Automating certain tasks is definitely the key to achieve common tasks without burning too much time. Folder Actions for Windows brings to the table a set of functions (converting image, audio and video files to different formats) that can be initiated automatically for files in user-defined folders.
The application is free of charge for home users and for educational use, otherwise a commercial license
is needed (the price starts from $29 / 23.83 EUR for a single license, with discounts for volume purchases).
During our testing installation was uneventful, but on the web there are copies of the application that try to push third-party software during this operation.
Looks are extremely simple. The interface features an area for selecting the locations sensitive to the available actions and another section that lets you pick the desired functions.
After adding a folder, you can define an action to be triggered. Only one action per location is allowed.
Folder Actions for Windows does accept the same entry multiple times but only on a temporary basis, meaning that at the next restart of the application only one entry will survive.
Apart from file (image, audio and video) conversion, the list of predefined actions present in the program includes alerting when a new item becomes available or automatically moving or copying a file to defined location.
Another option is to decompress (from ZIP, 7Z, RAR, ARJ) any archive that hits the folder; compression is also supported, to ZIP, 7Z, GZIP and TAR. Just like in the case of conversion, original data can be deleted immediately after processing completes. Audio and video conversion is carried out with FFmpeg, a resource that is installed automatically with Folder Actions for Windows.
During the activity, there is no evident sign that the operation is in progress. However, in the context menu of the system tray icon, you can view the files that are being processed. This is valid for video conversions, since this kind of task takes a little longer to complete.
Alternatively, you can view FFmpeg’s activity in a process manager, but this does not show which files undergo conversion, only their number. On the downside, there is no indication on the progress for each of the files.
Folder Actions for Windows can turn images into JPG, BMP, TIF, GIF and PNG. The options make available setting a certain quality level (low – 45%, normal – 75% or high – 95%) as well as rotate the pics by 90 degrees left/right or by 180 degrees. The application can store the results in a preset folder or in a user-defined location.
Audio conversion (to MP3, AC3, FLAC, OGG or WAV) does not require special attention, either. Configuring the procedure is straightforward and entails selecting the quality level (low, normal or best) and picking the output path.
In the case of video conversion, things have also been simplified. The developer includes some profiles for mobile rendering devices (iPhone, iPod, Blackberry, PSP, 3GP Mobile), but there are no custom settings.
This could be a problem for plenty of users who want to ready the movies for other devices or at least create a profile of their own. On the other hand, the movies can be turned into FLV, AVI or MPEG, which should play nicely on most devices.
In order to increase flexibility, the program features an area that allows users to create their own action. However, this is in stark contrast with the rest of the option as it is designed mainly for more advanced users.
Adding a custom action to the list requires loading a BAT file or a BAT script, which represent uncharted territory even for average users; but it does create plenty of room for more actions. This can be used for triggering the launch of a specific program that is set to start a particular job or simply rename the files. The Good
It is free of charge and installs easily. No complicated configuration is required in order to automate tasks. The Bad
There is no support for assigning multiple actions for the same folder. Conversion options are limited mostly to setting the quality of the output result. Some installers promote third-party software that does not increase functionality (Softpedia stores a clean version, though). The Truth Folder Actions for Windows
is a simple application that can help the average user automate certain tasks, especially converting audio, video and images to popular formats. However, its simplicity does not fit well with more advanced users who need increased flexibility that is not achieved by batch files or scripts.