How to Create Finder Quick Actions in the Mac Shortcuts App

Mac keyboard with a watch and planner

Quick Actions in Finder on Mac let you perform tasks with little effort. While you can create your own using Automator, you can make things easier and speed up the process using the Shortcuts app instead. Let’s look at how to create Finder Quick Actions for Mac in Shortcuts.

Tip: we can show you how to create your own Quick Actions on Mac.

What Are Finder Quick Actions?

If you’re unfamiliar with Quick Actions or new to macOS, you can find these in two spots.

When you right-click a file, you’ll see Quick Actions in the shortcut menu.

Quick Actions in the Finder shortcut menu

You can also select “More” in the toolbar below the Preview on the bottom right of the Finder window.

More in the Finder Preview toolbar

You’ll see a list of actions you can perform, well, quickly. Rotate an image, create a PDF, or trim a video with nothing more than a click.

Quick Actions in the Finder Preview toolbar

The Quick Actions you see in the menu can depend on the type of file you select. For instance, you won’t see the Rotate action if you have a Pages document selected.

The best thing about Quick Actions, aside from rapidly performing tasks, is that you can create your own. Think about a task you perform regularly on your Mac, then follow along below to create a Quick Action for it in Shortcuts.

Good to know: if you haven’t upgrade yet to macOS Ventura, you may be interested in these ways it will improve your Mac experience.

How to Create a Quick Action in the Shortcuts App

To get started, open the Shortcuts app.

  1. Open the shortcuts app.
Shortcuts in the Applications folder
  1. Select “Quick Actions” in the left sidebar. You may see one or two actions already listed if you have existing shortcuts that can be used as Quick Actions.
Quick Actions in the Shortcuts sidebar
  1. Click the plus sign in the toolbar at the top to create a custom Quick Action.
Plus sign to add a Quick Action in Shortcuts
  1. In the window that appears, give the shortcut any name you want in the field on the top left, then press Return.
New Shortcut name
  1. The workspace will be on the left with the Action Library on the right. As you choose actions from the library, they appear in the workspace area for you to configure.
Shortcuts workspace
  1. You can use the Categories or Apps tabs in the Action Library or the Search box at the top to find the actions you need. When you select a category or app, you’ll see the available actions displayed beneath. Click the Info icon (small letter “i”) to the right of an action to see a brief description.
Action description in Shortcuts
  1. To add an action to the workspace, either drag and drop it there or double-click it, then select the blue text in the action box to configure it.
Configure a Shortcuts action

Tip: look through this list if you’re looking for Slack workspaces for networking.

  1. You can add multiple actions to create your shortcut. Just keep in mind that the actions are performed in the order you place them in the workspace.
Multiple actions for a shortcuts
  1. If you want to remove an action, click the “X” on the right side of its box.
Delete an action
  1. When you finish adding and configuring actions, you can give the shortcut a test run. Click the Play button in the toolbar.
Play button in Shortcuts
  1. If you set up everything correctly, you should be able to perform the task immediately. If there’s a problem, you’ll see an alert pop up instead. Make the adjustments you need to correct the shortcut.
Shortcuts error message

Examples of Quick Actions Using Shortcuts

Let’s take a look at how to create a few different Quick Actions for common Mac tasks.

Set a Work Timer

One handy Quick Action is to start a timer. This would really come in handy if you use the Pomodoro technique to manage your time or make sure you take a break every so often.

  1. In the new shortcut window, give your Quick Action a name.
Name the Set Timer shortcut
  1. Open the “Apps” tab in the Action Library and choose “Clock.” Select the “Start Timer” action and drag it to the workspace.
Start Timer action in Shortcuts
  1. Use the text in blue to add the number, then choose seconds, minutes, or hours to the right.
Set Timer action settings
  1. You can then test the timer by pressing the Play button at the top.
Play button for the Set Timer shortcut

FYI: if you need help setting a timer on your iPhone camera, we can help!

  1. You should see the timer in your menu bar counting down.
Timer shortcuts in the menu bar
  1. Close the new shortcut window to see your new Quick Action in the Quick Actions section of the Shortcuts app. You can set the timer from here by pressing the play button or in Finder as desribed below.
Set Timer play button in Shortcuts

Record an Audio Note

You may want to capture an audio clip quickly, like a note to yourself or a specific sound in your environment. You can set up a Quick Action to record and save an audio file.

  1. In the new shortcut window, give your Quick Action a name.
Name the Record Audio shortcut
  1. Open the “Categories” tab in the Action Library and choose “Media.” Drag the “Record Audio” action to the workspace.
Record Audio action in Shortcuts
  1. If you’d like to adjust the quality or the method used to start and stop recording, select “Show More” to set these options. The adjustments will appear, along with the option to go back and “Show Less.”
More Record Audio action settings
  1. To save the recording, select “Categories” and add the “Save File” action to the workspace below the Record Audio action.
Save File action for a shortcut
  1. You can select “Show More” to prompt the action to ask you for the location and/or overwrite an existing file. The extra options will appear, along with the option to go back and “Show Less.”
More Record Audio action settings
  1. You can test the shortcut using the Play button at the top. Depending on the extra options you selected, you should be able to record and save your audio.
Shortcuts Play button
  1. Close the window and you’ll see the new shortcut in the Quick Actions section.
Record Audio Quick Action in Shortcuts

You can also supercharge your Shortcut menu with these Mac apps.

Open a Group of Apps

Do you have certain apps you open on your Mac regularly? Maybe for work you open Mail and Slack or for school you open Calendar and Notes. You can set up a Quick Action to open several apps at once.

  1. In the new shortcut window, give your Quick Action a name.
Name the Open Apps shortcut
  1. Open the “Categories” tab in the Action Library and choose “Scripting.” Drag the “Open App” action to the workspace.
Open Apps action in Shortcuts
  1. Click “App” in blue in the action box and choose the first app you want to open.
Open Apps shortcut app selection box
  1. Return to the Action Library and drag “Open App” to the workspace again, placing it below the first action.
Second Open Apps action added
  1. Click “App” in blue and choose the second app you want to open.
Second action added for the Open Apps shortcut
  1. Continue this process until you’ve added all the apps you want to the group. Press the Play button to test the shortcut and see your selected apps open.
Play button in Shortcuts
  1. Close the new shortcut window when you finish, and you’ll see the new item in your Quick Actions in Shortcuts.
Open Apps Quick Action in Shortcuts

Add the Quick Action in Finder

When you access Quick Actions in Finder, you may not see the ones you just created. This fast fix will help.

  1. Right-click any file, move to “Quick Actions,” and pick “Customize” at the bottom. Alternatively, select “More” in the toolbar below the Preview and pick “Customize.”
Customize in the Quick Actions list
  1. In the window that appears, check the boxes for those Quick Actions you want to display including the new one(s) you created. Select “Done.”
Finder Quick Actions selection
  1. Close the window and return to the Quick Actions list. You should see the ones you selected ready to go. Choose one to put it to work.
Finder Quick Actions list updated

Tip: Learn how to use Universal Control with your iPad and Mac.

How to Edit or Delete a Custom Quick Action

You can make changes to or delete a Quick Action you create in Shortcuts.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app and choose “Quick Actions” on the left.
Shortcuts Quick Action
  1. Right-click the one you want to change and choose “Edit.” Make your adjustments, then close the window to save your changes.
Edit in the Shortcuts menu
  1. To remove a Quick Action, right-click it and select “Delete.” Confirm by choosing “Delete” in the subsequent pop-up window.
Confirm Delete for a shortcut

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I disable Quick Actions I don’t use?

You can disable any Quick Actions you wish, including those added by Apple. Go to “System Settings -> Privacy & Security.” Select “Extensions” on the right, then “Finder.” Uncheck the boxes for those Quick Actions you no longer want to see in the list. Click “Done” to save your changes.

Can I still create Quick Actions using Automator?

Yes, you can still use the Automator app on Mac to create your Finder Quick Actions. The ability to do so in the Shortcuts app simply gives you another option.

Can I add Quick Actions I create in Shortcuts to my Dock?

If you find that you’re using a custom Quick Action several times per day, putting it in your Dock gives you even faster access to it.

Open Shortcuts, select “Quick Actions,” and right-click the one you want. Select “Add to Dock” in the menu. The handy action will be added to your Dock.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.

Sandy Writtenhouse
Sandy Writtenhouse

With her BS in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She wanted to help others learn how technology can enrich business and personal lives and has shared her suggestions and how-tos across thousands of articles.

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