MacOS’s file manager, the Finder, has a lot of useful tricks up its sleeve, many of which are there to help you work more efficiently. One such feature has existed since MacOS Mojave and makes it easier to work with files in the Finder. This feature is called Quick Actions and presents a right-click (or two-finger tap) context menu for files and folders in the Finder.

This context menu changes depending on the file or folder you are working with. For example, if you right-click on an image, you can quickly convert it to a different image format (say, from png to jpg) without having to open an image editor or create a PDF from the file first. With a PDF file, you can automatically open it with markup enabled (so you can annotate the file). On a video file, you can rotate or crop it.

Also: How to edit a PDF

Of course, not every file type has a quick action associated with it, but you can add new quick actions (which we’ll cover in a later tutorial) using a built-in tool. Before we get to that, you need to understand how quick actions can work to make your daily life a little less stressful.

First, know that out-of-the-box quick actions are pretty limited. The real power comes when you create your own quick actions, but you have to learn to walk before you can run (and the quick action creator can be quite overwhelming at first). Therefore, let’s take a walk with MacOS Finder Quick Actions.

What files offer quick actions?

By default, the following file types offer quick actions from the Finder context menu:

  • Images (such as JPEG, PNG, and GIF files)
  • Videos (such as MOV and MP4)
  • Documents (limited to PDF files by default)

So, clearly, Quick Actions are limited without a little extra work. However, if you’re dealing with a lot of images, videos, and PDFs, Quick Actions are there to help. You will also find that the quick image conversion action is also limited to converting images to JPG, PNG and HEIF files only.

How to use Quick Actions

1. Open Finder and locate a file

The first thing we’re going to do is open the Finder and find a file to work on. Let’s use a JPG file as an example. With the Finder open, navigate to the directory containing the JPG image you want to transform.

2. Right-click the file to enter the quick action menu

Right-click (or tap with two fingers) on the file in question and you should see the Quick Actions menu entry in the pop-up menu (Figure 1).

Figure 1

The Quick Actions entry in the Finder context menu.

The quick action menu entry is there to serve.

Image: Jack Wallen

Click the Quick Actions submenu to reveal the available actions (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Quick Actions submenu in Finder.

The actions that are available for a JPG image.

Image: Jack Wallen

Let’s say you want to convert this JPG to PNG image. From the submenu, click Convert Image. In the resulting popup (Figure 3), select PNG from the Format drop-down menu, and then select the desired size (from small, medium, large, and actual size) and click the Convert button.

Figure 3

The image conversion popup for quick actions.

Configure your converted image in the Finder popup.

Image: Jack Wallen

3. Convert images to PDF

One very cool trick with Quick Actions is the ability to quickly create a PDF document from a collection of images. It’s simple:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Navigate to the folder containing the images to add to the new PDF.
  3. Select all images to add.
  4. Right-click the selected images and click Quick Actions > Create PDF (Figure 4).
  5. When prompted, name the PDF file.

Figure 4

The Create PDF entry in Quick Actions.

Converting a collection of images to PDF is easy on macOS.

Image: Jack Wallen

That’s it. You’ll now find a new PDF document in your working directory, consisting of nothing more than the images you added. Although it’s pretty basic, it’s a great way to put together a collection of image files into a PDF file, which you can then share with those who need to see them in one document.

And that’s it for the MacOS Finder Quick Actions feature. As I mentioned earlier, I’ll soon walk you through the process of extending the default Quick Actions so you can get even more efficiency in the Finder.

Previous articleWhat we know about the monkeypox vaccine
Next articleProgram Overview: A live look at Caltech’s CTME graduate program in DevOps