Do you spend time resizing images for reports, documents or the web? Here’s an easy Automator application you can make in a few minutes to make this process simpler.
What is Automator?
Automator is a fantastic free application you already have on your Mac.
You can use it to create automated workflows, applications and other tools on your computer.
The problem with Automator is it’s not always obvious what you need to do in order to create something, and this is why most Mac users open the application, but spend only a very short time working in it.
How to make a useful image tool
While being able to resize images is useful, it may also be useful to build a lightweight app to perform other image editing operations.
You can do this with Automator, which calls up all the power of your Mac’s built-in imaging tools.
Just follow these 10 steps:
#1: Open Automator
Tap Command-Space and begin to type Automator. When the app appears as a selection, tap Return to open it.
#2: Choose New Document
The Automator window will open up. Tap New Document at bottom left of the window.
#3: Choose Application
The next window lets you define what kind of Automator action you want to create. In this case we’ll create an application. Don’t forget that once you build your Automator application you will be able to share it with others and use it on other Macs.
#4: Select Photos
The Automator creation window will open. In the left-hand column under the word ‘Library’ select Photos.
#5: Choose the filter
Now in the second column choose the ‘Apply Quartz Composition Filter to Image files’ action. Drag and drop this into the large Automator composition window at the right side of the window.
#6: Tap Add
An alert window should appear. It warns that: “This action will change the image files passed into it. Would you like to add a Copy Finder items action so that the copies are changed and your originals are preserved?” You should tap Add(in blue). That way any image you pop into the application will be copied and changed, leaving the original image intact.
#7: Set the default task
You will now see a ‘Copy Finder Items’ task sits above the ‘Apply Quartz Composition Filter to Image files’ workflow in the Automator app creation window.
Just beneath the large image in that you see in that Quartz filter you’ll find a drop-down menu. Tap it and you’ll find a host of options, all of which you can apply on an image from within your app.
You can also set a default task, in this case I suggest Image Resizer, as that’s very likely to be your most frequent task.
#8: Set default actions
When you choose Image Resizer you’ll see four more configurable actions to the right of the big Quartz Composition image: Target Width, Target Height, Mode and Background Color.
I find that when saving images for web, the following settings work well:
- Target Width: 1200.
- Target Height: 800.
- Mode: Fill and Crop (the application always works from the center of the image so the main image content is usually safe).
- Background Color: I tend to select white., but you can choose a color that fits your website design.
Don’t forget, you can choose different options and image editing operations when you use the app, but these make for good default settings.
#9: Make the application visible
Under each of the two items that make up your app you will see the word Options. Tap both of these and then check ‘Show this action when the workflow runs’. This important step turns the application into something you can interact with in use.
#10: Save the application
You’ve created the app. Navigate to the File menu, tap Save…, give your application a name and choose where to save it too. Make sure to keep the File Format as Application.
How to use the application
This is so easy to use.
When you want to apply an image effect to an image, or need to resize it, just drag-&-drop it to the app. You’ll be asked where you want to copy the original image to and given the chance to replace that existing file.
When you hit Continue the Apply Quartz Composition Filter to Image files window will appear, with your default options set to use immediately.
Tap Continue to apply those, or select a different set of parameters (including different imaging effects) if you want to apply different editing tools.
Once you are satisfied the application is doing what you want, tap Continue.
(Yes, that’s rather a lot of Continues, and I’d quite like to be able to rename those, but can’t).
The resized/edited image will be visible on your Desktop, or in another folder if you have chosen this.
You can keep this application in your Applications menu, drag it to your Dock for easier access, or leave it on your Desktop. If you frequently edit images for the web, I think this little Automator application will save you lots of time. (Here’s another useful Automator tip for researchers).
You can also use Automator to create actions which are made available using your contextual menu (Ctrl-click), as Services or can be set as shortcuts for access via your Mac’s Touch Bar. Here is a short guide (and some useful actions) to doing so.