Automating Repetitive Windows Task with Folder Actions

By . Filed in Tools

Here’s the situation: you got back from an awesome vacation and want to organize your vacation photos but you have literally hundreds of photos to go through, renaming them, converting or compressing them and more. What if we told you that you don’t have to do everything single task on one file at a time.

On the Mac OS, there are built-in features to automate Folder Actions to help save time and reduce repetitive tasks. If you work on Windows, you can do the same with this tool called Folder Actions. Best of all, you can even carry out user-defined actions. Here is a walkthrough of the features of Folder Actions.

Getting Started

You can get started by downloading the software here. Don’t worry about how simple the site looks. The lack of a complicated design doesn’t diminish the purpose the site is there to serve.

Once you are done installing it, open Folder Actions and look for the + icon on the top left. Click on it to bring up a window where you can browse for the folder that you wish to use Folder Actions on.

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Available Preset Actions

Once you have located your folder of files, here are some of the things you can do to the batch of files.

Rename Files: Renames files that are added into the folder. There is no batch rename support for now.

Convert Image Files: All your images can be converted to a different image format such as jpg, png, tif, gif and bmp with customized quality.

Convert Video Files: As for videos, conversions into MP4 iPhone, MP4 iPod, MP4 Blackberry, MP4 PSP, 3GP Mobile, FLV, AVI and MPEG are supported.

Convert Audio Files: You can convert your audio or video files into an audio format like mp3, wav and etc.

Compress or Decompress Files: Easily compress files into your chosen compress formats and automatically decompress any added compressed files in the folder. File formats supported for compression are .zip, .7z, .gzip, .tar. File formats supported for decompression are .zip, .7z, .rar, .arj.

User-Defined Actions

Apart from these preset actions you can enable more features through .bat files, or third-party scripts. For instance, here is an example where you can use an external script called Ghostscript to convert JPG files to PDF.

Advantages & Limitations

The good news is the tool is light on resources, even when converting/processing images or videos in the background. The software also has a very simple layout, and doesn’t require an Internet connection to work.

However, the number of things this tool can run is rather limited. Although you can solve that with the user-defined actions, not everyone is comfortable running .bat format files and scripts – a user-friendly UI would be better. Another thing is that while you can run two actions on the same folder (using the sub-folder feature), you will be prompted with an error message "File is in use" every time.

Conclusion

As you can see, users who have to do a lot of repetitive tasks on their laptop may find use for Folder Actions even though they will have to first find the script for that action. But don’t let that stop you from trying out the tool. Let us know how you like or dislike the app in the comments section.

Author:

Nels Dzyre is a tech enthusiast from the age of dial-ups, an Android follower since we had Cupcake, and a gamer.

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