Mac Productivity: Quick Scripts & Workflows – Scaling Images in the Finder

There are tons of apps that allow you to manipulate images on your Mac.  iPhoto and Preview are two from Apple, and there are lots more available from the Mac App Store and third-party software vendors.  What you may not know, however, is that you don’t need a third-party app to do some basic image manipulations with your existing operating system.  Using Automator, you can create your own custom image processing plug-ins, which you can run right within the Finder.  [Read more on the Peachpit blog...]

Mac Productivity: Quick Scripts and Workflows – Add Date to Files and Folders

Keeping files and folders organized on my Mac is essential to my productivity.  Folder structures and naming conventions are a big help, but I also need to ways to quickly locate meeting or phone call notes from last Tuesday, or the samples a client sent me for review last October.  One method I use is to add date prefixes to certain file and folder names.  This provides visual clues when I’m browsing for something, and also allows me to sort more easily.  While the methodology works, I don’t like having to keep typing the date over and over again.  Although it only takes a few seconds, it’s repetitive, and sometimes I enter a typo.  Since my time is extremely limited, those few seconds are also valuable to me.  To make life easier, I’ve created an Automator Service that appends a date prefix to files and folders in the Finder.  Here’s how you can do the same... [Read more on the Peachpit blog...]

Mac Productivity: Quick Scripts & Workflows – Revealing File & Folder Paths

 In my last post, I explained how to create an Automator workflow that can quickly and easily copy file and folder paths to the clipboard.  Then, you can paste them into an email or document to share with others.  What if you’re on the receiving end, though?  How can you quickly and easily navigate to those files or folders?  Automator can help with that too.  Here are steps to build a Service workflow, which will reveal selected file or folder paths in an opened email or document... [Read more on the Peachpit blog...]

Mac Productivity: Quick Scripts & Workflows – Sharing File & Folder Paths

 If you work in an office, the odds are good that you have shared locations for files and folders.  Your office might have a Projects share, for example, where you keep project folders and related files.

Suppose you need to direct your buddy John to a specific file in one of these project folders?  What’s the easiest way to do it?

Well, you could type out directions to the file, such as Company Projects > Active Projects > 2012 > March > Some Project > Some Folder > Some Other Folder > Some File.  Of course, this takes time.  A few seconds here and there doesn’t sound like a lot, but it all adds up.  There’s also a lot of back and forth, looking at the file and going back through its parent folders, trying to figure out its exact path.  It’s easy to make a mistake, typing a folder name incorrectly, making it difficult for John to follow your roadmap and find the file in question.  Maybe you could open up the folder in list view, expand the folders down to the file, take a screenshot, and email it to John?  What a hassle.  There has to be an easier way.

There is.  A simple Automator workflow can do the work for you, copying the paths of selected files and folders to the clipboard, so you can quickly and easily send them to John.  Here’s how you do it... [Read more on the Peachpit blog...]

Mac Productivity: Quick Scripts and Workflows – Archiving Selected Mail Messages

Keeping up with email often seems like a losing battle. One thing that can help is reducing the number of messages in your inbox. Filing messages into individual mailboxes can be time consuming and inefficient. While dumping them all into a single mailbox may seem like a way to create a big mess, Mail’s search capabilities actually make it quite easy to locate specific messages.

Taking a lesson from Gmail’s All Mail feature, Mail in Lion includes a new option for archiving messages. Just select a message, choose Message > Archive from the menu bar, and the message is moved into an Archive mailbox, which Mail will create if it doesn’t exist. This feature gives Mail users a quick and easy way to file messages, getting them out of that bloated inbox.

I’d love to use Mail’s built-in Archive feature. However, it only archives to the mail server (for IMAP accounts, anyway, which is what I have). I keep my email archive locally. So, I used a combination of AppleScript and Automator to create my own Archive feature. Here’s how... [Read more on the Peachpit blog...]

Maccast Podcast 2012.02.26 – Automator Basics

I recently spoke with Adam Christianson about Automator in Mac OS X for the Maccast.  Topics included getting started with Automator, building a simple workflow, and troubleshooting workflow problems.  Check it out on the Maccast website or in iTunes!

Now Available: New Mac Automation Made Simple Videos!

Peachpit has bundled a new series of my Mac Automation Made Simple videos on Automator.  They're now available for purchase as DRM-Free downloads, so you can play them on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad.  Topics in this 8-part series include:

  • Automate generating job folders - If you use job folders for multiple projects to keep organized, learn how to save time and reduce errors by building workflows in Automator to create job folders consistently and quickly. You'll also learn the basics of actions and variables in Automator.
  • Batch-create folders from an Excel list - If your workflow ever requires you to create a large number of folders or sets of subfolders with specific naming conventions, Excel and Automator can work together to eliminate the manual creation of folders. By using the powerful features in Excel to build lists of file names in large numbers and use Automator to process those lists into hundreds of folders in minutes.
  • Display Growl notifications for new content - File sharing over a network is great for larger files that you wouldn't send via email, but how can you be sure that you're always notified when a new file lands in your folder? Learn how to team Automator with the popular notification software Growl to build a great workflow that eliminates the need for you to get an email or phone call notifying you of new files.
  • Schedule backups via a network - Do you manually back up your Mac to a server? If so, you've probably had to set up calendar reminders and run through the process on a regular basis or risk losing your data. In this lesson, learn how to make that process automatic and painless with Automator and iCal.
  • Share files via Dropbox - Take the powerful PDF tools offered in OS X a step further by building your own Print Plugin with Automator. You'll learn how to set up a Print Plugin that automatically posts any document you print to PDF to the online file sharing tool Dropbox. You'll also learn the basics of setting up actions to rename files to be friendly for upload tools by removing offending characters.
  • Batch-convert image files to PDF - If you've ever had the daunting task of scanning a book or a box of images with a flat bed scanner, you know that it isn't easy to combine all those files into a single PDF without some heavy-hitting applications like Photoshop and Acrobat Pro. But what if you don't have those applications or are just looking for an easier way? Learn how to set up a quick and easy way to combine multiple images into a single PDF without the hassle.
  • Batch-process images for iPhoto - If you're like most people with a smart phone, an amature photographer or have a large photo digitizing project on your plate, you'll import, manipulate and save hundreds to thousands of images a year. In this lesson, you'll learn how to unleash the power of Automator and free third-party tool to streamline your workflow and make importing images to your iPhoto library a snap.
  • Batch-process multiple InDesign files to PDF - Exporting multiple InDesign files to PDF can be as quick and easy as dragging and dropping your files. You'll learn how to create a drag-and-drop application with AppleScript and Automator that opens, exports, names, and saves PDFs from InDesign. You'll be able to use the same custom application for both InDesign CS4 and CS5.

Sold as a set, or individually, you can find them on Peachpit's website.

Mac Power Users Podcast Episode 070 – Working with Automator

I recently spoke with Katie Floyd and David Sparks about the automation capabilities in Mac OS X for episode 070 of the Mac Power Users podcast.  Topics included getting started with Automator, troubleshooting Automator workflows, Services, and differences between AppleScript and Automator.  Check it out on the Mac Power Users website or in iTunes!

Automation and Productivity Sessions at Macworld | iWorld 2012

Well, it's that time of year again. Folks are gearing up for Macworld San Francisco. This year, the conference has been renamed Macworld | iWorld, and a secondary conference has been added specifically for MacIT. As usual, I'll be there, presenting a number of sessions on automation and productivity. Here's the list of my sessions...

MacIT Sessions

[More info about MacIT]

Macworld | iWorld Sessions

If you're planning to attend my workshop, you can save $25 using priority code CCU18842 and registering here.

[More info about Macworld | iWorld]

Going to be there too? If so, be sure to find me and introduce yourself.

Hope to see you there.

-Ben Waldie

Mac OS X Lion: The Missing Manual Details Services, Automator, and AppleScript

From the Acknowledgements page...

"Ben Waldie… did a beautiful job updating the Automator/AppleScript material in Chapter 7"
- David Pogue

"Thank you, David, for the opportunity to contribute to such a complete resource on the world's greatest operating system!"
-Ben Waldie

Looking for a great comprehensive book on Mac OS X, which covers everything including powerful built-in automation tools such as Services, Automator, and AppleScript? Look no further. Get your copy today!

Mac OS X Lion: The Missing Manual
David Pogue

With Lion, Apple has unleashed the most innovative version of Mac OS X yet—and once again, David Pogue brings his humor and expertise to the #1 bestselling Mac book. Mac OS X 10.7 completely transforms the Mac user interface with multi-touch gestures borrowed from the iPhone and iPad, and includes more than 250 brand-new features. This book reveals them all with a wealth of insight and detail--and even does a deep dive into iCloud, Apple's wireless, free syncing service for Macs, PCs, iPhones, and iPads.

  • Perfect for newcomers. Get crystal-clear, jargon-free introduction to the Dock, the Mac OS X folder structure, Safari, Mail, and iCloud.
  • Go in-depth. Learn how use key new features such as full-screen apps, Mission Control, the new Mac App Store, Launchpad, Resume, Auto Save, Versions, AirDrop, and more. Are you even more of a power user? Learn to set up a network, make a Lion flash drive, and even learn the basics of Lion's underlying Unix.

There's something new on practically every page of this new edition, and David Pogue brings his celebrated wit and expertise to every one of them. Apple's brought a new cat to town, and Mac OS X Lion: The Missing Manual is the best way to tame it.

About David Pogue

David Pogue is the personal-technology columnist for the New York Times. Each week, he contributes a print column, an online column and an online video. His daily blog, "Pogue's Posts," is the Times's most popular blog. David is also an Emmy award-winning tech correspondent for CBS News and a frequent guest on NPR's "Morning Edition." His trademark comic tech videos appear each Thursday morning on CNBC. With over 3 million books in print, David is one of the world's bestselling how-to authors. He launched his own series of complete, funny computer books called the Missing Manual series, which now includes 60 titles. David graduated summa cum laude from Yale in 1985, with distinction in Music, and he spent ten years conducting and arranging Broadway musicals in New York. He's been profiled on both "48 Hours" and "60 Minutes."

About Ben Waldie

Ben Waldie is president of Automated Workflows, LLC, a company offering AppleScript, Automator, and workflow consulting services to Mac-based businesses. For years, Ben has developed professional automated solutions for companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Adobe Systems, Apple Inc., CNN, Microsoft, NASA, PC World, and Time Magazine. Ben is the author of “Automator for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide" (Peachpit Press) and “AppleScripting the Finder" (Automated Workflows, LLC), has written content for, Macworld, MacTech,, and more, and is the host of the “Mac Automation Made Simple" video podcast series (Peachpit Press). Ben is also the author of an AppleScript training CD for the Virtual Training Company, and is a frequent presenter at Macworld and other industry events.