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Surprisingly, few people use the OS X batch processing and automation app Automator even though it is an easy-to-use and powerful tool. You can just about automate any sequence of events in OS, actions linked to various software, and the presets saved as a “workflow.” It’s like an action in Photoshop, a batch process, but so much more sophisticated than that. It’s even more powerful if you combine the power of Automator with the power of Applescripts, OS X’s native scripting language.

In this article, we will show you four cool things you can do with Automator. Once you have done these, perhaps you’ll start to experiment yourself and use it more often to automate your frequently used processes.

1. Word Count

Curiously, not many apps have a built-in word count, which is odd as with a lot of situations you have a limited amount of words, or worse still characters, that you can use for your text. You would think more apps would have this feature, but since they don’t, let’s add it with Automator.

Open Automator and choose to create a Service workflow.

Add a “Run Applescript” action, leave the “Output replaces selected text” box unchecked, and type or cut and paste the following script into the action:

on run


input, parameters



theWords to count words of









“There are

" & theWords & "



this selection.

" as string)

Some apps don’t recognise the text is selected for various reasons, but many apps will. If they do, you will get something like the following output:

2. Make Desktop NASA Image of the Day

The desktop image settings you have will remain, so set the image to cycle through all the images in your new directory every thirty minutes for a background slideshow.

Do as you did just now and open Automator, but this time choose to create an Application workflow.

Add a “Get Specified URLs” action and give it the URL:

Next drag in a “Get Image URLs From Articles” action and select “linked from the articles” from the drop-down.

And finally add a “Set Desktop Picture” action.

Save it to the desktop and run it. The folder will fill with fresh NASA pictures and begin cycling through them as you work.

3. Convert Graphics by Dropping Images onto an Icon

This is a really neat one. This creates an icon you can drop files onto and convert them to jpeg, even resize them.

Create an Application workflow.

Drag in a “New Folder” action and type in the name CONVERTED FILES (type a space after the words) and a location for the folder to be created when the app is run from the drop-down.

Use the drop-down on Today’s Date and select anything without / characters in it. This will not be tolerated by the file system.

Add a “Get Folder Contents” action and drag this under the last action. This prepares the file for processing.

Add a “Change Type of Images” action and select JPEG from the dropdown. You can at this point add conversion options, but for now we’ll skip that and save.

Save the Application to your Applications folder, then locate it in the finder and drag it to the Dock.

Now when you run it by dragging any kind of file to it, a folder will be created on the desktop, and a JPEG version of the file will be saved to it.

4. Batch Rename

And finally a trivial but laborious task, renaming multiple files. Obviously this is something that should be approached carefully, but with a bit of clever coding, we can make this job a lot easier than it has been before.

This time create a new Workflow workflow. Yes, there is a workflow called Workflow. This is to create workflows that can be saved for later editing.

Drag these two actions into the workflow: “Get Specified Finder Items,” and “Rename Finder Items.” If they are hard to find, search for them in the window at the top of the list.

Configure it per the above screenshot. Add the files you want to rename to the top window. On the bottom window choose the method you want to use to rename. Choose to rename the files sequentially, add a new name such as “bird pictures” and then place a number after the name in the drop-down menus. Choose to make the numbers all three digits long in case the number creeps over 100.

An example of the file names you will end up with is displayed at the bottom of the action.

Once you’re happy with the naming action, press the play button at the top right of the Automator window, and the actions will run. Before the action, they look like this:

And after, they look like this:


Save it as a Workflow. Now you can load the workflow, run it in Automator and change the files you want to rename each time. If you rename files in exactly the same way each time, then you can perhaps save it as an application.

Phil South

Phil South has been writing about tech subjects for over 30 years. Starting out with Your Sinclair magazine in the 80s, and then MacUser and Computer Shopper. He's designed user interfaces for groundbreaking music software, been the technical editor on film making and visual effects books for Elsevier, and helped create the MTE YouTube Channel. He lives and works in South Wales, UK.

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Python Tips That Could Make Coders’ Lives More Productive?

Use Try and Except Statements

Another lack of utility We see in main conditions is the use of try and except statements, which can be useful in a variety of scenarios. Assume the programmer wanted to continue conducting an execution after a certain condition was met, but they couldn’t because an error message was displayed. The program’s run-time will be ended once the error message is displayed.

We can use a try-and-accept code block to avoid these problems. When the condition is met, the try statement’s code block is executed to produce the intended results within the code lines. However, when the code fails to produce a satisfying result or causes an error, the except statements catch these exceptions.

Save Time Doing the Compiler’s Work

Python is still rarely utilized with static code analysis tools and linters for some reason, maybe due to its dynamic nature and previous status as a “scripting” language.

But these tools are excellent. They can assist in the detection and avoidance of specific bugs and types of issues. They can, for example, detect functional errors like misspelled identifiers or disclose code quality issues like unused variables and imports.

Avoid Fruitless Code-style Discussions

In code reviews, it’s simple for development teams to fall into the habit of saying things like, “We need an extra space character here.” or “Class names must be camel case.”

This kind of “bikeshedding” keeps developers from focusing on the real problems. the ones that demand money upfront and require subsequent maintenance issues.

Pick one of the online Python style guidelines, such as PEP 8 or Google’s Python Style Guide, then set up automated tools to ensure committed work complies with the guide as a quick fix.

Handle Operating System Functionalities

We will use the “os” library module provided by Python programming to manage and perform operations on various directories and obtain the needed files. It provides a portable means to use operating system−dependent functions, allowing them to handle directory structures.

Avoid Working in a Bad Editing Environment

Our productivity decreases when we use tools.  You might be familiar with the experience. Some gadgets are so annoying to use that they drain your motivation and energy.

What’s the most crucial tool you use daily as a developer? It is our code editor. Let’s hope that a big portion of your day is spent writing code. For other engineers, it may be their email client or a team chat app.

We have a variety of editors and IDEs to pick from as Python developers, including Vim, Emacs, PyCharm, Wing IDE, Atom, Eclipse PyDev, Sublime Text, etc.

Over the years, I put a lot of effort into perfecting my editing environment. After experimenting with other editors and IDEs, I finally chose Sublime Text. Its quickness, ease, and stability appeal to me. Simply said, it fits my workflow for programming. And I tried as many different choices as I could before making my decision.

You could make a different decision. I’m trying to say that you need to figure out which tool suits you and your particular needs the best. Try out a few editors to find which one you like most. Your output will appreciate it.

Better Use of Debugging Methods

Once you have a basic understanding of how Python works, it is best to move from a simple text editor like Python IDLE to another popular IDE like Pycharm or Visual Studio Code (with Kite support). These IDEs will assist you in identifying smaller errors or occasionally larger bugs by highlighting the places where the IDE thinks the error may be occurring.

Google the error and look at a website like GitHub or Stack Overflow whenever you are stuck in programming for an extended period. Nearly every frequent bug or error you could run into has probably previously been experienced by someone else, and the helpful community offers several fixes for such common problems.

Programmers can also use several other tools to improve their debugging of Python programs. However, Python has a fantastic built−in tool that you can use to properly debug your Python code.


Once you learn the fundamentals, programming can appear to be a simple task. However, no matter how experienced you get as a coder, you will always run into a problem that requires you to search the internet for a piece of code or more functionality. You can still make the most ridiculous blunders or write your code in the least efficient way to obtain the desired goals. While all of the constraints described above are fine on their own, it is still very useful to adapt to the finest coding practices.

Change File Permissions In Mac Os X

You can instantly change file permissions in Mac OS X without getting your hands dirty in the command line by using the Finder instead. All you need to do is access the “Get Info” panel for the file, folder, or application in question. These instructions demonstrate locating the file permissions manager, and how to adjust privileges for items found in Mac OS.

It’s worth mentioning that you can also use this trick to quickly view current file and folder permissions and ownership details in the Mac OS X Finder. To view permissions, just use the Get Info panel as described below but don’t make any modifications. Mac OS X calls permissions “Privileges”, but they mean the same thing.

How to Change File Permissions on Mac

This is the most user friendly way to view or adjust file permissions in Mac OS X, it works with anything found in the Finder file system, be it a file, binary, application, or a folder. Here’s what you’ll want to do:

Select the file or app in the Finder you want to edit permissions for

At the bottom of the Get Info window, you’ll see “Sharing & Permissions”, select the arrow to drop down the options

Adjust permissions* on a per user basis, the options being: read and write, read only, or no access

When finished, just close out of the Get Info window. The changes to permissions happen immediately as you select items from the privilege option dropdown menus.

Permission Types & Explanations of Limitations

The permissions options are fairly self-descriptive in their naming, but here’s a quick overview in case you’re new to the concepts on a file level:

Read & Write: The user can both read the file, and write to the file (make changes, modify the file, delete it, etc)

Read Only: The user can only read the file, and is therefor unable to make changes to the file

No Access: The user has no access to the file at all, meaning the user can not read the file or write to it

When you’re finished setting the desired permissions and privileges, close the Get Info window and the changes will take effect immediately.

Notice that you can’t make files executable through this the Get Info panels, you’ll still need to pull up the terminal for that.

One of our readers pointed out that you can use Get Info to adjust file permissions on remote files using the Mac OS X built-in FTP client, which is pretty convenient if you’re without a separate FTP app but you’re remotely needing to change privileges on something.

Generally speaking, if you’re not sure what to set, you shouldn’t mess around with file permissions since it can change the way a file or application responds to a given document. This is particularly true with system files and applications, as permissions can mean the difference between some apps working and some not. If you’re digging around because of frequent errors regarding access to files or ownership, try using the Recovery Mode method of repairing user permissions that works with Mac OS X 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, macOS 10.12, 10.11, 10.13, etc, which can usually sort out those problems automatically without any manual modification of files.

You can also modify permissions from the command line using the ‘chmod’ command followed by flags or sequences and a file name, but that’s really a topic for another article.


How To Use Preview To Convert Images In Os X

If you’re a blogger like me, there’ll be many times when you’ll need to convert an image from one format to another. One of the useful tools that most professionals use is Photoshop. The thing is, Photoshop is really expensive, and so are a number of other programs that can perform this function. If you are using Mac, you can easily use the built-in tool – Preview – to convert images. Here’s how.

Most of you might already know of and have used Preview before, but for those who don’t, Preview is Apple’s default utility for viewing images and PDF files on your Mac. One of the options it includes is the ability to export an image to a different file format.

To do this, simply open the image you want to convert in Preview, and follow the steps below:

1. Open up the File menu. From the drop-down menu, choose “Export.”

2. From the “Format” menu select the format you want to convert your image to.

By default, the format window will only include options for JPEG, JPEG-2000, OpenEXR, PDF, PNG (default selection), and TIFF. However, by holding down the “Option” key, it will bring up a number of other formats including GIF, ICNS, Microsoft BMP, Microsoft ICON, Photoshop, SGI, and TGA.

If you want to convert a batch of images together, you won’t want to do it one by one. Instead, to batch convert all of the photos together, follow the steps below:

1. Select all the images you want to convert. To do this, either hold-down “Shift” or “Command” while selecting the photos.

3. Once Preview is open, you’ll note that all the images will be shown in a list next to the displayed image, similar to the screenshot below:

Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier’s resident Mac tutorial writer. He’s currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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How To Secure Erase Free Space On Mac Drives With Os X El Capitan

Many Mac users running a modern version of OS X El Capitan have noticed the Secure Erase Free Space feature has gone missing from Disk Utility. What the “Erase Free Space” feature did (and still does in prior versions of Mac OS X) was overwrite the free space on a drive to prevent file recovery, adding a layer of security and privacy to file removal, much in the way that Secure Empty Trash performed a similar function of overwriting data after removal.

For those wondering, these features were removed from the modern version of Disk Utility in Mac OS X because they do not work on SSD volumes, which are becoming more commonplace and nearly all Mac laptops ship with them by default now. But not everyone has an SSD drive, and thus some users may still wish to perform a secure erase of free space on their Mac hard disk. To achieve the same secure erase in modern versions of Mac OS X you’ll need to turn to the command line. And yes, this works to erase free space on older versions of Mac OS X too, but since they can do the same task with Disk Utility it’s perhaps a bit less relevant to the prior releases.

How to Secure Erase Free Space on Mac OS X El Capitan Drives via Command Line, Without Disk Utility

Back up your Mac before attempting to use these commands. The command line requires precise syntax and is unforgiving, improper commands could lead to the unintended removal of data you do not want to delete, permanently, as this is a secure erase function. You have been warned, so backup your Mac data first, then proceed at your own risk.

To get started, launch the Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities/) and use the following general syntax, replacing level and drive name as appropriate:

diskutil secureErase freespace (level 0-4) /Volumes/(Drive Name)

(level 0-4) is a number indicating the number of passes to write to the free space, ‘freespace’ indicates you are erasing only the free space and not the entire drive itself – a critically important difference – and (Drive Name) is self explanatory. Users can also choose the disk identifier if desired. If you aren’t sure of the name of the drive, using diskutil list will show you all mounted drives and partitions. If the drive in question has a space in the name, you should place it in quotes or escape it with backslashes.

For example, to perform a secure erase with 35 passes on free space on a drive named “Macintosh HD” you could use the following command string:

diskutil secureErase freespace 3 "/Volumes/Macintosh HD"

Hitting return will instantly begin the secure erase of any free space. This is irreversible, so as we’ve mentioned a dozen times already, be sure the syntax is exact.

verbs. Ownership of the affected disk is required.

Level should be one of the following:

o 0 – Single-pass zero-fill erase.

o 1 – Single-pass random-fill erase.

o 2 – US DoD 7-pass secure erase.

o 3 – Gutmann algorithm 35-pass secure erase.

o 4 – US DoE algorithm 3-pass secure erase.

That’s all there is to it, and this is how you can continue to erase free disk space on a Mac running OS X El Capitan or later with the newly limited Disk Utility. Another option is to use an old version of Disk Utility in modern versions of Mac OS X, either from a boot drive or recovery mode, of an older Mac OS release, or with the application itself, but that is generally not recommended.

And yes, this works on both standard hard disk drives with spinning platters, and modern SSD disks, though with an SSD drive the feature is less relevant as TRIM / garbage collection should handle the file removal on it’s own. For SSD volumes, a better option is to enable and use FileVault disk encryption on the Mac, which encrypts data on the drive making it unrecoverable without the FileVault key, thus obviating the need to securely erase free space on the volume.


Expand Google Chrome Horizontally In Mac Os X

Note: this only applies to Google Chrome in Mac OS X. It will not work for any other application.


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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