Renaming files can often be a huge pain in the butt. In a previous post, I showed you how to rename finder items using the included Mac software, Automator. Michael Preston wanted to take it a step further and asked if it was possible to create a folder when files were added they could automatically be renamed, possibly even with a sequence number that the user could control. Ask, and you shall receive! Here’s the walkthrough of how to properly setup Automator renaming through a folder action.
Note (again): This method is for Macs only–sorry PC/Windows gang!
How to Setup Automator Renaming
1. Open Automator from the Applications folder and choose File>New and then choose ‘Folder Action’.
2. At the top of the Automator window, you’ll see: ‘Folder Action receives files and folders added to…’ with a dropdown menu. Choose ‘Other…’ from that menu and then create a new folder naming it something like ‘Watched Renaming Folder’ and choose that folder.
3. From the left-hand column under ‘Actions’ select ‘Files & Folders’ from under the ‘Library’ section and look for ‘Rename Finder Items’ and drag it to the right area.
4. From the first dropdown menu in the renaming pod, you can choose what type of renaming you’d like initially. As you’ll see in a moment, this step isn’t THAT important as you’ll be able to change this on the fly for each set of renaming. My recommendation: set your renaming template to whatever you use most often.
5. Here’s the little hidden trick that makes this whole thing come together: at the bottom of the pod, select ‘Options’ and check the box that says ‘Show this action when the workflow runs’. Now, every time you drop files into this folder, a dialog will appear allowing you to customize the renaming settings each time you do it. This is an optional step–if you rename items the same every time, leave this unchecked. Additionally, if you have only 2 or 3 renaming conventions you use regularly, you could make 2 or 3 different folders all with different automatic renaming conventions built in.
6. Choose File>Save… and name your folder action accordingly. Now, whenever you drop files into that folder, the renaming dialog should appear (if you checked the appropriate box) and you can now easily rename many files all at once.
Note: I would not recommend exporting directly to this folder say from Lightroom or something like that. Files slowly being added into this watched folder confuses it and makes lots of mistakes.
DISCLAIMER: I have been very successful doing all of this on my MacBook Pro Retina OS 10.8.5, however, I CANNOT get it to work properly on my last generation iMac OS 10.8.5… I’m doing as much testing as I can to try to figure why it won’t work on the iMac, but keep me posted in the comments of your success/non success.