Finder’s Quick Actions Complete Mac Tasks in One Click
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If you want to rotate or annotate a photo on your Mac, you don’t need to open Preview or any other image-editing app. Finder’s Quick Actions feature gives you an efficient way to manage such simple tasks in a snap.

Let’s see what you can do with Finder’s preset Quick Actions and how to come up with custom ones yourself.

What Are Quick Actions and How to Use Them

Quick Actions are one of the best new features of macOS Mojave. They’re simple one-click buttons to help you take care of certain common tasks when you select a file or a folder in Finder.

You’ll see Quick Action buttons only if you have enabled the Preview sidebar in Finder. The sidebar appears automatically in the Gallery view, but you might have to enable it manually in other views. That’s easy to do—simply click View > Show Preview.

Now, select any of your files in Finder to see Quick Actions in the sidebar. If you’ve chosen an image file, you’ll see Rotate and Markup below the file preview.

Quick Action buttons for selected Finder item

Click on the first Quick Action (Rotate) to rotate the selected image to the left, right there in Finder.

If you click on Markup, you’ll see a popout preview of the image with the Markup Toolbar from the Preview app at the top. Feel free to make edits to the image from this window and hit the Done toolbar button to save the changes.

Markup Toolbar from Preview in popout generated by Markup Quick Action

You’ll then see a new button—Open with Preview—show up in the same spot. Click on that to open the image in the Preview app if you want to make further edits to the image. Otherwise, hit the Esc key to force the popout box to recede into the background, like a Quick Look preview does.

The Quick Actions that show up in the sidebar vary depending on the type of file you’ve selected. For example, you’ll see a Trim option for certain video files. For images, you’ll also see a Create PDF option—if this is not visible, click on the More button next to Rotate and Markup.

By the way, Quick Actions are also available via the context menu or right-click menu for the Finder item you’ve selected.

How to Create Custom Quick Actions

By default, Finder has just a few Quick Actions, which is not that impressive. What’s great, though, is that you can create so many more. All you need is a little know-how of Automator, the automation app built into macOS.

Learning the basics of Automator is easy with these sample Automator workflows 9 Automator Apps You Can Create in Under 5 Minutes 9 Automator Apps You Can Create in Under 5 Minutes Using Automator on your Mac lets you make quick work of boring tasks. Here are a few simple workflows you can create in minutes. Read More . The basic Quick Action we’re going to create next will also help.

Custom Quick Action: Convert to JPG

If you often convert images to the JPG format to keep the file size low, a “convert to JPG” Quick Action can save you some time. Let’s create that using Automator.

To begin, open the Automator app, select Quick Action as your document or workflow type, and click on the Choose button. (Since Quick Actions aren’t available on pre-Mojave systems, this particular document type also won’t appear.)

Choose document type dialog box in Automator

Now, you’ll see Automator’s standard three-column view. The third column is where you build a custom workflow to trigger a series of actions in a few clicks.

Meanwhile, the second column gives you a library of actions to pick from, and the first divides these actions into logical categories. (Look for the small panel below the first and second columns for a description of the selected action.)

Default three-column view in Automator

To be clear, in our example, we’re going to create a one-click Quick Action workflow to convert a selected Finder image in any format to a JPG image.

Steps to Create the Workflow

Let’s start with the third column—from the Workflow receives current dropdown menu, select image files. Now, use the search box above the second column to look for this action: Change Type of Images. Drag this action to the third column.

Automator then asks you if you also want to add a Copy Finder Items action to preserve a copy of your original image. Click on the Add button to agree to this and proceed.

Next, select the JPEG option from the To Type dropdown menu for your chosen action in the third column. With this tweak, you’re specifying that you want the image type for the input image to change to JPG.

Automator workflow to create Quick Action button to convert images to JPG

Now it’s time to save this workflow—click on File > Save, add a suitable name for the Quick Action, and hit the Save button. You should now see the Quick Action listed under the More menu for Quick Actions in Finder.

To see if it works, select a PNG image in Finder and click on the Convert to JPG Quick Action. The image file should instantly turn into a JPG file and a copy of the original PNG file should appear on your desktop.

Convert to JPG custom Quick Action in Finder

What Can You Create Quick Actions For?

Now that you know how to create custom Quick Actions, which ones will come in handy? We have a few ideas for you. You can create Quick Actions to:

  • Resize images to standard sizes.
  • Create archives.
  • Watermark documents.
  • Switch to customized folder views.
  • Split PDFs.
  • Add photos to specific albums.
  • Sort files differently.

Third-party apps also bring their own set of Quick Actions to the mix, so keep an eye out for those. You can toggle the visibility of Quick Actions from System Preferences > Extensions > Finder.

Toggle visibility of Quick Actions in Finder from System Preferences on macOS

There’s a Lot More to Explore in Finder

From Quick Actions and Quick Look, to tags and smart folders, Finder has many useful bits and pieces tucked away in every corner. You’ll discover quite a few of them in the Finder tips we’ve shared before.

Why not learn about Finder shortcuts next? Or how about picking up a few search tricks to locate recently used files on your Mac?

Remember, MakeUseOf can also help with troubleshooting. For instance, here’s how to restore items that have disappeared from your Mac Something Disappeared From Your Mac? How to Restore 7 Common Items Something Disappeared From Your Mac? How to Restore 7 Common Items Can't find the Dock, or discovered a missing menu on your Mac? Here's how to restore hidden elements in macOS. Read More .

Explore more about: Computer Automation, Mac Tips, Mac Tricks, OS X Finder, Task Automation.

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