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Automatically rename, convert or compress your files with Folder Actions

29 July 2013, Mike Williams

File management is generally a tedious business which requires plenty of time and effort. To convert a file between formats, say, you might have to launch a program, select an action, choose files, set parameters and more: nothing difficult, but still a hassle.

Folder Actions is a free-for-personal-use tool which can help, allowing you to run many common tasks simply by dragging and dropping your target files onto a folder.

To make this happen you must first use the program to create a folder, before then choosing the action you’d like it to carry out. Supported actions include Show a new file alert, Copy, Move, Rename, Convert image, Convert audio file, Convert video file, Compress files to (or extract them from) archives, or User defined action, which essentially means run a batch file to process your chosen files.

While this sounds comprehensive, on closer inspection there’s not always a great deal of depth here. When converting images, for instance, File Actions can import just JPG, BMP, TIF, GIF and PNG files, while the archiving side can only compress files to ZIP, 7Z, GZIP and TAR.

Folder Actions can automatically convert images, audio or video files for you

Still, the options provided will probably be enough for most purposes, and there are one or two surprising extras. If you assign a folder the “Convert image files” options, for instance, and select GIF as the destination format, you also have the option to choose the number of colours in the final GIF file, as well as rotate it by 90 or 180 degrees.

Once this setup process is done, you’ll have an extra folder which looks just like any other. There might be a “Convert to JPEG” folder on your desktop, say, which you can see and browse in Explorer. Folder Actions is monitoring the folder in the background, though, and if you drag and drop some PNG images (for instance) onto it, then in just a second or two they’ll be converted to JPEG and saved in a subfolder for you.

There are some obvious gaps in functionality here. If you can rotate an image during conversion, for instance, then you really need to be able to resize it as well, and that addition alone would make the program notably more useful.

Folder Actions is already a simple way to cut down on a few file management hassles, though, and if that sounds appealing then you should give it a try.

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