Everything Automated

Update: Keyboard Maestro, which I use to trigger all of my workflows is available at a special discount. Click here to buy and save 20%. We now return you to your regular programming…

Here it is for your inspiration: my big list of custom hacks, tools and macros. Some of these workflows have been covered in detail here in which case I’ve provided a link and I try to update this post as I add workflows. But to start, an introduction to:

The Tools

There’s always more than one way to accomplish any task. The list below represents the tools that I think are best in class but by all means go ahead and use the tool you like or already own.


Backup Solution

Chronosync: 40$ from Econ. Creates bootable backups, archives deleted or update files and can be triggered when volumes or servers mount.

Task Scheduling

Hazel: $21.95 from Noodlesoft. Mostly works with files and folders but through clever configuration it will run tasks on a schedule. Has excellent Automator and Applescript integration and runs as Pref Pane.

Hotkey Management

Keyboard Maestro: $36 from Stairways Software. The user interface is a little old-fashioned but it works extremely well. I’ve had problems reliably mapping menu commands in some other, fancier, applications but never in Keyboard Maestro.

And now onto the workflows, hacks and hot keys…

Keyboard Maestro Workflows

Make New Folder From Selection
Command-G turns Photoshop layers into a group, why not Finder items? Blog post here.

Run “Open DNS Updater” Every 2 Hours
I direct every computer on my LAN to OpenDNS instead of my ISP’s servers. The updater needs to run on my Mac so that OpenDNS always has my correct IP address but it doesn’t need to run all the time. Since the updater lives in the menu bar running the updater and then quitting it 3 minutes later keeps my menu bar tidy.

Unlock Drive
I have a 1TB encrypted hard drive that I carry everywhere. It contains a sync of my entire Documents folder plus a backup of my mailbox, iPhoto library, Garageband Songs, Audio Unit presets and Photoshop settings (I sync my Photoshop setting between all my Macs so that I have an identical work environment no matter where I go). The global key combination “-1tb” opens the unlocking program for me and dismisses it after I enter my password.

Run All Backups
Chronosync already manages my backups, including backups that occur when I mount a removable hard drive or connect to a server. I use a typed string “-backup” to kickstart Chronosync’s backup schedule if I want to sync everything on command.

Bring Pathfinder To The Front
Pathfinder is another tool I use – I am addicted to tabbed Finder windows! The global Option-Tab hot key activates Pathfinder from any application.

Various Keynote Workflows
I use Keynote almost every day. I have over a dozen macros for Keynote, too many to cover here in detail but I can talk about them in general. I have assigned hot keys to all of the align and distribute commands. I also have macros assigned to Command-Option-Arrow Key to move objects in increments of 100 pixels by repeating the Shift-Arrow Key keystrokes 10 times. Lastly, I have written an Applescript that presents a dialog accepts a string such as “62u” which then instructs Keyboard Maestro to move the current selection 62 pixels up. Or I can type “15r” and the selection moves 15 pixels to the right. This keeps my brain focused on design, not counting pixels.

Open Current Page In Firefox
Need to switch from Safari to Firefox? Blog post here.

Get Current RGB Value Under Cursor
The global hot key combo Control-Option-Command-C instructs the Iconfactory’s xScope tool to surrender the RGB value of the color currently under my cursor. An Applescript formats the result to my liking (I prefer “RGB 100-10-1” without leading zeros) and places the string back in the clipboard.

Applescripts Workflows

Truncate after __
Truncate after first number
Truncate after first word

These three scripts help me deal with files from internet. Great when I have 100 files that all have garbage in the file names. One of these scripts usually runs as part of a Hazel workflow.

Merge Selected Files
A custom interface (or rather a total removal of the interface) for the UNIX “cat” command. This script sorts and merges whatever files I have selected using the name of the first file. Of course, the script is smart enough to throw out anything that’s not part of the archive. Hazel calls this script if it detects a segmented file.

Photoshop Build Contact Sheet
I don’t use this often but this is how I make icon previews in Photoshop. I also use it at work sometimes.

Photoshop Save PNG With Timestamp
My #1 most used script. I made it for personal use but now use it at work often. This is great if I need to export the same Photoshop file to PNG a few times with slight changes or layers visibility toggled.
script_glyphDownload PS_Save_PNG+Timestamp.scpt.

Photoshop Save PNG
Basically a silent way to save a PNG. “Save for web…” is just as fast but is not the same as saving a PNG from Photoshop, hence this tool.

Photoshop Crop Then Save With Timestamp
Another super-useful script for anyone who exports UI elements from Photoshop. Crops the current Photoshop document to my selection and saves it out as PNG. Then it steps backwards in the history stack as if it had never run at all. The timestamp suffix lets me execute the script repeatedly and never overwrite any files.
script_glyphDownload PS_Crop_Save_PNG+Timestamp.scpt.

Photoshop Merge Copy With Timestamp
Similar to the above script, but it trims out unused pixels and makes the canvas as small as possible while preserving the alpha channel.

Mail These Files To Me
Photoshop Mail Open Document To Me

This is a simple way to get stuff onto my mobile devices when a wired connection is not possible.

Sort My Dropbox
I don’t keep a lot on Dropbox. But sometimes I use it if I’ve forgotten my portable drive somewhere. This script looks at the folder name that I have put files in on Dropbox and then finds the best matching folder name on my computer at home. It then moves the contents to my computer’s hard drive. It’s like automated sorting. Probably could be done with Hazel instead of Applescript.

Post My IP Addresses to a Website
Self explanatory. Gets internal and external IP of my computer and posts it to a secret website. This is great if my IP address changes and I need to FTP or ARD back to my Mac. I used to subscribe to “no-ip.org” but this script works fine. Runs automatically at startup.


Clean File Names
This script does a few dozen text replacements on files. Almost anything I download from the internet that is not an archive goes through this workflow.

Replace Dashes
Remove Alphanumeric Text
Replace Periods With Spaces
Replace Dashes With Spaces
Replace Underscores With Spaces
Replace Spaces With Underscores
Add Date Created To Filename

This collection of workflows does simple text substitutions.

ZIP Individual Folders
I use ComicbookLover to organize collections of images and eBooks. Making a comic book archive is as simple as changing the letters z-i-p to c-b-z. This script takes multiple folders and makes individual zip archives.

Copy Path To Clipboard
Self explanatory. Saves a little mousing around.

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