Make Automator Work for You

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Take Automator for a trial run

Think Automator seems cool, but don’t know where to get started? Here are five useful workflows you can try right now. First open Automator. Then click on the library item specified at the beginning of each step and drag the action that follows from the Action list into the Workflow pane below any previous actions. (The relevant library items and actions for each step are indicated in bold.)

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E-mail a song from iTunes

This workflow lets you send songs from your iTunes Library to anyone who has an e-mail address. The workflow will prompt you for the recipient and the subject line of the e-mail, as well as for the song (or songs) you want to attach.

1. Mail: New Mail Message In Options, select Show Action When Run so the workflow will ask you to specify the subject line and the recipient when you run it.

2. iTunes: Ask For Songs This action lets you pick the song (or songs) you want to send. If you think you might want to send more than one, select Allow Multiple Selection.

3. Mail: Add Attachments To Front Message This action assembles the finished Mail message for you.

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Burn a backup of recent photos

This workflow burns all iPhoto pictures you’ve taken in the past two months onto a blank CD or DVD.

1. Automator: Ask For Confirmation In the Message box, type a short description of what the workflow does; you can add a more elaborate description in the Explanation field. When you run your workflow, these descriptions will appear in a dialog box.

2. iPhoto: Find iPhoto Items In the Find pop-up menu, choose Photos. In the Whose section beneath, choose Date from the first pop-up menu and Within Last 2 Months from the second one.

3. System: Burn A Disc In the Disc Name field, give your disc a descriptive name such as iPhoto Backup.

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Create a photo album from the images on a Web site

This workflow copies images from a Web page in Safari to a new album in iPhoto.

1. Safari: Get Current Webpage From Safari This action gets the URL of the foremost browser window.

2. Safari: Get Image URLs From Webpage In the Get URLs Of Images pop-up menu, choose Linked From These Webpages so the workflow will download the images themselves, not dinky thumbnails. Just keep in mind that it’ll download any and all graphics on the page.

3. Safari: Download URLs Choose whatever folder you like from the Where pop-up menu; your Pictures folder is as good a place as any.

4. iPhoto: Import Photos Into iPhoto In the Options section, select Show Action When Run so you get a chance to give your new iPhoto album a name while your workflow is running.

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Get a list of every font enabled on your Mac

This workflow creates a text document that lists all your fonts (it takes a while to run).

1. Font Book: Find Font Book Items Make sure Typefaces is selected in the Find pop-up menu; the lower menus should read Whose Enabled Is True.

2. Font Book: Get Font Info Leave only PostScript Name turned on; the other items will clog up your list with unnecessary information. You can also deselect the Add Labels option.

3. TextEdit: New TextEdit Document This action launches TextEdit (if it isn’t already running), creates a new text file, and dumps your list of fonts into it.

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Convert and rename big image files

This workflow shrinks selected images (space-hogging TIFFs, for example) by 50 percent, saves them as space-conserving JPEGs, appends the word (small) to their file names, and opens the new images in Preview.

1. Finder: Ask For Finder Items Make sure Files is selected in the Type pop-up menu. Specify the location where you want to start selecting, and select the Allow Multiple Selection option, which presents an Open dialog box where you can select the images you want to convert and rename.

2. Finder: Copy Finder Items From the To pop-up menu, pick a folder (your Pictures folder will work just fine), to which the workflow will copy the original images before it modifies them.

3. Finder: Rename Finder Items From the top pop-up menu, choose Add Text. Type

(small)
in the text field, and select After Name so your workflow will add this suffix to the end of each image’s file name.

4. Preview: Scale Images Choose By Percentage from the pop-up menu and type

50
.

5. Preview: Change Type Of Images You can select any image format you want, but JPEG is a good option if you’re planning to post the images on a Web site or send them by e-mail.

6. Preview: Open Images In Preview This shows you the result of your workflow in Preview.

[ Adam Goldstein is the author of AppleScript: The Missing Manual (O’Reilly, 2005). ]

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