Setup OS X Folder Actions to Know When a File Is Added

Mac's handy Folder Actions utility gets it done

Folder Actions direct your computer to perform a task whenever a monitored folder undergoes one of the following changes: the folder is opened, closed, moved, or resized, or has an item added to or removed from it. Here's how to set it up to let you know an item has been added to a folder on any Mac with OS X Mavericks (10.9) through macOS Catalina (10.15).

How to Create the New Item Alert Folder Action

Choose a folder that you want to monitor for additions. You can select any folder, including one that's shared on the local network or one you use for syncing information via the cloud, such as Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. Then, perform the following steps:

  1. Right-click the folder you want to monitor, and select Folder Actions Setup in the pop-up menu.

    Mac contextual menu showing Folder Actions Setup option
  2. Click Run Service.

    Confirm Service window for folder actions on a Mac
  3. In the list of available folder action scripts, highlight add - new item alert.scpt and click Attach.

    LIst of pre-populated folder actions on a Mac
  4. Check the boxes next to Enable Folder Actions and the folder you want to monitor. Confirm that add - new item alert.scpt is checked as well.

    Folder Actions Setup window showing folders and scripts
  5. Close the Folder Actions Setup window.

Now, when an item is added to the specified folder, a dialog box pops up to notify you and gives you the option to view the new items immediately. The dialog box eventually dismisses itself. So, if you're away from your computer, you could miss a notification.

Folder action alert screen

If you're familiar with AppleScript, you can write folder actions. To learn more about AppleScript, start with Apple's Introduction to AppleScript.

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