How to edit images with Automator


How to edit images with Automator
Mac Tip #414, 09 December 2009

You can’t beat dedicated image editing software such as Photoshop, but your Mac has a lot of image editing power built-in. Leopard and Snow Leopard, in particular can manipulate images in many ways. Here’s how to access that power with Automator.

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Drag images to Automator

Open an Automator window and drag in images you want to work with. The images are displayed in a Get Selected Images panel in the Workflow.

Select a folder to save to

At the bottom of the Get Selected Finder Items panel is a drop-down menu that allows you to select a folder where the edited images will be saved. Check that the correct folder is selected.

Automator actions in the workflow.

Automator actions in the workflow.

Select actions

Automator includes many actions that can operate on images, or all kinds of other files.

Software you install also sometimes adds actions to Automator. The full list of available actions depends on what software you’ve installed.

Select the Photos part of the Actions Library to see which actions can be applied to photos.

Then drag an Apply Quartz Composition Filter to Images Files action to the workflow. These Quartz Filters are built in to recent versions of the Mac Operating System.

Duplicate the original files

Because you will be making changes to the images with these actions, Automator offers to add a step that duplicates your image files. It’s sensible to agree to that, so that if you don’t like the changes the workflow makes you can trash the copies and start fresh with the originals.

Select a Quartz Composition Filter action

The Quartz Composition Filter has many possible actions, such as Color correction or Contrast. Choose the specific action to apply to the selected images and use the sliders and other controls to adjust the behaviours.

Add more Quartz Filters if you wish to apply further corrections.

Run the Automator workflow

Once you’ve added all the actions you need, choose Run from theWorkflow menu.

Automator alert.

Automator alert.

Automator may display an alert. Read the message and then click OK.

Automator carries out all the actions, including duplicating the images (if you agreed to that) and saves the edited images in the location you chose in the first step.

Open and check the images

Once Automator has finished its work open and check the edited images. If you don’t like the results trash the images, finetune the actions in the Automator workflow and run the Workflow again.

Save the workflow

If you want to use this same set of actions again in the future, remember to Save the Workflow.

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3 Comments

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      If you have a small size image then when you enlarge it and print it you’re likely to get a mess. I guess you could try Photoshop, but the results are likely to be very disappointing.

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