24 Aug

Automate barcode production on macOS

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new version of Barcode Basics which includes support for Apple’s Automator app. This means that you can create barcodes in your own Automator workflows, services and even simple apps – without knowing anything about programming.

Imagine creating batches of barcodes from numbers supplied in a spread sheet. Or creating a barcode directly from text selected in an email. Anything you can do in Barcode Basics, you can now do in an Automator workflow.

Barcode Basics’ Automator workflow is included in every version of Barcode Basics, as standard. There are no hidden extra charges. And Barcode Basics is the cheapest way of automating barcode production by a long shot.

For more information about Barcode Basics, or to pick up your copy head over to the Mac App Store by clicking the link below.


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

15 May

Using Automator to convert Pages to PDF

Recently we were asked how to use Automator to convert Apple Pages documents into PDFs. In the spirit of sharing the knowledge, here’s how we did it.

It’d be great to make an app which we could drop our Pages files on and have them made into PDFs. The obvious way to make such an app is with Automator. Unfortunately, Pages doesn’t ship with Automator actions (although there are some funky third party options)

Luckily, Pages is AppleScriptable so we can make our own action. Let’s look at how to do that.

First, launch Automator (you’ll find it in your Mac’s Applications folder). Select “Application”.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 13.19.38

Next, drag a “Run AppleScript” workflow into your workflow so you have something that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 13.20.06

Replace all the purple text in the action with the following AppleScript:

on run {input, parameters}

repeat with theFile in input
tell application "Finder"
set theFilesFolder to (folder of theFile) as text
end tell

tell application "Pages"
set theDoc to open theFile

set theDocName to name of theDoc
set theName to (characters 1 thru -7 of theDocName) as text
export theDoc as PDF to file ((theFilesFolder & theName & ".pdf") as text)

close theDoc

end tell
end repeat
return input
end run

Save the workflow and you should now have an app that you can drop Pages documents on.

Note that it’s up to you to make sure that the documents you drop actually are Pages documents – the script doesn’t check and may error if you drop the wrong type of documents.

On a related note, if you’d rather dodge the AppleScripting all together then you could try out our handy Pages Automator Actions.

While we have your attention… why not check out our macOS apps?

Barcode Basics – macOS barcode generator (including Automator support)
Ai Actions – Automator action pack for Adobe Illustrator
Pages Automator Actions – Automator action pack for Pages

09 May

How to split PDF into PNG files in OS X

One pdf to multiple png files

We were asked recently how to split a PDF file into PNG files on Mac OS X. That’s to say, if the PDF has five pages then you’d want five PNG files produced, one for each page. Here are some options:

Adobe Acrobat
If you have Adobe Acrobat (not to be confused with the free Acrobat Reader) then you an simply open the PDF and select File>Save As and select “PNG”. However, Acrobat is expensive for what it is and there are some free alternatives such as…

PROs: Very easy to do
CONs: Acrobat Pro is expensive and probably not worth the price if this is all you’ll ever use it for.

Third party website
Probably the easiest way is to use a web site such as pdf2png.com. Whilst I’m sure they’re a reputable site and we’ve used them successfully in the past, its always worth thinking twice before uploading anything that may be confidential to a third party site.

PROs: Also very easy
CONs: Can be slow if you need to upload a big pdf. Think about security.

ImageMagick
If you’re comfortable on the command line then you can use ImageMagick to do the heavy lifting. If you don’t have it installed already then we recommend using the installer from Cactus Labs.

Once you have ImageMagick installed, you can fire up the Terminal and use a command like:

convert ~/Desktop/myfile.pdf ~/Desktop/myfile.png

…and ImageMagick should do the rest, including sequentially naming the files. Don’t forget to change the paths to the documents to your own!

PROs: Completely free. Also ImageMagick has lots of other uses if you work with graphics. It’s worth having in your arsenal! For extra credit, you can even get ImageMagick working through Apple’s Automator to build your own custom workflow.
CONs: You need to be reasonably comfortable with using the Terminal.

There are plenty of other ways, but these are the ones that work best in our experience. Let us know if you’ve found any better ways!

While we have your attention… why not check out our macOS apps?

Barcode Basics – macOS barcode generator (including Automator support)
Ai Actions – Automator action pack for Adobe Illustrator
Pages Automator Actions – Automator action pack for Pages

03 May

Automating HTML to PDF conversion on OS X

Ever wondered how to convert a big batch of html files into PDFs?

Well, you *could* open each html file in the web browser of your choice and save/print it as a PDF. However, that’s going to take a long time for a big batch. One fun way you can do it in macOS is by creating an Automator service to do the donkey work for you. Let’s take a look at how to do that.

First, launch Automator (you’ll find it in your Mac’s Applications folder) and create a Service document (NB. Click any of the screen shots here to enlarge them).

Create Automator Service

Next, set the services input options as shown below.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 14.09.55

Next drag in a Run Shell Script action. Make sure you set it’s “Pass input” option to “as arguments” – that’s important! This lets us pass the files we select as an input to the shell script.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 14.10.33

Change it’s contents to:

for theFileToProcess in "$@"
do
cupsfilter "$theFileToProcess" > "${theFileToProcess%.*}.pdf"
done

And save it as “HTML 2 PDF”, or whatever makes sense to you. Now it should look like this:

Run Shell Script options

Now, if you select a one (or more!) HTML files in in Finder whilst holding your control key down, you should be able to find the service you just created under “Services”. as shown below. Select it and you’ll run the shell script on all the files you selected!

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 14.13.29

Note that this will work best on fairly simple html – if you have heaps of JavaScript, movies etc in your html then the PDFs may not be great. However, its a handy quick way of taking some of the pain out of converting html to pdf.

While we have your attention… why not check out our macOS apps?

Barcode Basics – macOS barcode generator (including Automator support)
Ai Actions – Automator action pack for Adobe Illustrator
Pages Automator Actions – Automator action pack for Pages

07 Nov

We’re launching Priority Support Subscriptions!

All users get free support for Ghostotter products. However, we understand that our software is business-critical for some users and they need a faster support response than other users.

If that sounds like you then you might want to consider purchasing a priority support subscription (PSS). A PSS enhances the support options for your product with the following benefits:

A faster response
We always try to respond to support requests as quickly as possible. However, some users need a super-fast response. With a PSS, we will respond to your support request within 1 working day. (Normal response time is within 3 days).

A dedicated support contact
You will have a dedicated member of the Ghostotter development team who will be your first point of contact should you need help. NB. Contact will be via email and in English.

Priority support
Support requests from users with a PSS will be dealt with ahead of other support requests.

Priority development requests
Development requests (e.g. new feature requests) from users with a PSS will be prioritised ahead of other development requests. Be aware that not all development requests will be accepted.

More Info

31 Jul

Custom screenshots app on macOS

Recently, a macOS user asked for a recommendation for an app which would take a screen shot and save it in a folder, with a name based on the current time in a particular format – they didn’t like the macOS default naming.

Rather than recommend an app, we showed them how to make their own using Automator. Here’s how to do it:

First, open up Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities) and type:

pwd

…then return. It should give you a path that looks something like:

/Users/YourUserName/

If you add “Desktop” to the end of that then you have the path to your desktop. So, it should be something like:

/Users/YourUserName/Desktop/

Don’t forget the slash on the end.

Right! That was the hard bit. Next, replace the XXX in my line below with your desktop path:

theDate=$(date "+%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S"); theSaveFolder="XXX"; screencapture -i -o "$theSaveFolder/$theDate.png"

Next, fire up Automator (in your Applications folder). Make a document of type “Application”. Then all you need to drag a “run shell script” action from the side bar into the main panel and replace the default text with the line above.

You should now have something that looks like this (click for a larger view):

Save your work, and you now have a shiny new app which will take screen shots and name them with a timestamp whenever you click it. Of course, you can play around with the time stamp format if you like. There’s a guide to the UNIX date command (which is what we’re using) here https://ss64.com/bash/date.html

For more cool ideas with Automator, why not check out:


06 Jun

Build your own PDF exporting droplet for Pages

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to use our Pages Automator Actions to create a PDF exporting droplet for Apple’s Pages word processing app. If you want to follow along, you’ll need a copy of Pages, Automator (in the apps folder of all fairly recent Macs) and a copy of Pages Automator Actions.

If you’ve not used Pages Automator Actions before, you’ll need to open it from your Applications folder so it can add its actions to Automator. Once you’ve done that, you can close it and you’ll never need to open it again.

Create a new app

Open Automator (you’ll find it in your Applications folder), create a new document and select “Application” in the menu that appears.

Add the actions

Select “Pages” from the left hand section of the window and drag the actions in as shown in the screen shot below. Note that “All documents” is selected in all of them – don’t forget that!

The first action will make our app open any of the documents dropped on it in Pages. The second will export all open documents as PDF files. The PDFs will be in the same location as the Pages files used to create them – with a .pdf file extension, of course!

Save your app

Save the app somewhere you’ll be able to find it, e.g. your desktop. Make sure the File Format is set to “Application”. Once you’ve saved your app, you will be able to drop one or more PDFs on it and they’ll be automatically turned into PDFs!

Note: There was a bug in some earlier versions of Pages which might have given a permissions related error when doing this. If you have errors, make sure you’re running the latest version of Pages.

And there’s more…

Automator actions for Pages has actions for exporting PDFs, Word, RTF and more handy actions to help you create cool apps, workflows and services.

Why not get your copy today and start automating Pages the easy way, for only $14.99*

* or near local currency equivalent

05 Jun

New! Automator actions for Pages

We’re pleased to announce a new tool to help you automate Apple’s Pages app using Automator workflows. Pages Automator Actions allows you to create workflows, apps, droplets and services to make those repetitive, time consuming tasks go like a breeze.

Whether it’s batch exporting documents to ePubs or PDFs, or finding and replacing text in the body text of a collection of documents, the handy actions can save you time and effort.

Of course, since Pages Automator Actions works with Automator, no knowledge of AppleScript or any other type of coding is necessary. If you can drag and drop then that’s all you need to know.

Included actions are:

• Open document(s)
• Close document(s)
• Export as ePub
• Export as PDF (with optional password protection)
• Export as formatted text (rtf)
• Export as unformatted text (txt)
• Export as MS Word (doc)
• Find and replace text (body text of word processing documents only)
• Make new document
• Save document(s)

Why not get your copy today and start automating Pages the easy way, for only $12.50*

* or near local currency equivalent

25 May

Illustrator Automator Actions: Demo Available

Illustrator Automator Actions

Good news! We’ve made a trial version of Ai Actions available for download so you can give it a test drive before buying. Ai Actions gives you a set of handy Illustrator Automator Actions which you can use to create your own workflows and even apps to automate your work. And the best thing is that you don’t need to write a line of code! If you can drag and drop, you can create a workflow.

NB. The demo version contains 4 sample actions. The full version contains 18 actions.

Click here to download demo

Less donkey work, more creativity!

Lets imagine you have a hundred Illustrator artworks and you need to open each, delete any empty text frames, convert all the text to outlines and save as a JPEG and a PDF. Normally you’d have to do that by hand. Using Ai Actions and Automator you can create a workflow to do this automatically saving you heaps of time. And more importantly, letting you concentrate on the creative stuff instead of the boring donkey-work.

A simple Automator workflow using Ai Actions to automate Adobe Illustrator

A simple Automator workflow using Ai Actions to automate Adobe Illustrator

Why use Automator?

The advantage of Automator is that you can use functionality from many other apps in your workflow. So, for example, if you wanted to email the PDFs created by your workflow then you can harness the power of Mail.app to do that for you.

The trial version has only four Automator actions whereas the full version contains 18. There are some tips for getting to grips with Automator here:

Getting to grips with Automator
Creating a simple workflow with Ai Actions

Where can I get the full version?

The full version of Ai Actions is available from the Mac App Store. Get automating today!

Illustrator Actions for Automator, Automator Actions, Automator Illustrator Actions

23 May

Learning Automator

Automator is a really easy way of building workflows, apps, services and hot folders and requires little or no programming knowledge. Once you’ve mastered it, you can automate all sorts of things on your Mac to save you time and remove the drudge work.

Automator is built into every reasonably recent Mac running Mac OS X. However, few people know its there or use it… any they’re missing out! If you’d like to know more then there are some really good tutorials here:

http://www.macosxautomation.com/automator/learn.html

One of the big frustrations for those of us in the design industry is that there are no Automator actions provided with Adobe Illustrator. However, that’s where our app Ai Actions comes in. It provides many actions for Illustrator allowing you to make Automator workflows to automate common artwork tasks.

Check out Ai Actions at the Apple App Store:

Illustrator Actions for Automator, Automator Actions, Automator Illustrator Actions