Sort downloads by date added

Reader Steve Wharton seeks an easy way to find new items added to his Downloads folder. He writes:

Safari download items to my Downloads folder but because that folder is pretty full, I can’t always find the things I’ve just downloaded. I tried sorting by Date Created but some of the files weren’t created recently so they don’t appear at the top of the list. Is there any way to sort files by the date they were added?

Yes, but not as a Finder default. To work this spell, turn to Automator.

Launch Automator and in the Template Chooser sheet, select Folder Action. In the resulting window enter “shell” in the Search field. This produces the single Run Shell Script action in the window’s second column. Drag this action into the workflow area.

In the Run Shell Script action’s text area, enter touch "$@" and from the Pass Input pop-up menu select As Arguments. At the top of the window click on the pop-up menu used to select the folder that receives the action and choose your Downloads folder (inside your user folder).

Choose File -> Save and you’ll be prompted for a name. Enter something intuitive such as Date Added and you’re nearly good to go.

So, what happened? The shell script changes the date modified date to the date and time the file was added to the folder. To complete your work, open the Downloads folder, press Command-J to produce the View window, and enable Date Modified. Close the window and click the Date Modified column to sort items by the date they were modified. From now on, items will appear in the order they are added to the folder.

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