How I Automate Folder and File Creation on a Mac

Since starting my own freelance business I’ve battled with a process I like for establishing new projects. After an overdue amount of time, I’ve discovered a way to automate folder and file creation on a mac.

Why automate?

That’s a simple question to answer. Time. While generally, it isn’t that obtrusive to my workflow to create new files and folders as I go but for the sake of collaboration and consistency it’s an absolute must.

I sought out a way to create what I like to call a project scaffold. This essentially helps me automate folder and file creation on my mac.

I was inspired by a tool called Yeoman which does essentially the same thing for web development projects. This handy tool helps rid of the setup time most projects take. I was also inspired by the way you generate files when working with Ruby on Rails. Rails has generators built in for nearly anything and it’s incredibly useful.

Mac Only for now

I currently run a PC that I built to use both Windows 10 and Mac OS. It’s the biggest contridiction ever but I guess you could say I wanted to spend less and get more. Apple products are top quality no doubt but when they get older there’s no room to improve them rather than buying a whole new unit. This is on purpose.

All that said, In this screencast, I make use of an application called Automator. You can use it for a slew of things to help automate your work flow. It’s a little tricky to set up but once you do it’s like a dream come true.

How We Use It

For this screencast, I utilized Automator to create a project scaffold for my agency. My agency is a two person team. With just two people I have noticed the amount of inconsistency in where files, folders, and other various assets were being kept. On a team larger than that I can only imagine how inconsistent things could get.

At Couple of Creatives, we utilize a Dropbox Team Folder. Inside the team folder we have a Clients folder and inside that, we run the project scaffold when onboarding a new client.

To fix the inconsistencies, I defined our own project framework using the Automator app. Having created the project scaffold application our client’s project files and folders now remain consistent. This helps us save time by not having to ask each other where certain things are.

Download the sample project scaffold app

On your own feel free to tweak the app to include any files and folders you wish to generate by modifying the bash script included.

Creating the Application

When starting with Automator you are prompted to choose what type of Automation to build. I tend to use Application simply because it behaves like other apps I use. Upon double-clicking the generated app you would then run the scripts you authored inside automator.

Extending the Application

To edit the application you simply open it with Automator. As time goes on you may find you need to change folders or file structures to match your new and improved workflow. You can do this at any time.

What else can I do with Automator?