Renaming files in Mac OS with Automator

Automator window with settings for renaming filesI needed to do some renaming of files in Mac OS – the files had forward slashes in the name but this was giving Dropbox and subsequently Windows some problems as that character isn’t allowed on Windows.

I found a quick Automator workflow that I was able to setup as a Service, so it is available by right-clicking on a file and selecting “Services” then selecting the name of the action I saved.

Thanks to the user [richarddas] over at Stack Overflow for sharing his knowledge there:


The workflow:

I’ve set up a service called “Rename Items…” that can be run by selecting any item (or batch of items) in the Finder, right clicking, and then selecting Services > Rename Items…

This is useful as it will provide a small popup window when you perform the action, where you can choose whatever settings you want (for example, you can make the sequence sequential, replace text, add text, etc.)

In order to create something similar for yourself:

  1. launch Automator
  2. when prompted, choose the “Service” template.
  3. drag and drop the Rename Finder Items action to the workflow area on the right (you can find this action easily by typing ‘rename’ into the search bar in the upper left of Automator)
  4. you will be asked whether you want this service to duplicate files when they are renamed (preserving the originals) or just work on the files themselves (if you do this, your actions will not be undo-able)
  5. configure the action to whatever you want the default prompt to be (“Add Date or Time”, “Add Text”, “Change Case”, etc.) I have selected “Make Sequential” as my default, but you can do whichever you prefer.
  6. At the bottom of the action bubble, there are 3 small buttons (Results, Options, Description). Choose Options, and then tick the box that says “Show this action when the workflow runs”)
  7. Lastly, at the top of the Automator window, you must configure two dropdowns that specify what this Service will be active for. Set this to: “Service receives FILES OR FOLDERS in FINDER.APP”
  8. Save and you’re done. Select any file in the Finder now, and under the Services menu you will find your new service (under whatever name you gave when saving, eg. “Rename Items…”) Whenever you run this service, you will get a popup window that allows you to configure your renaming pattern.

Kudos to Fisher-Price for repairable toys!

Fisher-Price Doodle Pro - broken
No more erasing for this Doodle Pro 🙁

Maybe not quite as timeless as an Etch-a-Sketch. but I think Magna Doodles are still pretty popular. I had one as a kid, and now my kids have a Doodle Pro by Fisher-Price.

Now, while I may give this 3 stars on a product review for breaking in the first place, I have to give kudos to Fisher-Price for making this particular item SO EASY TO FIX!

Six Phillips head screws!

No adhesives or clips!

A quick bit of glue to reattach the magnet strip to the swiper, and bam, a $25 toy is kept out of a landfill.

Thanks FP!

Phillips head screw
No security bits needed, and no adhesives or clips to fuss with!
Swiper arm with no magnet
The adhesive on the magnet failed and it came off the swiper arm.
Wall sconce spacer/shim

Wall sconce spacer/shim

On the wall and ready to go.

This past spring we bought new wall sconces to install on the exterior of our house. Unfortunately, the one in the back didn’t sit flush against the wood siding, due in part to the mounting tabs on the electrical box in the wall.

I wanted a spacer that would put the light a little further from the mounting plate, and have a cutout for part of the electrical box that was outside of the edge of the light. I also wanted to ensure it would stay in place.

The diameter of the plate that attached to the wall was measured, along with the inside height and width of the light. Additionally, I measured the outside width and height of the light and added a little buffer – this would form the shelf that the light would actually sit on.

A small notch was left in the bottom so that any moisture that might get behind everything could drain. Another notch was left in the top to accommodate the bracket already on the wall.

After cutting everything on the laser cutter, it was assembled with some Gorilla Glue, and then painted.

Everything fit as planned, and the large gap in the top was sealed with outdoor caulk.