Automator - just one MORE reason why I use an Apple Mac....

Mac vs PC debates have raged through the ages, of course. And I can't hope to summarise the pros and cons of each in a simple blog post here. But I did want to shout about something that delighted me in recent months about my Mac and that's discovering how to use the Automator utility.

Here's the use case. I had a bunch of photos and screenshots, all of which I wanted resized to 600 pixels wide, for inclusion in a Wordpress blog post elsewhere. Painstakingly, I opened each in Seashore (v0.1.9, the older one, is the best to use, IMHO) and resampled down, then saved. There must be a better way, I thought.

I started browsing through the Mac App Store and did find a few batch resizers, but they all cost money and seemed too complicated. I wonder.... I remembered seeing Automator a few times in my app list on the Mac, so I gave it a whirl:

  1. Start Automator
  2. Click on 'Application'
  3. Click on 'Photos'
  4. Drag the 'Scale images' action to the application pane (you'll be prompted to add a 'copy' action, so as not to replace the originals - this is a good idea for most people)
  5. Change the scale value as needed
  6. Use 'File/Save' to name and save the application somewhere sensible (e.g. the Applications folder)
  7. Drag this application onto the Mac's dock

And that's it. Took all of 45 seconds. Now, when I want a batch of images scaled down to 600 pixels wide, I just drag them all en masse from Finder to the icon on the dock. A few seconds later, the OS has done its work and my images are ready.

In fact, it proved so easy that I made a second one, for resizing to 800 pixels (for the All About sites). 

Then, a month later, I had a similar problem. I was creating (and downloading) a lot of images in PNG format (from screenshots, usually) but they were all way too big in terms of byte size. What I wanted was to convert them all on an ad-hoc basis to JPG. Again... I wonder....?

Automator to the rescue again, this time using the 'Change type' action from the 'Photos' section. Again, I now just drag any PNGs onto this icon on my Mac dock and bingo, they're all JPGs.*

This facility to just 'create' utilities with zero programming knowledge, and all built into the OS, is just tremendous - and, as something of a beginner, I feel as though I've only just scratched the surface of Automator here! See here for a list of 10 top uses in more detail.

* in fact, I also often then drag these files into JPEGmini, also a useful tool!


eranbeard said…
Thanks for this Steve! Have you found a way to resize and run the images through JPEG mini via one Automator script?

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