My (less than perfect) workflow for renaming PDFs Author(s) Year - Title

Hi everyone,
I am not massively experienced with automating but I did put together a little Workflow workflow to make renaming PDFs of academic journal articles a little easier on the iPad when I don’t have a keyboard deployed.

Basically I wanted to be able to rename a PDF without having to use the glass keyboard. The result is a lot of copy and pasting, but that’s easier and less error prone than typing on the glass keyboard. It asks for the number of authors and will format the names appropriately, if more than three it just asks fo the first author and appends “et al”.

There are some drawbacks. If you don’t remember how many authors are on the paper, then you might run into an issue. If the paper is not properly OCR’d, you’ll be out of luck. The delete-resave situation at the end of the workflow is a bit clumsier than I’d like. The whole workflow is a bit heavy-handed, pulling you in and out of the PDF over and over again, but this just tells you how much I hate typing on the glass!

The General Workflow

  1. On your iPad, download the PDF and save it to iCloud Drive. I normally use my Desktop folder in iCloud, just in case I don’t get around to renaming the PDF and want to do it later, perhaps while on my Mac – the Desktop is a bit like my inbox on all devices.
  2. Run the workflow from the Today widget or from within Workflow
  3. Walk through the process
  4. Choose a permanent location to save the newly renamed file (I usually save it to the inbox of the relevant DEVONthink To Go database for filing later).
  5. The original file (saved to ~/iCloud Drive/Desktop) is deleted.

I give more details about the ins and outs on my website here
and you can just go ahead and download the workflow here.

I totally welcome suggestions for streamlining the workflow or making it more flexible! Again this was kind of my first stab at a big automation project so I’m no master whatsoever.


Thank you, @Scottisloud. It is very useful for academics. I intend to work on it.