Automate your Mac with the iPhone

Our good friends at Automator.us appear to be as excited about the iPhone as the rest of the world. The proof, you say? Check out the Automator: iPhone page.

Here you’ll find iPhone Mail Rules v1.0. This is a collection of four helpful Mail rules based on AppleScript that you use in conjunction with Apple’s Mail. Each is triggered by an e-mail message you send to yourself (ideally from your iPhone but you can use any e-mail client on any device) from a particular e-mail address—your .Mac account, for example. These rules look for a particular subject heading—Add to Blog, for instance—followed by a four-character security code (to help prevent someone spoofing your e-mail address and obtaining information you’d rather they didn’t).

iPhone Mail Rules includes an installer that puts the AppleScripts in their proper location and creates the rules for you. You can also use the installer to delete the installed rules. An iPhone Mail Rules Administrator application is also included, which allows you to to quickly enable/disable the rules or change their security ID. iPhone Mail Rules works only with Apple’s Mail and for it to work properly your Mac must be on and Mail launched and configured to automatically retrieve e-mail every so often.

The four rules shake out this way:

Add to Blog: From your iPhone, go to the Photos area, select a picture, tap the Send icon in the lower-left corner, and choose Email Photo. The photo will be sent to the iPhone’s Mail application and placed in a new message. In the To field enter one of your e-mail accounts. In the Subject field enter Add to Blog xxxx (where xxxx is your four-digit security code).

When Mail receives the message, it runs the Add to Blog rule, launches iWeb, places the image in a new iWeb blog entry, and places any text you’ve entered in the body of the message in the blog description.

Note that this script requires that you have only one site in your iWeb document. See the fine print on the Automator.us page.

Also note: When you send a message from the Photos area, you don’t have the option to choose which e-mail address it comes from; it will be sent from the iPhone’s default address. To choose that default address, tap Settings, tap Mail, scroll to the bottom of the screen, tap Default Account, and choose the account from which you’ll send mail. This account must match the account you’ve provided to Mail when setting up iPhone Mail Rules.

Add to iPhoto: This rule follows the same “send yourself a message with a special subject heading” scheme. Select a picture on your iPhone, e-mail it, and when Mail receives it, it launches iPhoto and places the picture in your iPhoto library. Any text in the message body appears in the picture’s description field within iPhoto.

List Folder: This rule will return a message to you that lists the contents of a particular folder on your Mac. Send an e-mail from your iPhone with the subject heading List Folder xxxx and, in the message body, enter the path of the folder whose contents you’d like to view. For example, /Users/ yourusername /Documents/ . (And, yes, you must provide the full path, no fair using the tilde character for your home directory. And the path must end with the forward slash.) You’ll be sent a return message that lists the contents of that folder.

Send Document: This final rule is the List Folder rule’s other shoe. Now that you know the contents of a folder, you can ask Mail to send you a copy of one of the files within it. Create a message with the subject heading Send Document xxxx and in the message body enter the path to that document and its name: /Users/ yourusername /Documents/testfile.doc , for example. Mail will send a message to your that contains that file as an attachment.

Note: The iPhone wants to see document extensions— testfile.doc, rather than testfile. It will still receive the file, but it won’t open it without the extension. So if you think you’ll be sending yourself Word, Excel, and PDF files in this way, be sure to add the extension to their names on your Mac.

[ Senior editor Christopher Breen writes the Mac 911 weblog. ]

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