How To Convert Text To Audio Using Automator On OS X

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’d know we’re big fans using tools that’ll save us time or effort, however small it may be. After all, computers are the best at doing manual, repetitive work and doing it much better than humans would do.

OS X has a lot of little tools and utilities to help us save time and one of my favorite tools for automating any kind of workflow is Automator. We’ve written about this earlier and we’re back with another nifty trick up Automator’s sleeves.

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How To Combine PDFs Using Automator

Automator - LogoAutomator is one of my favorite applications on OS X. Wait … scratch that ! It is my favorite automation tool. Period.

Now, there are automation tools available for all consumer operating systems but as far as I know there isn’t any that makes automating tasks as easy as Automator. It’s really a pity that the drag and drop convenience that it brings to Automation, only works on OS X.

Coming back to the topic of this post, I’ll be teaching you how to automate a task that is fairly easy and simple to do manually, but takes more “clicks” and effort. Exactly the kind of task that you’d like to automate – Combining PDF files.

Suppose you have two PDF files that you want to combine into one file. One way is to open the first file in Preview and then select and drag the second file into the sidebar pane. This is fine for one file but quickly becomes a pain if there are more than two files that you want to combine.

This is where Automator comes in. We’ll create a service using Automator that lets us combine PDF files with a single click.

First of all launch Automator and select the Service template.

Automator

Since, we’re only interested in working with PDF files, make the following selections from the drop down at the top of the workflow window. This will ensure that our context sensitive service is only active when we select PDF files in the Finder application.

Automator - Select PDF Files

The next step is to drag in some Automator actions to our workflow. Search for the action named “Combine PDF Pages” in the left side pane and drag it to the main workflow window.

Automator - Combine PDF Pages

That is essentially all that we want to do. At this point, we have a service that will let you select multiple PDF files in Finder and then combine them all by appending pages and create a single PDF file out of them. But, we still don’t know where that new file will be saved. Automator will, by default, save the file in some esoteric system location but that is not what we want. Let’s drag the action named “Move Finder Items” to the workflow.

Automator - Move Finder Items

The default select of moving items to the Desktop should be fine, unless you want to move the newly create file to another folder.

Save the workflow and give it a nice descriptive name. You can quit Automator now.

Now, whenever you want to combine PDF files, just select them in Finder, right click and choose the service that we just created.

Automator - right click

OS X will now combine the two (or more) PDF files and create a new file on the desktop.

Are there any other cool Automator actions that you guys want to know more about ? Have you guys any other cool actions in the past ? Let me know in the comments.

[Mac] How To use Automator to Test your Website’s iPhone version

Automator - LogoBefore the iPhone came, only the largest websites had a separate version exclusively for mobile visitors which was usually based on WAP. And since there weren’t too many mobile visitors anyway, a lot of site owners just didn’t bother with creating a lighter version of their websites. The mobile web was a mess and those of us (un)fortunate enough to have meddled with it back then were a bruised lot !

The iPhone definitely changed the mobile web landscape for the better.¬†The ¬†iPhone’s browser was probably the first mobile browser that could actually display regular websites almost as well as desktop based browsers.

But, the consumers wanted even more. They weren’t happy with pinching, zooming and double tapping their way around to navigate a website and wanted all websites to have a version for the iPhone.

So, let’s say you have made the decision to build an iPhone version of your website, coded it all up and now want a way to test your new iPhone optimized site. What are your options ?

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