How can I use Automator to auto-encode videos on my Mac?

Joe Gnemmi July 25, 2011

I’ve been trying to use Automator to auto-encode video files, but when I try to encode an AVI, I get the following error message:

“avconvert: source file not found for source file (file pathway). avconvert failed to create an export session. Check setup.”

The only option is “cancel”. When I hit cancel, Automator shows all checkmarks. What’s going on here?

OSX Lion, Perian plugin installed

  1. Angus Gibbins
    September 6, 2011 at 9:47 am

    ^^ Nope, having the same problem in 10.7.1 :(

  2. Frank
    August 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    avconvert is a new cli tool in Lion. And it's bugged at the moment. Reportedly patched in 10.7.1

  3. Mike
    July 28, 2011 at 12:29 am

    I don't know "avconvert" but my first guess would be that you are calling a command line encoder via Automator. Looking at the error maybe you should check the path Automator is forwarding to the encoding process.

    Maybe it passes on "Finder paths" with spaces in it which the command line cannot handle. I rarely use Automator but there is some option which can show you the results of each individual action ~ this is where I would start.

  4. Anonymous
    July 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    1) Install xvid, divx, and wmv codecs.
    Divx Codec

    Xvid Codec


    2) automator actions for compressing and importing into iTunes

    3) Once installed you will have a directory on your desktop called “QuickTime
    Compression Workflow resources”. In this folder you will find a sample automator
    workflow called “Convert videos and add to iTunes”. Open this workflow in

    4) Delete the first step of the workflow which is “Ask for Finder Items”.
    Instead of being prompted for which items to convert, we want to setup a folder
    action that will automatically convert the files dropped in our folder.

    5) Add a new first step to the workflow called “Get Selected Finder Items”.
    This action can be found under the “Finder” application.

    6) Under the “Compress QuickTime Using Most Recent Settings” step change
    “Choose directory for converted files” to the desktop (or any other temporary
    folder you want to use).

    7) Create a new folder on your desktop. This will be your drop folder, so
    call it something relevant. I called mine “Convert to AppleTV”.

    8 ) Back in automator, click on file and choose “Save as plug-in”, choose
    “Folder Actions” from the “plug-in for” drop down. Give the plug-in the same
    name as your folder. Select your newly created folder for the “Attached to
    folder” option. Click save.

    9) Since the script will convert whatever file you drop in your conversion
    folder using the last settings you used in QuickTime you’ll need to launch
    QuickTime with a test file and then choose “Export” from the file menu. Assuming
    you have the most recent version of QuickTime Pro you should have an option
    “Export Movie to Apple TV”.

    10) Now just close out of everything and drop your files into your
    new folder and watch as they are converted and imported to iTunes. It works
    great to leave your Mac on and then drop a bunch of files in the folder before
    you go to bed. When you get to your PC in the morning everything should be all
    ready to go.