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Mac Automation: image tweaking plug-in for Finder

Cory Bohon

Here's a task that most computer users run into on a daily basis: cropping and dealing with small image tweaks. This could be a daunting task if it were not for the Mac and Automator. In this how-to, I will show you how to make a small Finder plug-in that will allow you to manipulate images quickly. Please note, some of the actions required for this how-to are dependent upon Pixelmator being installed.

For this automation, you will need the following Automator actions (in the same order):

  • Get Selected Finder Items
  • Transform Images (this action is only available when you install Pixelmator)

When you drag the "Transform Images" action into the workflow area, it should automatically place the "Copy Finder Items" action into the workflow; this is in case you make a mistake in your editing process and need to go back to the original. Automator will also warn you that the "Transform Images" action will make changes to the file that you process through it (however, if the Copy Finder Items action is in place above the Transform Images action, the file that is edited will be copied before editing begins).

After you have the actions in place, check the "Show this action when the workflow runs" check box in the options of the Transform Images action. This will enable you to change the type of image tweak done each time. Now it's time to save the workflow as a Finder plug-in. File > Save As Plug-in will get you to the plug-in save panel, type in the file name you wish to use and chose the plug-in format type "Finder."

This workflow will run by right-clicking on any image in the Finder, and selecting More > Automator > then the action name you saved.

When you run the workflow on your image, Automator starts to process the image (this may take a couple seconds depending on the image file size and your computer). The workflow will then copy your image in the same location where the original image is located. Once the copy process has ended, you will be presented with a dialog asking how you would like the image tweaked.

You can get to more options by choosing the drop-down menu that is highlighted (above) in red. Change settings as necessary and then select "Continue." The original image will be changed to the settings, leaving the copy untouched.

If you don't have Pixelmator, you can replace the "Transform Images" action with any of the following actions:
  • Scale Images
  • Crop Images
  • Flip Images
  • Rotate Images
However, if you do not use the Transform Images action, your workflow will be for a single purpose and you will not be able to use the additional features the Transform Images action gives you.

I hope this Automation tutorial has been helpful to you. I invite you to post a comment with an Automation question that you would like to know more about (such as a task you would like to automate). I will answer these questions in a future Automation post.

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