workflow to support.

5 Since Automator’s built-in Import Files into Photos action remains broken in the latest version of macOS, a Run AppleScript action is used instead, containing a simple AppleScript script (see below) that imports the passed image files into the top-level of the Photos library.

6 Since Photos stores a copy on imported data, the Move Finder Items to Trash action is used to remove the original image files from the Downloads folder, and place them into the trash.

on run {input, parameters} tell application id 'com.apple.photos' try if input is not {} then import input with skip check duplicates end if on error errorMessage display alert 'IMPORT ERROR' message errorMessage end try end tell return inputend run
Import Images into Photos
01on run {input, parameters}
02tell applicationid'com.apple.photos'
03try
04if input is not {} then
05importinputwithskip check duplicates
06end if
07on errorerrorMessage
08display alert'IMPORT ERROR'messageerrorMessage
09end try
10end tell
11returninput
12end run

To save and install the Folder Actions workflow, type Command-S (⌘S) or choose “Save…” from the File menu in Automator. Enter a name for the workflow in the forthcoming naming sheet. Click the sheet’s “Save” button and the workflow will be installed in the following directory and the Folder Actions server will be activated.

Home > Library > Workflows > Applications > Folder Actions

To edit the workflow file, choose Open… from the File menu in Automator to summon a file chooser dialog:

1 The file chooser dialog.

2 Press the Options button to toggle the display of the Type popup menu 3

3 Select “Folder Action” from the workflow Type popup menu to reveal the contents of the system Folder Actions folder 4 in the dialog.

4 The Folder Actions folder within the system Workflows folder.

5 Select the workflow in the Folder Actions folder.

6 Press the Open button to edit the workflow in Automator.

Automation Security

Now that you’ve created and installed the Folder Action, test it by dragging an image file into the Downloads folder. Starting with macOS Mojave, workflows containing Apple Event scripts (AppleScript/JavaScript) must receive a security approval by the user the first time the hosting workflow is executed. This approval is only required once and there will be no security prompt for subsequent runs of the Folder Action workflow.

In this example, the script is executed by the FolderActionsDispatcher background system application, which will be reflected in the security approval dialog that appears after you’ve triggered the execution of the workflow by adding an image file to the “attached” Downloads folder:

Once approved by the user, the FolderActionsDispatcher application will be added to the Automation access list in the Privacy & Security system preference pane:

NOTE: if you later edit the Folder Action workflow, you may be prompted again for a security approval. See the section on Automation Security for more information.

Having the ability to manage your Mac files automatically is crucial if you want your computer to run efficiently. By adding actions to Mac files, you can greatly enhance your workplace performance and improve productivity. Here is how you can add automated actions in order to manage Mac Files.

Contents

  • 2 Your Automated Best Friend
  • 4 Conclusion

iCloud and Folders

The best option would be to use iCloud. This has the added benefit of keeping your files safe and sound because it is in the ‘’cloud’’. You can always sign in to check your files if you have your Apple ID with you.

Using folders is another great way to organize your data on a Mac. It would be a good habit to create as many folders as you need. You can store your folders in the Documents folder on your Mac computer or device.

This can be either the local hardware documents or the iCloud documents. Make sure that these folders are labeled properly in order to avoid confusion.

Your Automated Best Friend

There is an Automator function on Mac that will help create and organize files automatically. Essentially the app is used to run a script that runs other scripts that creates folders and accepts input from you based on what you want to do with these folders.

By creating your own workflows you’ll save a lot of time and become far more efficient in your workplace. You could rename hundreds of files or convert files into a different format automatically and it is far better to do it this way than manually. How do we do this?

Otto Method

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It’s called Automator and it is an app that is found on your Mac and the icon is called Otto and he comes in the shape of a robot holding a long tube. To find it got Spotlight in the top right corner and then type in the word Otto. Automator should then appear. Open it by giving it double-click on the app icon. You then direct the app to manipulate and change the files by rewriting the script.

How To Create Your Own Mac Finder Quick Actions

  • Your first step is to decide what type of workflow you want to do: it could be a plug-in, an application, image capture, calendar-based actions, or some other automated service.
  • After you’ve decided what you want to do, then press Choose.

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Manual Method

Now for something practical. This is an example of the old and impractical manual method. If for instance you would like to change the format of your photos from jpeg to png then here is what you should do.

  • Double-click on an image. This will open up the Preview menu.
  • Click on X spot and you’ll be presented with a tab that will convert your photos – one at a time, every time.

Automator Method

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For the Automator option, you should do the following.

  • From the drop-down menu choose Photos.
  • Then, choose Change Type of Images.
  • The next step is to drag these words from the left side of the screen over to the right.
  • A pop-up screen will appear – press the button in the bottom right-hand corner which is labeled Add.
  • Notify the app what you want to do.

In this instance, you want to convert the image so check to make sure that the action you want to take has been done.

  • Next, go to File Folder in order to choose which folders you want to convert.
  • Select Get Selected Finder Items. This will allow the app to select which items should be converted.
  • Select Run.

If nothing happens then this means the workflow has stopped because you didn’t choose your items correctly.

  • Select Get Folder Contents.
  • The key is to highlight the correct folder before your press Run. This will help you to avoid the workflow crashing. After the action is completed it will tell you how long the action took to complete.

Conclusion

By doing it this way, you should save a lot of time. Automator is there to help you organize your Mac files, and it’s well worth your time to learn how it works. We recommend trying it out on your own time before doing it at your workplace. It’s an amazing tool to have at your disposal, but take care to avoid making errors on your work computer.

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