I'm new to Automator, but I've had a Mac for quite some time, and I'm not a total noob. :)

Here is my problem: Users need to make a backup (to desktop) of a folder located on a network drive. The folder name on the network drive is the same as the user's short username.

This is no problem if the user selects the folder themselves; I´ve made a workflow that does this. But I need this script to automatically find the folder on the network drive, based on the username and copy it to the desktop.

Any ideas how to find that folder and pass it on as my inputfolder variable? I assume I need to use a bash shell or applescript command in my workflow?

  • So, you want make an application what when is executed will copy an folder (with name = $USER) from the known network path (what is already mounted - e.g. the path is exists in the "/Volumes/something" to the ~/Desktop. right?
    – clt60
    Jun 11, 2011 at 23:18
  • Thats it. I have everything ready, just need the shell command to select the folder (with name = $USER) then pass it on the workflow as a variable (input) the copy is made later in the workflow with: (Get value of variabel (input and output) then get folder contents and finaly copy finder items)
    – iFuse
    Jun 12, 2011 at 17:20

2 Answers 2


With the information provided, I think the following should work (screenshot follows):

Run Shell Script
echo "afp://"
Ignore input

Get Specified Servers

Connect to Servers

New Folder
Name: Backup
Ignore input

Set Value of Variable
Variable: Destination

Run Shell Script
echo "/Volumes/foto/$USER"
Ignore input

Copy Finder Items
To: Destination variable (drag the "Destination" variable from the variable list to the "To" menu)
Check "Replacing existing files" if needed.

Variation for Incremental Backups

If you want incremental backups, you could replace Copy Finder Items with New Dated Folder, also setting its Destination to the Destination variable, and setting the "Action with passed items" option to "Duplicate passed items to the new folder". Make sure to enter something in the "Name" field, otherwise it won't work. To keep the backups listed in chronological order, you can set the Format to be Year-Month-Day and check the following options: "Leading zero for day", "Leading zero month", and "Month as number".

Screenshot of Automator workflow as described above


Finally you told what you have done. Now need to know what is the result after your 3.Connect to Servers. Because, the path depends on it.

Check the next screenshot, the connect returns /Volumes/minidata and the script add only the foto part.

automator screenshot

  • ok, it´s not working. The Shell script works though, and it seems to pass itself on as a variable. But! when i call the variable later in the workflow nothing happens? it does not call the path. maby the path is written wrong? : echo "/afp:$USER" I would like to post pictures of my workflow but im not allowed since im new here.
    – iFuse
    Jun 13, 2011 at 21:28
  • also tried: echo "afp:$USER"
    – iFuse
    Jun 13, 2011 at 21:29
  • Even tried a local folder, same thing. The shell script should work just like Get Specified Finder Items.
    – iFuse
    Jun 13, 2011 at 21:33
  • as you can see, all actions was passed ok, and got the folder copyed into may Desktop - so, try be more exact FROM WHERE want copy? I already asked you than the PATH IS IN /Volumes. It is in? or you havent a mounted remote fs?
    – clt60
    Jun 13, 2011 at 21:38
  • So you want mount the network drive first?
    – clt60
    Jun 13, 2011 at 21:40

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