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MacOS Mojave: How to use Quick Actions in Finder

One of the best improvements within Apple’s latest Mac operating system, now available in beta, is Finder Quick Actions. This feature make it much easier to perform some of your most frequently used edits on photos and videos. Here’s what you need to know.

What are Finder Quick Actions?

In its latest Mac operating system, Apple chose to make it much easier for everyone to get things done in fewer steps. One way in which it has done this is to make a range of actions for handling graphics, video, and audio easily available from within the Finder. These Finder Quick Actions currently include Markup, Rotate Left, Create PDF, Trim (audio or video), and a More option, which we’ll look at a little more deeply below.

How do you get to these actions?

In most Finder views, any available Quick Actions actions appear at the bottom right of the Finder window. You will also find some new actions inside a Quick Look window.

What sort of files?

Apple has defined Quick Actions solely around graphics, video, and audio. This means that the only Action you will find when working with another type of file will be the More button.

What does it do?

There are slightly different tools available to the three main supported file types:

Video

Select a video file, and you will find a Trim tool that lets you edit the clip in a preview window. You can also rotate the video.

Audio

Audio files also let you Trim the item.

Image files

Image files have the most tools available. These include Markup, Rotate Left, Create PDF, and any other available items you may be able to access when you tap the More… button.

Markup provides all the tools you are used to accessing when you open an item in the Preview app, but without opening that app. You’ll still need to open an item in an application to access more sophisticated edits, though you may be able to create your own Automator scripts for this, accessed via More.

What does the More… item do?

Mac users can use Automator to create their own automated tasks, and these can be made available via the Quick Actions More… item. The significance of this is that you can build your own Quick Actions that make it much easier to automate tasks that you regularly do.

How to build your own Quick Action using Automator

You can create your own Quick Actions using Automator. Many of these self-made actions can then be accessed via the Finder’s More item.

Here is a useful example that shows how this is done, an image resizing tool. Here is how to build this in Automator:

  • Launch Automator and choose New Document.
  • In the Choose a type for your document window select: Quick Action Workflow.
  • In the Workflow receives drop-down menu you should select image files.
  • Now select Files & Folders in the Actions bar at the left of the app window. Drag Get Specified Finder Items into the workflow window.
  • Now select Photos from the sidebar and drag Scale Images to the workflow, underneath the previous item you added. Automator will ask if you want to add a Copy Finder Items step here in order to edit a copy of the original image. You don’t have to do this, but I do.
  • In the Scale Images box type the size you want images to be resized to.
  • Now Save your workflow using the Save command in Automator’s Menu bar, and name it appropriately (Resize Image 1200, for example).

This useful Quick Action will now be available when you Control-click an image file (like any Automator script), it will also be available when you tap the More (ellipsis) item at the bottom right of a Finder window:

What else should I know?

Apple is encouraging developers to build in Automator script support for at least some of the actions they provide inside their apps. I think this means that in the future you will find it possible to create Automator workflows for a slew of new applications, as well as new tools Apple says it may make available.

Why does this matter?

Being able to access your most-used tools from within the Finder will save you a little time and should make you more productive. As you create your own actions, or new ones are made available to you, you will see the tasks you can transact inside this view expand.

Warning

This article refers to the first Public Beta of MacOS Mojave. This means that final features may change or be enhanced before macOS ships this fall. I’ll try to keep you posted, just follow me here.

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