Automator to deal with PDF Articles

This may not be the right place for this, but I’m looking for someone to tell me if something I want to automate on my Mac is even possible, and if so, ideally some guidance on how to do it :slight_smile:

When I download PDF articles from academic databases, they come with a numeric code as a name. It takes me ages to rename them (often they have complex titles) and save them to where I want them.

So ideally, I would love to automate it so that every downloaded PDF file with a numeric name is automatically renamed with the title of the article and then moved to a folder on my desktop. I’ve had a look at the automator programme, but I’ve never used it, and I’m a bit scared of it, to be honest. I don’t want to start playing around and mess up my computer!

So am I barking up the wrong tree, or is this something that can be done?



I don’t know of an Automator solution, but both Papers and Sente will rename academic PDFs and organize them. They also locate the citation data, and you can search academic databases from within them and download the PDFs directly.As a long term fan of Papers, I have recently switched back to Sente because of the mind blowing automatic synchronization feature - I have three libraries, on work computer, laptop and iPad in perfect Sync…

Another fan of Papers - I haven’t renamed, or filed, an academic PDF in years!
Papers will sync between iOS devices and a Mac but not, as far as I know, different Macs. The only downside I’ve discovered with Papers is it doesn’t handle book chapters (or other non-journal sources) very well.

It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at Sente, given recent posts on the forum I may revisit it.

Thanks so much for these responses guys-much appreciated!

In my ideal world, this would certainly have solved my problem. Sadly however, I have both Papers and Sente on my computer, yet my problem persists, the reason being that I can’t get either programme to ‘play nice’ with my institution and my major journal provider JSTOR. Sente I can’t get to download anything. Papers I can get to work with Project Muse but not JSTOR. I know the latter is an issue for a lot of people, and I assume it is because the Open University has the wrong kind of access, although I confess I don’t understand much of the support discussion on the matter.

If there is a way to make either programme work for me, I would be really happy, but I don’t have the understanding necessary if it is even possible. Otherwise, Automator is the only solution I can think of.

Sorry for the whine, and thanks for the help,


You might try posting in the DevonTechnologies forums. DevonThink Pro and DevonAgent (its browser companion) have fairly powerful scripting. I haven’t personally tried what you’re looking for, but it wouldn’t surprise if some DTP users have.


You don’t need Papers to play nice with your university - if you can’t use JSTOR to match your articles, use Google Scholar (although you will need to copy & paste the abstract & DOI from the PDF to Papers if htis info is important to you).

If all you are interested in is renaming and filing PDFs, then all you really need for Papers to work its magic is the journal name, year and article author, although I think the article title is good to have too (you can change Papers’ preferences to include title in the file name if you prefer). Google Scholar will easily provide this data.

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I am busy trying them out now, and all your responses are very much appreciated :slight_smile: