Workflow that combines Dropbox and Automator

This workflow is something I came up to allow my clients to resize their images quickly and easily it combines Dropbox and Automator. Computers were designed to make our lives easier by doing simple repetitive tasks easily and quickly, so lets make them do what they do best.

The client requirement

I have a client who I built a simple website for, they occasionally write blog posts and these blog posts have contributed images from various sources. Most of the images are JPEGs straight out of camera, i.e. way too big. They needed to be able to resize the pictures they receive to a size suitable for the website as there is no point uploading 20MP images when less than 1000 pixels wide images are needed. The client has an old Windows computer and to get them to install a program and teach them how to use it would be more complicated than time saving for them.

The solution

I’ll resize the pictures for the client, but make it quick and seamless for them and me.

Resize with Automator

automatorI can resize images quickly for my blog using Automator, I do love this feature of the Mac OS and have written about it several times. These two posts are valuable background reading.

Transfer the pictures using Dropbox

DropboxI had previously set up a shared dropbox folder so that files for the website build could be easily exchanged. I made two new folders BIG PICTURES and WEB SIZE PICTURES in the shared folder, the client could then see them on their computer. The instructions for the client are simple, put the big pictures you have to resize in the BIG PICTURES folder and after a few minutes then you will find the files have been resized and placed in the WEB SIZE PICTURES folder.

This process is simple for the client; they put big pictures in one folder and minutes later get web-sized pictures in the other folder.

How it works – Automator folder action

I wrote a simple Automator folder action on my Mac, it looks for new files in the shared folder and then resizes them and puts them back in the web size pictures folder which then syncs back automatically to the client thanks to dropbox. Often I’m not even aware of the process running on the Mac Mini that it is set-up on.

Here’s the complete Automator folder action I created… I also added a step to append -web to the end of each filename so the client can know they are using the smaller size images to upload to the web.

Automator folder action to resize pictures

 

Of course you can easily add steps; you might choose to remove the big pictures once they have been resized to avoid dropbox filling up.

Notes:

You need a Mac to run Automator, and it needs to be running whenever the client wants to resize images. Your client who puts the images in the dropbox folder doesn’t need any specific computer or software as long as they have dropbox installed.

If you’d like to try this and haven’t yet got a dropbox account then click on DROPBOX to create your own free account. You will get extra space if you use my link, and so will I 🙂