If you’re a big user of the AirDrop feature on iOS and macOS, you probably know that when sending files from a mobile device to your Mac, they’re automatically saved to the Downloads folder. Whilst this is a logical place for them to go, it is non-configurable and lumps them in with your Mail attachments and Safari downloads.
This approach is not granular enough for some users, who may wish to designate a specific folder for AirDrop files to be saved to, just as you can for your Safari downloads. Although macOS does not allow this out of the box, it is possible. This guide will show you how to change the save location of files you send via AirDrop to a Mac.
Whilst other methods I’ve seen for this can save files to a destination other than the Downloads folder, they generally affect all files going into the folder, not just AirDrop files. The advantage of this method is that it leaves your Safari and Mail downloads alone, redirecting only your AirDrop files to a new home.
I often send large numbers of photographs from my iPhone to my Mac to add to my collection, and I don’t like having to sift through my Downloads folder to collect them up afterwards. This method lets me send them all into a separate folder together.
How to change where AirDropped files are saved on Mac
Update: The instructions below have been updated for macOS 10.14 Mojave, which has more (and buggier) protections on the filesystem. Mojave users should use the updated instructions below. If for some reason you are looking for the old Automator method, or are on an older OS, the original instructions can be found at the bottom of this article. If you are switching from the old method to the new, or vice versa, please first follow the How to revert your changes section of this guide, to ensure a clean start.
2) Unzip the downloaded file and you’ll find airdropSorter.scpt. Double-click it to open it. It should open by default in macOS’ Script Editor program.
3) We must now customise the script to reflect our chosen AirDrop folder location. Look for the field entitled property AIRDROP_FOLDER. It should be the first line of the script:
4) Edit the field to reflect your desired AirDrop folder. Edit only the file path between the quotes, and leave the quotes in place. Folder hierarchy should be shown with : and not with the macOS default of /, this is due to the script using the alias format. For example, the file path:
would be written as:
Relative file paths such as ~/Downloads do not seem to be supported. If you know how to express such file paths in alias format, let me know in the comments!
For example, I wanted my AirDropped files to go to a separate folder called AirDrop, inside my /Downloads folder, so the path I chose was:
Remember: if your boot drive is not called Macintosh HD, and your user account is not called idownloadblog (why would it be?!) then you must customise the field with your own details. Here is my finished script:
If you have specified a new folder to store the AirDropped files, like I have with the folder AirDrop, then remember to actually create the folder too, so the script can find it!
5) Once the changes are made, save the script, then open the ~/Library folder in Finder.
6) Inside ~/Library, navigate to Scripts, and from there to Folder Action Scripts. The full file path is:
~/Library/Scripts/Folder Action Scripts
You may not have the Folder Action Scripts file. If you do not already have it, create it.
7) Copy and paste airdropSorter.scpt into the Folder Action Scripts folder.
8) We must now enable the action.
Navigate to your ~/Downloads folder, and right-click it. In the options menu which appears, navigate to Services, and then select Folder Actions Setup…
9) If you are asked to “Confirm Service”, click Run Service. In the following window, ensure Enable Folder Actions is ticked, that Downloads is listed in the left-hand column, and is also ticked.
10) Now click the + symbol in the bottom-right to add our script to the folder. In the list which comes up, search for airdropSorter.scpt, and hit Attach.
11) And that’s it! The script is now active and attached to your ~/Downloads folder. Any files AirDropped to your computer should now be automatically relocated to the folder you specified in the script. To undo your changes, follow Steps 1-3 in the How to revert your changes section below.
Older method for pre-Mojave
Do not follow both sets of instructions. These are legacy instructions for pre-Mojave operating systems.
2) Double-click the downloaded .zip file to open it, and then double-click the resulting file, entitled Quarantine Filter.action.
3) A prompt will appear asking if you want to install the action. Select Install.
4) Next, launch the Automator application, and select New Document. When prompted, select Folder Action as the document type.
5) Once the document is open, look at the very top of the Workflow on the right-hand side. Where it says Folder Action receives files and folders added to: make sure you select your Downloads folder.
6) Now make sure you have the Actions tab selected in the top-left (rather than Variables), and then click on the Search bar next to it.
7) Search for Quarantine in the search bar. The action we installed should come up. Click and drag the Quarantine Filter over to the Workflow space on the right-hand side.
8) Click the Load button. Automator may prompt you to load the action we installed. If so, select Load Anyway to use it.
9) Once the Quarantine Filter is in place in the Workflow, click its drop-down menu, entitled Filter for:, and select Filter for: AirDrop File.
10) Now, return to the Search bar in the top-left. Search for Move Finder Items. Drag the Move Finder Items action over to the Workflow on the right-hand side, underneath the first action.
11) The drop-down menu in the Move Finder Items action is where our AirDrop files will be saved to. Set this option to whatever destination folder you choose. I set mine to the Desktop, but you may wish to create a “Received AirDrop Files” folder somewhere.
12) Now save the document with cmd-s, or with File… Save. Call it AirDrop. You can now quit the document.
13) Test it out by sending a file from your iOS device to your Mac. It should now be received to the folder you set instead of the Downloads folder.
And there you have it! Anytime you AirDrop a file to your Mac, this file will be saved on the default location you set.
If you ever need to revert these changes, you can follow the instructions below. They will set the default AirDrop folder back again and delete the Automator action you installed.
How to revert your changes
1) Navigate to your Downloads folder, and right-click it. In the options menu which appears, navigate to Services, and then select Folder Actions Setup…
2) In the window which appears select the Folder Action which you created and click the minus symbol to delete it.
3) Now go to /Users/USERNAME/Library/Scripts/Folder Action Scripts and delete the file called airdropSorter.scpt (if present).
4) Next, navigate to /Users/USERNAME/Library/Automator and delete the file called Quarantine Filter.action.
4) Lastly, navigate to /Users/USERNAME/Library/Workflows/Applications/Folder Actions and delete the file called AirDrop.
Have you railed against AirDrop’s incorrigible default behaviour often and often, until today? Do you have a request for another guide you’d like to see here on iDB? If so, let me know in the comments.