How to Use an Automator in Mac OS to Delete Files From the Desktop

By Sophie Southern

Automator is one of the lesser-known applications that comes with Mac OS X, but it offers a wide variety of practical applications for computer geeks and novices alike. You can use Automator to perform all types of repetitive or habitual actions on your Mac, such as renaming files, resizing photos, extracting text or images from PDF files and creating group emails. You can also use Automator to move files and folders to the Trash without having to go through your Finder window.

Click the Finder icon in your dock to open a new Finder window, then click the shortcut link to your “Applications” folder on the left side of the Finder window. Double-click the Automator application icon to open Automator. Select “Application” from the startup menu.

Click the “Files and Folders” link under your library, located in the far left column of the Automator application window. The library allows you to access Automator actions for various applications and files on your computer.

Locate the “Ask for Finder Items” action in the near left column of the Automator application window. “Ask for Finder Items” allows you to open your Automator application and directly choose the items you want to move to the Trash without using your Finder.

Drag and drop the action into the workflow window. To drag and drop, click the action and move it over to the next window. Release your mouse when the small green “+” sign appears.

Locate the “Move Finder Items to Trash” action in the “Files and Folders” actions list. Drag the action and drop it directly under the “Ask for Finder Items” action.” To delete items in Mac OS X, you must move them to the Trash, then empty the Trash.

Click the “Run” button at the upper right corner of the Automator application window to test your workflow. Select a file you want to delete when prompted. You should see two green check marks and hear a noise if your workflow runs successfully.

Select “File” from the top menu bar, then select “Save as.” Give your workflow a name, such as “Delete.” Select your Desktop or a folder of your choice as the destination to save your Automator action. Under “File Format,” click the tab and select “Application.” Click the “Save” button. Saving your Automator action as a workflow allows you to edit it, but you won’t be able to run it. You must save Automator actions and workflows in application format to run actions.

Locate your Automator action application on your Desktop or folder. Double-click the application icon to run your actions. Drag your Automator application icon and drop it into your Dock for easy access. Empty your Trash after the action has completed.