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Automator workflow of the month: April Fools' Day pranks

Christopher Breen | April 1, 2013
As I've outlined over the many years we've produced these Automator tips, this fine utility can be used in powerful ways to make your work easier. However, in the hands of the office prankster it can also be used as a useful tool on the first day of April.

As you did with the Windows desktop image, click on the image to see it full size, and then drag it to your desktop to copy it. (If that doesn't work, Control-click, or right-click, on the original image in this story and select Open Link In Window. Drag and click from there.) Open the image in Preview and press Command-A to select its contents and Command-C to copy them. Now select the Trash workflow you just saved to your desktop and press Command-I to bring up its Info window. Click on the icon in the top-left corner and press Command-V. The image of the trash will now become the workflow's icon. Place the file in the bottom right corner of the Mac's display.

When your victim drags a file to it--thinking it's the Trash--the application will do it job and cause the file to plead for its life by changing its name and refusing to go into this alleged trash.

(There's a practical use for a modified version of this workflow. Instead of using the Rename Finder Items action in the workflow, drag in Move Finder Items to Trash instead. Perform the same trick of assigning the trash image to its icon and place it where OS 9's Trash icon once resided. Now, when you want to work old-school, just drag unwanted files to this icon and they'll be moved to the Trash.)

To undo what you've done: Toss the workflow into the real Trash.


This last workflow requires a little subterfuge as well. Start by creating a new folder on the desktop and name it Macintosh HD. If no hard drive icon appears on your desktop, move to the Finder, choose Finder > Preferences and in the General tab enable the Hard disks option so that the Mac's hard drive icon appears on the desktop. Select that hard drive, press Command-I to produce its Info window, click on the icon in the top left, and then press Command-C to copy its icon to the clipboard. Select the folder you just created, press Command-I, select its icon, and press Command-V to paste the contents of the clipboard. Return to the Finder Preferences window and disable the Hard Disks option so that the Mac's real hard disk icon is hidden.

Create a new workflow and from the template sheet choose Folder Action. At the top of the workflow window drag your Macintosh HD folder to the Folder Action Requires Files and Folders Added To pop-up menu so that the folder you created becomes the target of the workflow.

From the Files & Folders library drag the following three actions (in order) to the workflow area: Get Specified Finder Items, Get Folder Contents, and Move Finder Items. Into the first action drag the Macintosh HD folder you created. In the Move Finder Items action choose Desktop from the To pop-up menu. Save your workflow.


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