04 Apr

Automating barcodes on macOS using a service

Many years ago now, I was the office barcode expert – in as much as I was the only person with a copy of any barcode creation software. Colleagues would email me frequently with lists of barcodes they wanted me to create for them. Sometimes the numbers would be in a Word file, sometimes an email, sometimes a text file – you name it.

If only there was a way I could just highlight the text and make barcodes. Well, in those days, there wasn’t but luckily now we have Barcode Basics. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how use Barcode Basics to create a Service in Automator to create barcodes from selected text.

NB. You can click any of the screen shots to enlarge.

1. Launch Automator
Make sure you’ve launched Barcode Basics at least once – that’s what installs the action we’re about to use. Next, launch Automator. You’ll find it in your Applications folder.

2. Create a new service
Click the “Service” option to make a new service.

Services appear under the File menu of many apps in macOS, including Finder and allow you to add functionality from other applications.

In our example, we’ll be adding functionality from Barcode Basics to any app capable of understanding text. So, make sure you set the settings up as follows.

2. Configure your barcode settings
Drag the “Make Barcode” action from the Actions library (the list on the left hand side of your Automator window) into your workflow and configure as necessary.

3. Make a new email
Next, drag a “New Mail Message” action (from “Mail” in your actions library) into your workflow. You can configure as much or as little in the “New Mail Message” action as you like. I’ve configured the subject and body.

4. Save the service
Next, press cmd-S to save your service and give it an appropriate name

5. Give it a test!
If you open any kind of text file (e.g. a Word file, a TextEdit file) you should now be able to see your action under its File>Services menu. Simply select the barcode numbers (which must be one per line), then run your action by selecting it in the Services menu. You should get an email with the generated barcodes as attachments.

I hope this demonstrated just how easy it is to create a service to generate barcodes and add them to an email. Automation with Barcode Basics and Apple’s Automator software really couldn’t be easier. And, of course, you can use Barcode Basics as a stand alone barcode generator too if you prefer.

I sure wish I had this back in my days as office barcode expert! If you haven’t given Barcode Basics a try yet, check it out at the Mac App Store.

Link to Mac App Store to purchase Barcode Basics - Mac barcode software

03 Apr

Creating a simple Automator workflow to make barcodes

In this tutorial, we’re going to create a very simple Automator workflow to create barcodes from user input. In future tutorials we’ll look at more advanced methods, but for now, lets keep things simple. You’re going to need a relatively recent version of macOS and an installed copy of Barcode Basics (that you’ve launched at least once!) if you want to follow along with this.

NB. You can click on any of these screen shots to enlarge them.

1. Launch Automator
Automator comes free with macOS and can be found in your Mac’s Applications folder. Launch Automator and create a new workflow.

2. Get some user input
Drag an “Ask for Text” action into your workflow. If you have trouble finding it, type “ask” into the search field to narrow down the options. Note that’s what I’ve done in the pic below.

3. Drag in a “Make Barcode” action
Drag in a “Make Barcode” user action. Again, if you have trouble finding it, type “Make Barcode” into the search field. If you can’t find it, it may be because you haven’t launched Barcode Basics – the actions get installed when it’s first run (if this is the case, quit Automator, launch Barcode Basics then start again). Your workflow should now look something like this.

You can configure the barcode settings as required. Note that the settings (e.g. BWR) apply to all barcodes made with this workflow.

4. Move the resulting files
Initially your files will be created in your Documents folder, in a sub folder called “Barcode Basics”. You should move them out of there to their required location to avoid that folder slowly growing in size. The “Move Finder Items” action is a good choice for this.

5. Run the workflow!
Press the “Run” button in your Automator workflow to generate barcodes! Enter a new one on each line to generate multiple barcodes.

This is an extremely basic example of creating an Automator workflow using Barcode Basic’s Automator action. In coming tutorials, we’ll look at creating a an Automator app, service and some more complicated workflows.

Naturally, you can still use Barcode Basics as a stand alone app. However, I hope this demonstrates how easy it is to automate barcode production. If I’ve sparked your interest then head over to the Mac App Store to pick up your copy!

Link to Mac App Store to purchase Barcode Basics - Mac barcode software