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sort filesWhen it comes to keeping files and folders sorted and organized in your Mac, there are several default and third-party apps that can do the often tedious job for you. Apple’s Mac Automator 10 Automator Apps You Can Create in Under 5 Minutes [Mac] 10 Automator Apps You Can Create in Under 5 Minutes [Mac] Read More has a great collection of macros for performing all kinds of sorting actions, but if you would rather not be bothered with the learning curve to figure it out (it’s really not that difficult), you might want to try out Folder Tidy ($2.99/40% off for limited time.)

If you’re not a neat freak like myself, you might – for example – have lots of files and folders that you just throw on Desktop and never get around to cleaning it up. Folder Tidy will sort all those files on your Desktop and sort them for you in designated subfolders. But there are a few rule options you might want to consider first.

How It Works

While writing this article, I have accumulated lots of screenshot files on my desktop (see image below.) There’s also a webloc (webpage file) file amongst them as well.

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My copy of Folder Tidy is setup to sort those Desktop files into designated subfolders, and after I click the Tidy button, you can see (below) how the files got sorted into subfolders. Folder Tidy even brands its work with an image background in that folder which you can see when the folder is open in Icon view.

organize files

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Now because I use a similar more advanced folder automation program called Hazel, my desktop gets automatically cleaned up throughout the day. If for example I left the screenshot files on my desktop for more than three hours, Hazel will move them to a designated Junk folder. If I drop a PDF file on my desktop, Hazel will move it to a designated PDF folder in Dropbox account. Hazel does, however, require learning a few complex rules to set it up.

But if your Desktop or Downloads folder looks like the screenshot below, Folder Tidy will come handy, and it does not require you to create complex macros to get set up. Folder Tidy sorts all types of files (e.g., pictures, music, text, and movie files) into designated subfolders.

organize files

Setting Up Folder Tidy

When you launch Folder Tidy, it presents a setup window. You can choose any folder (options for the Desktop and Downloads are set by default) on your Desktop to sort. And in Step 2 you choose where you want Folder Tidy to move and sort those files into subfolders.

organize files

In my test, the Sorted Files folder cannot be in the same folder which is being cleaned up. (That might be a bug.) So if you’re cleaning up your Desktop folder, you will want to create a Sorted Files folder in say your Documents or Downloads folder. Whereas Hazel will act upon any number of folders, Folder Tidy only works with one folder at a time. This is okay if your cleanup needs are not that great.

Folder Tidy Preferences

Now before you click the Tidy button which causes Folder Tidy to do its thing, you should get familiar with its Preferences options. Under Rules you can disable any type of files you don’t want Folder Tidy to move. Notice also you can add any type of files not listed.

organize files on mac

Under “Ignore,” you can of course tell Folder Tidy not to move designated files and folders. Just click the + button to add the files to this section. But notice, the rule is only for particular types of files, not file types. So you can’t tell it to ignore let’s say, PNG files. You have to manually add the files you don’t want moved.

organize files on mac

Instead of using the + button however, you can simply select, and drag and drop files in the Ignore window, and those files will not be moved in the Tidy process.

organize files on mac

Folder Tidy also includes a few other options for hiding application windows before running the clean up process, and it can even tidy up the inside of subfolders.

sort files

Best of all, Folder Tidy includes an “Undo Tidy” button that you can enable just in case things don’t go as planned. However, once you quit the application, you can’t use the Undo button.

Folder Tidy is not as advanced as say Hazel or Keyboard Maestro, but if you have limited needs and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, this file sorting application should suffice.

Let us know what you think of Folder Tidy, and if it wets your curiosity about other Mac automation programs and hacks, check out these articles:

  1. Mel Green
    July 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I wonder if there's a way to implement this on my end-users at work. I support around 35 Mac users who are awful at keeping their desktops clean. Would it work with network shares?

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm

      Hmmm, Mel, I'n not sure. Write the developers and find out. Also, you might check out Hazel for that type of automation as well.

  2. Christine Satchell
    July 26, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Its like a robot vacum cleaner for your desktop! love it.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 28, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      Yep, that's a good analogy for it. Wish I had thought of that. Thanks.

  3. Laga Mahesa
    July 25, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Cheers. There's a whole host of tools to boost user friendliness on OSX but not that many on Windows that I've found. DropIt is the closest equivalent to this that I've found.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm

      Lega, thanks for letting us know about DropIt.

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