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After clearing hundreds of items out of my Downloads folder, I'm eager not to repeat the process. Anyone know of a plugin/app/hack that will let me badge a folder in the Dock with the current number of items in that folder?

Such a badge would make it very apparent when I need to access/clear stuff out.

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Unfortunately I dont think thats possible, since badges are rendered using code that needs to be included in the app: Finder would need to integrate the code to tell its badge to change.

Consequently, third party apps in theory could get the file count of your Downloads folder, and they could code a badge to display it, but they wouldn't be able to access the Finder's dock tile objects: each app can only access their own, and app icons can't only be placed on the area of the dock reserved to folders and document aliases.

I couldn't find any utility that could solve this issue. Im sorry. It's a great idea though, and I would totally love it if someone proved me wrong and posted an app capable of doing this, for I too have a pretty messy downlads forlder.

The only way I found to get easily the item count is the status bar. Perhaps though, you could do a workflow in Automator or Apple Script Editor. I know Automator can make folder actions, which are run every time a file is added to a folder. It would just be a matter of keeping a count, I guess.

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Sources: A bit of research on desktop badges in Apple's developer documentation. The examples there all show the desktop tile object needs to be accessed directly within code.

Hope it helps! And good luck.

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Docktopus will do exactly what you're asking.

From the website:

Docktopus lets you to place informational badges on your Mac OS X Dock icons (similar to how Apple's Mail displays unread messages). With these badges Docktopus gives you instant access to useful information and powerful commands right from your Dock icons.

enter image description here

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Ahh that app sure is close. But the badge icon jolts ad stutters around a bit too much for my liking. Thanks for the find though. –  canderson Sep 27 '11 at 14:40
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Yes you can do this.

Here is a question about setting custom icons for folders: Changing or setting a file or folder icon programmatically

You'll want to write a program (shell, AppleScript, Automator, whatever) that checks the number of files in the Trash (either continuously, frequently, or whenever something is added), and then adjusts the icon as you desire.

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