I’ve written several articles on Mac automation software, including Automator and Apple‘s smart technology folders and albums. Much of our purpose with computers is to get work done faster and more efficiently. To this end, there are several paid third-party automation apps on the market, including Hazel and QuicKeys 4.0, that require no knowledge or use of automation code, as with AppleScript.
Well, finally, there’s a free option that might make a useful introduction to bulk file and folder automation; it’s called FileSorter—a free download in the Mac App Store.
Let me say upfront, FileSorter is not the best app for what it does. It’s not even close. But it’s a useful introduction to folder actions if you’ve never used a similar automator program before. FileSorter requires no knowledge of automation code. It simply sorts files based on rules and actions you assign. It works fairly well, but as a version 1.0.2, it has many limitations I will point out later.
Setting FileSorter Rules
After downloading FileSorter, launch it, and in the welcome window click on “Create a new rule.”
There are three parts to creating rules and actions for moving, copying, or removing files. Here’s a practical rule you might find useful:
This FileSorter rule will move PNG files on your desktop to a designated folder. This rule can be used for any type of files that normally gets placed on your desktop, and that’s why you would want to have a quick way to move them.
First click on the green + button in the menu bar of FileSorter. Click on the “Filename” and then on the drop-down button, select “Extension.” Next, click on the second drop-down button and select “is.” In the final text box type “PNG” or any file extension, e.g. doc, pages, JPG, pdf, that you want to quickly move. Before moving to the next part, assign a name to this action.
The rule we’ve set so far means that FileSorter will only act on files ending in the extension you specify. Next, we need to create a folder in the Finder to move selected files to when activated upon by FileSorter. So for example, you might move all the png files to a PNG folder inside the Pictures Folder of your Mac. Since for some files, FileSorter does not allow you to create a new folder inside its application, you need to create one before we add the action in the next step.
Next, click on the “Add Action” button, and in the drop-down menu select “Move,” or Copy—whichever you prefer.
Now, click on the Edit button and select “Choose,” and then select the PNG folder you created for this action.
Now, to test it out, simply select PNG files on your desktop or anywhere in the Finder, and drag and drop them on top of the FileSorter icon in your Dock.
FileSorter will automatically move your selected files to your designated folder.
That’s the basic rule and action set up for FileSorter. This works for other type of files. For example, you can set up rules and actions to move items in your Download folder to various different folders in your Finder. This is a great way to sort say all those PDF and JPG files that get saved to your Downloads folder.
Similar Folder actions can be created using Automator as well. But again, since FileSorter is free, and if you have no experience with this type of automation you might want to download it and give it a try.
In FileSorter‘s Preferences, you might to want to click the “Use Growl Notifications” which will inform you that FileSorter has successfully run your rules and actions. See more about Growl here.
Another practical rule may be for quickly moving old files to the trash or an external drive.
In this example, you might want to move all your Word doc files that were created last year to the trash.
When you click on the Edit button, you can select to move the selected files to the Trash or just Delete them all together.
The similar rule could be used for moving or deleting files in a folder that are over a certain file size.
Finally, FileSorter allows you to add Automator workflows as an action. This is useful for including complex actions that FileSorter can’t perform by itself. To add Automator actions, select “Open” as an action, click the Edit button and add the Automator application you want to run.
There are some big limitations with FileSorter, especially when compared to a paid app called Hazel, which has been around for quite a while and automates rules and actions without you having to manually select specified files and move them on an icon in the Dock.
The biggest limitation to FileSorter is that if you include two or more rules that are similar to one another, FileSorter will run them both. So say you make two different rules to act on PNG files. Both of your actions will run whether you want them to or not. Also, another limitation to the program is that Creation and Modification Date rules are limited to specific days. It would be better if it included parameters like, “in the last ___days”, for example.
But again, if this type of Mac automation is new to you, FileSorter might well be worth downloading and trying out.
Let us know what you think about FileSorter and other similar Mac automation programs you use. Also, check out my free MUO PDF, The Awesome Automation Guide for Mac OS X.