Creating Media Browsers

Have you ever needed quick access to your favorite movies and images? Tired of digging through folders to find the movies you're looking for? Don't want to launch iPhoto whenever you need an image? Help is here. Using Automator, you can create workflows that put media browsing and management where you need it -- at your cursor.

Movie Browser Tools

Locating a specific movie or movies can be a time consuming process of searching through folders and watching small previews in Finder windows. However, it's easy to create Automator workflows that make browsing and using movie files a breeze.

The first movie browser workflow is a simple one-action workflow for quickly browsing movie files selected in the Finder. Create a new workflow in Automator and select the Safari action group from the Library list on the left side of the workflow window. Drag the Browse Movies action in the Action List into the workflow area to add it to the workflow.

Next, choose Save As Plugin... from the Automator File menu and in the forthcoming sheet, choose Finder as the plugin type and name the workflow Browse Selected Movies.

In the Finder, select the movie files to browse, activate the Finder contextual menu using the selection, and choose the workflow from the Automator sub-menu in the contextual menu.

When the workflow has completed, a new page will be opened in the Safari application. The page will be composed of two areas: a list of links to the selected movies, and the currently chosen movie on the right. You can use both the links and the arrow buttons to quickly navigate and play any of the movies.

If you've installed the Movie Browser Tools (located at the top right of this page) you can perform actions with the currently showing movie. Select any action from the Movie Browser Actions sub-menu in the Script Menu while Safari is the frontmost application.

The next movie browser workflow harnesses the power of the Spotlight search architecture in Mac OS X to locate and view movies based on embedded metadata such as their filenames, titles, and copyright information.

In a new Automator workflow window, add the Spotlight action in the Spotlight library group to the workflow. Follow this action with the Browse Movies action from the Safari library group.

The Spotlight action uses the same search architecture as the Spotlight menu. To limit the search to just for movie files, enter kind:movie in the input field in the top right of the Spotlight action view. As with the Spotlight menu, this key pairing will tell the search architecture to locate only movie files.

To enable this action view to display when the workflow is run, click the Options disclosure triangle at the bottom of the Spotlight action view and select the option to Show Action When Run.

Save the workflow by selecting the Save As Plugin... menu item from the File menu. In the forthcoming sheet, choose the Script Menu plugin option and name the workflow Find & Browse Movies.

To initiate a movie search, select the Find & Browse Movies item from the Script Menu and the action view will appear displaying a list of the movies on your computer. You can refine the search using any of the standard Spotlight controls on the right side of the action view. Additionally you can further focus the search criteria by entering additional search terms after the kind:movie identifer

After you've refined the search parameters, click the Continue button to display the found movies in the same type of browser page as the first workflow. As before, you can use the action scripts to mainpulate the showing movie file.

iPhoto Library Browser

The following two-action workflow will give you access to your iPhoto images from within any application, without having to launch iPhoto first.

In a new Automator workflow window, select the iPhoto action group from the Library list. Drag the Ask for Photos action from the Actions list into the workflow area.

Select the Preview action group in the Library list and drag the Open Images in Preview action from the Actions list to the end of the workflow.

Save the workflow by selecting Save As Plugin... from the File menu. Select the Script Menu from the plugin option poup menu and enter Browse iPhoto Library in the name text input field.

You can access the workflow at any time, by selecting Browse iPhoto Library from the Script Menu. When the workflow is run, a media picker dialog will appear displaying the contents of your iPhoto library. You can select and drag images from this dialog into other applications or the desktop. If you want to also open the selected images in Preview, click the Choose button, otherwise click the Cancel button to stop the workflow once you're finished.