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Mac Productivity: Quick Scripts and Workflows - Revealing File and Folder Paths

By  Mar 26, 2012

Topics: Apple, Operating Systems, Productivity

In my last post, I explained how to create an Automator workflow that can quickly and easily copy file and folder paths to the clipboard.  Then, you can paste them into an email or document to share with others.  What if you’re on the receiving end, though?  How can you quickly and easily navigate to those files or folders?  Automator can help with that too.  Here are steps to build a Service workflow, which will reveal selected file or folder paths in an opened email or document...

1. Launch Automator (in /Applications)

2. When prompted to choose a type of workflow, select Service and click Choose

Creating an Automator Service workflow

3. Set the popup menus at the top of the workflow area to receive text in any application

Setting the Service workflow to appear when text is selected in any application

4. Search for the Filter Paragraphs action, and drag it to the workflow area.  When you do this, you’ll see that the action "links up" with the top of the workflow area.  This tells you that the action will receive input.  When the workflow runs, any selected text is passed to this action as input.  It will then be separated into individual paragraphs of text - presumably file or folder paths.  Configure the action to return any paragraphs that are not empty.

Adding the Filter Paragraphs action to the workflow

5. Search for the Reveal Finder Items action, and drag it to the end of the workflow.  This action also receives input.  In this case, it receives the paragraphs output by the previous action.  It’s smart enough to process these paragraphs as files or folders, however, as long as they’re formatted as paths.

The completed workflow, which receives reveals file or folder paths.

6. Save the workflow, and name it Files and Folders • Reveal Selected Paths

Saving the Automator workflow as a Service

Ready for testing.  Select a file or folder path in an opened Mail message, TextEdit document, or other application that supports Mac OS X Services.  Then, from the application menu, select Services > Files and Folders • Reveal Selected Paths.

Triggering the workflow from an application Services menu.

Or, you can Right+Click or Control+Click on the selected path, and choose Services > Files and Folders • Reveal Selected Paths from the contextual menu.

Triggering the workflow from the Services contextual menu.

The workflow runs.  If all goes well, and the selected path is accessible, then the Finder is brought to the front and the path is revealed.

For more on Automator, check out my book  Automator for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide, as well as my video podcast series Mac Automation Made Simple.