HOW TO |put folder ac­tions to good use

Mac Format - - IMPROVE -

Au­to­mat­i­cally print se­lect doc­u­ments

Each of us is aware of the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of print­ing, but for some doc­u­ments, hav­ing a hard copy is a boon – even manda­tory in some cir­cum­stances. At­tach a Folder Ac­tion con­tain­ing the Print Fin­der Items ac­tion to the folder where you store doc­u­ments of this sort – per­haps the Web Re­ceipts folder that OS X cre­ates (in your Doc­u­ments folder) when you choose Save PDF to Web Re­ceipts Folder in a print dialog, or wher­ever you keep pur­chase or­ders if you run a busi­ness. All doc­u­ments added to the folder will be sent to the printer you spec­ify here. Re­mem­ber, you can cre­ate printer pools in Sys­tem Pref­er­ences pane: ç- click those to pool to­gether, click Cre­ate Printer Pool, then pick that pool in the ac­tion to send things to the first avail­able printer.

Re­name scanned files in a pa­per­less of­fice

If, how­ever, you’re try­ing to go pa­per­less, the Folder Ac­tion shown above will re­name any files you add to a folder to use a com­mon base name (in our case ‘Re­ceipt’, though it can be what­ever you want) fol­lowed by a date and time stamp based on when the file was cre­ated. Note how you can add mul­ti­ple in­stances of the same ac­tion, each with dif­fer­ent set­tings, to con­tinue act­ing on a file.

Stream­line the send­ing of in­voices

In this ex­am­ple, ev­ery time a file is added to a folder called In­voices, the New Mail Mes­sage ac­tion cre­ates a new, part­ly­writ­ten email (for you to fill in the blanks) and at­taches the file to it. This works whether you man­u­ally drop a file into the folder in Fin­der, or ex­port a PDF from the print dialog in Num­bers, say, or an online ser­vice. By cre­at­ing sub­fold­ers for reg­u­lar clients, you can cre­ate sep­a­rate Folder Ac­tions that fill out the mes­sage’s re­cip­i­ent.

Com­press and upload files

You can ex­tend Au­toma­tor’s power with ac­tions from third-party de­vel­op­ers. For this ex­am­ple we’ve used Peter Dekkers’s Upload to FTP ac­tion (free, When we add a group of files to our des­ig­nated folder, the Cre­ate Archive ac­tion com­presses them into a Zip file, and the Upload to FTP ac­tion puts the Zip on your server. You could op­tion­ally use Re­name Fin­der Items to add a time stamp to the file.

Du­pli­cate to another disk

We’ve al­most cer­tainly brow­beaten you into at least back­ing up your Mac us­ing Time Ma­chine (see MF288), which is good, but with some projects – a univer­sity dis­ser­ta­tion or a big pro­ject at work, say – you might want the belt-and-braces re­as­sur­ance of man­u­ally copy­ing files to an ex­ter­nal flash drive or hard drive as well. A Folder Ac­tion work­flow con­tain­ing only the Copy Fin­der Items ac­tion does just that for you. Leav­ing the ac­tion’s ‘Re­plac­ing ex­ist­ing files’ op­tion unchecked will mean a messy pro­lif­er­a­tion of du­pli­cates on the ex­ter­nal drive, thought it does give you a crude ver­sion­ing sys­tem.

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