I'm running Mountain Lion (10.8.3). I have three or four folder actions set up which stopped working some time ago, and I can't figure out why.

Thinking it could be a problem with the scripts, I created a new folder named "Test" on my desktop, and attached the "add - new item alert.scpt" sample script. When I created a new text file in the folder, nothing happened. I checked the system log to see if there were any error messages being output, but I couldn't find any. (In fact, searching the system log using Console.app for "folder" didn't produce any results at all)

How do I figure out why none of my folder actions are working?

  • 1
    Have you got folder actions enabled?
    – Thecafremo
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 8:59
  • You could also try deleting the plists in ~/Library/LaunchAgents/ and disabling and enabling folder actions from Folder Actions Setup. Do folder actions created with Automator work?
    – Lri
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 10:14
  • @LauriRanta I created a folder action using Automator and it didn't work. Deleting the two com.apple.FolderActions.*.plist files in that directory and toggling Folder Actions off/on to regenerate them also had no effect. Commented May 8, 2013 at 0:41
  • paste your plist code and your script code? Commented May 13, 2013 at 16:13
  • I have found that my folder actions in 10.8 are 1) really, really slow most of the time 2) sometimes appear to fail completely. I don't know why this is, on Lion/SL they were fine, super fast, near instant. My current machine is pretty hot (as in hot-rod) too. I haven't been able to figure this one out either. You might just have to wait an obscene amount of time. IT seems to me like when the processor is doing other things it doesn't want to be as compliant. You might try booting up into safe mode and then testing… maybe I should too... Commented May 13, 2013 at 18:19

4 Answers 4


Folder Actions seem to have been buggy for a lot of people in Mountain Lion (myself included). There’s discussion elsewhere on Ask Different about the unreliability of Folder Actions in general, and there are quite a few threads on Apple’s support forums about the issue.

Reinstalling 10.8.4 seemed to fix the problem for the OP, but I’ll note here what seems to be a common fix. The following practice, quoted from Jehan Alvani’s blog, has been cited in quite a few places:

  1. Create ~/Library/Scripts/Folder Action Scripts/ and drop the folder action script you want to add in there.
  2. Strangely, open System Preferences → Keyboard → Keyboard Shortcuts, and click the Reset to Defaults button.
  3. Scroll up to the Files & Folders section, and make sure that the Folder Actions Setup… listing is checked.

I think you want to go to the Services panel within the Keyboard preferences pane, but I’m not certain. I’m not willing to try it since I don’t want to reconfigure my keyboard shortcuts if I screw it up, and I don’t use Folder Actions anyway.

I know the OP’s problem has been fixed, but this may be of use to other people facing similar difficulties.

  • 1
    "Scroll up to the Files & Folders section." I don't get this part -- the Files & Folders section of what?
    – Jay
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 21:31

Deleting the workflow and reinstalling it will get things going again:

  1. Locate your .workflow file ~/Library/Workflows/Applications/Folder Actions/*.workflow

  2. Move .workflow file to Desktop.

  3. Delete the containing folder ~/Library/Workflows/Applications.

  4. Move .workflow file from Desktop back into ~/Library/Workflows

  5. Double click .workflow file to install.

Folder Action Installer dialog Folder Action Installer Installation Complete dialog


I wanted to reiterate the solutions from Alex and others are excellent. This process fixed folder actions automatic processing, without needing a manual trigger.

1.Scroll up to the Files & Folders section, and make sure that the Folder Actions Setup… listing is checked.
2. Deleting the workflow and reinstalling it will get things going again

After this, my folder context manual show the option 'Folder Acton Set up', the 'folder action' can then be assigned

Have to say, Apple's guide/help/documentation on this topic is very bad. The interface design is also terrible, after assigning the "folder action" in context manual, there is no 'confirm/submit' button, very weird without more help like here to figure things out.


In Yosemite I often have to restart the Mac to make the folder actions run. Especially if I've created a folder action > then removed it > corrected the script > readded the folder action.

But folder actions sometimes do some naughty things. Example: Adding a name to a file > will keep readding this name until file name limit has been reached. The action will have to move the file out of the folder to make it work.

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