A Better “Show Downloads Folder" with Alfred

Posted on 2014-11-15

I've always used Alfred as a way to reveal my Downloads folder with the keyboard shortcut ⌘ ⌥ L, but that only gets me part of the way. I'm usually opening the downloads folder for a reason and so it would be handy if the file last added was already highlighted for me.

My original workflow simply looked like this

Show Downloads Folder in Alfred

Unfortunately, listing files or using the find command doesn't give you the file last added. You can get away with using ctime, but not in every case. Turns out Date Added is an attribute that Mac OS X adds to every file, which meant that I could use mdfind to get the file that was last added. All that's left to do is print out a list of file name and date last added, sort them, and get the most recently added file from the Downloads folder. From there, its just a matter of using the open -R command to reveal the file


RECENT=$(mdls -name kMDItemFSName -name kMDItemDateAdded $DOWNLOADS/* | \
sed 'N;s/\n//' | \
awk '{print $3 " " $4 " " substr($0,index($0,$7))}' | \
sort -r | \
cut -d'"' -f2 | \
head -n1)


mdls -name kMDItemFSName -name kMDItemDateAdded ~/Downloads/*

Lists the name and date added for all the files in the Downloads folder

sed 'N;s/\n//'

Looks at the next line and removes any newlines, which puts the name and date added all on one line1

awk '{print $3 " " $4 " " substr($0,index($0,$7))}'

Returns the name and date added in a nice format like "2014-11-15 19:36:28 "Arq.zip""

sort -r

Sorts the lines

cut -d'"' -f2

Splits the lines on a quotation mark and returns the second result (the filename)

head -n1

Gives the top item in the list, which is the most recently added file

open -R

Reveals the file instead of opening it in OS X.

You can download this workflow to reveal the last added file in your Downloads folder below.


  1. You can read a nice explanation of how the N command works in sed here 

Tags: alfred scripting


© Ryan M 2023. Built using Pelican.