How to execute a Folder Action or another Automator script when I make changes to a folder? And by changes I mean not just deleting or inserting new file, the most important for me is when the content of a file is changed the action will be triggered.


2 Answers 2


Using launchd, you could save a property list like this in ~/Library/LaunchAgents/ and load it with something like launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents/automator_test.plist or by logging out and back in.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC -//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN
<plist version="1.0">
    <integer>0</integer> <!-- run at most every 0 seconds, by default 10 -->

Launchd only detects changes to files when they are saved atomically (or deleted and recreated every time they are saved). Most OS X apps perform atomic saves, but for example TextMate and vim don't.

  • I haven't tested it yet al test it when I get home. But will it make it automatically every time I save changes to a file inside the folder? I started to read something about launchctl not being the recommended app/service for that, but I cannot remember where I read it.
    – msmafra
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 20:48
  • I did that and nothing is happening
    – msmafra
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 2:14
  • I tested it again and it worked for me. Did you replace username? You have to launchctl unload $path && launchctl load $path to apply changes.
    – Lri
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 4:28
  • Thank you, but, it doesn't work the way I want. It does what Folder Actions does, which is triggered if I insert, move or delete something inside the folder. I edited a HTML file inside the folder and nothing happened. And it is not recursive.
    – msmafra
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 22:05
  • You're right that it's not recursive, but it should be triggered when files are modified or files or folders are moved, deleted, or created.
    – Lri
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 11:00

This kind of requirement goes beyond the simple fsevents hooks exposed as Folder Actions. I’d recommend using Paul Kim’s Hazel, which will allow you to create “watch and react” rules of almost unlimited granularity and complexity.

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