Automator Tip Of The Week: Picture File Conversion

By Dan Hinckley

14 responses. »

Automator_512.jpgWe’ve mentioned previously how wonderful the new Automator is and have decided that to feature a weekly workflow that may make some of your tasks easier.

The Automator Tip of the Week is Picture File Conversion.

It is amazing the number of different picture file formats for the modern computer. Many people use jpegs but at the same time tiffs are still common amongst Mac users.

Additionally, web picture formats include gif, png, and many others. But amongst all these different file formats you may find yourself in need of a way to quickly convert pictures from one format to another. Opening each picture and saving it as a different format can be very time consuming. Unless, of course, you setup an automator task to do the work for you.

Change Picture File Type With Automator

The following Automator steps will help you batch convert the file extension of your pictures. For a point of reference I’ll reference this as if you were changing png images to jpeg:

  1. Find Finder Items – Do a search to select all the .png images you want to transfer to jpeg
  2. Get Selected Finder Items
  3. Copy Finder Items – This will make sure you keep an original copy of all your .png images should anything go wrong.
  4. Change Type of Images – select the image type you’d like to change to.

Run this automator process and you’ll be set with a backup copy of your images and the new images in your desired file format. The process that use to take you forever was completed in seconds.

If you need any help with an Automator process please let us know by leaving a comment.

About Dan Hinckley
Dan Hinckley is an experienced Mac user who converted to Apple products when they introduced them on Intel Processors. He loves helping others get more out of their devices! Subscribe to to get the latest from Dan and the Maciverse Team!! Find out more about Dan:

14 Responses so far.

  1. ChiQ Montes

    April 13, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Ooohh… interesting..

  2. ubrgeek

    April 26, 2008 at 5:00 am

    What about renaming it before or after you change the format? It seems to work when running the automator but not as a contextual menu…

  3. Dan

    April 26, 2008 at 6:23 am

    ubrgeek – Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like you're trying to add this as a plugin for Finder, so you can run it on from command+click (right click), more, automator, and then the script above?

    If so, you should remove the first step and save it as an Plugin for Finder. Then, anytime you select an image in finder that you'd like to convert, you can command+click (right click), then click More, Automator, and then whatever you've named the workflow above.

    I've tested this on my system and it works great. It took a second to start the plugin but once that was finished them images converted quickly.

    Let me know if you have other questions

    – Dan

  4. ubrgeek

    April 29, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Thanks Dan (not like you haven't heard this one before, but I love that I'm getting "automator" help from someone named Dan :)) It works well, unless the image is on the desktop to start with, in which case it duplicates the file twice. Any thoughts?

  5. Dan

    April 29, 2008 at 9:44 am

    If you remove the step that Copies the image to the Desktop that will solve your desktop problem.

  6. Will

    March 3, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I need a simple automator action that lets me batch adjust brightness and contrast for multiple images. After that, I want to be able to rename the files sequentially. I've tried "make sequential", but after applying the action on the same file for the second time, it starts from the previous session. For example, the first time, it went:

    example page 1.png

    example page 2.png

    example page 3.png

    But on the second time, the make sequential action caused the sequence to be:

    example page 4.png

    example page 5.png

    example page 6.png

    Please help, thanks.

    • Dan

      March 7, 2009 at 12:41 pm

      Are the files in the same directory? If so, it probably is starting at the next available number so not to over write the previous files. Try deleting them all and starting again, or save in a new directory.

  7. Trejkaz

    August 29, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    When I run this I get an error: "The action “Change Type of Images” encountered an error."

    In the Log it says: "No result was returned from some part of this expression. (-2763)"

    If I look at the Results of the previous action it correctly shows the images which were copied to the desktop.

    I got to your page after failing to figure this out on my own Automator script. I was using Duplicate instead of Copy so that the results would be in the same directory as the originals, but otherwise the symptoms were exactly the same.

    PS your comment form deletes the comment form when you tab into the box. I just lost my entire comment and had to type it from scratch. :-((

  8. kinoth

    September 14, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I had a workflow very similar to this in 10.5, but it broke when I updated to Snow Leopard. I have attempted to recreate it, and it seems that the 'Change Type of Images' action is broken.

  9. Dan

    September 15, 2009 at 6:40 am

    I’ll check when I have a free moment to see if I can figure out a solution. Let us know if you find something before the rest of us.

  10. Chris

    May 24, 2010 at 12:18 am

    Hello, I know I’m a little late to the party, but I’m have a hell of a time trying to complete the most simple of tasks… All I want is to convert images to png files, but automator has given me nothing but error messages and endless frustrations. I always see “The action [Change type of images] encountered an error. Check the action’s properties and try running the workflow again.”

    Why is this revolutionarily simple tool proving so difficult to use for me?

  11. Trejkaz

    September 4, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Tried it again today, after several OS updates have been installed over the course of a year. Still doesn't work. Good job, Apple… :(

    • justme

      November 19, 2010 at 2:23 pm

      true – it wont f*reaking work for snow leopard – there's simply no chance to work with .pict formats unless you import them into acrobat writer and re-export them …. wtf ????????? ….

  12. Eric

    January 4, 2012 at 11:25 am


    i need to convert .rwl files. any advice?

    fucking leica.

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