Using a single Automator action you can pop open a mini iPhoto browser that lists your library, albums and images. You get quick access to your photos without fully opening iPhoto.
The action is designed to kick off workflows, letting you select the photos other actions will act upon. So the Workflow is active while the window is open.
You could add other actions to the Workflow, but you don’t have to. It was demonstrated on an episode of MacBreak Weekly with a second action to open the selected photos in Preview if you clicked Choose instead of Cancel.
You can open the browser a number of ways. To make it highly accessible you might want to assign a function key to it. You can do that with Xkeys, a freeware application Murphy uses in the screencast.
While playing with Automator you might notice an iPhoto action for reviewing photos. It facilitates simply accepting or rejecting photos, and passing them on to another action. You could dump all the rejects to an album for example. Sure, you could do this in iPhoto with other tools. But this action keeps you on task if you’re easily distracted! Maybe we’ll screencast that another day.
This screencast features Automator, but it’s more about how to achieve the goal than about using Automator.
Murphy will show you the basics of creating a Workflow, but the ins and outs of saving your Automator work as an application will have to wait. We’ll get to it soon.
This technique can be really useful when you want to grab some photos from an online gallery. Unfortunately, it won’t work with photo galleries created with more sophisticated tools. Many galleries rely on scripts and applets that this Workflow won’t handle.
Murphy picked this tip up from Tim Margh last year and has been using it ever since. The Snippet shows how to configure your Mac to watch for emails matching certain criteria, like a particular subject. When the message comes in your Mac goes off to sleepyland. You could use this technique to have your Mac do other things as well. Perhaps more interesting things.
Some people will say this is stupid, you can simply set your Mac to sleep after x minutes. First of all, that’s no fun. Second, some people don’t want their Mac going to sleep on a timer. Ever.
On occasion Murphy wakes his Mac up remotely and connects with VNC. Sometimes he disconnects without putting the machine back to sleep. Instead of logging back in he just fires off a magic email.
You’ll need to download one file to try this yourself, straight from Apple’s site. It’s a sleeper action for Automator. Run the installer that comes in the dmg. The rest is all built-in.
So click Watch Now to view the screencast as Murphy acts out Tim’s tip. By the way, he uses text messages to sleep his Mac!
ps: Your Mac needs to be turned on, and Mail needs to be running.
Update: What about Windows? You can easily reboot Windows by email. Watch this to see how.
Note: Some readers have pointed out that you can do this whole thing in AppleScript. That’s true. But by using both Automator and AppleScript we’ve shown that you can kick off anything those two technologies can do – by email. Or text message for that matter.
Click for more ways to control your Mac by email.