Posts RSS Comments RSS 48 Posts and 155 Comments till now

Archive for the 'Scripts' Category

Quick Applescript to check your Mac for the Flashback infection

There is lots of media exposure on the possibility that multiple Macs may be infected by a trojan called “Flashback“. This involves a vulnerability in Java that malicious websites can exploit.

If you have Java on your Mac you need to make sure you have updated to the latest Java update from Apple to patch this issue. The easiest way is to just run Software Update on your Mac and get the latest updates from Apple. You can download them manually as well from Apple:

If you are concerned that you might already be infected F-Secure has some excellent instructions on how to find out here. The Applescript below will run the commands referenced in the F-Secure article to do a quick and dirty check. If everything comes back clean it will tell you. If it comes back as possibly infected it will direct you (or your user) to the website for more detailed information.

I’m posting it as a script file for download here:
Flashback Checker Script

Or you can copy the code from here and paste it into AppleScript Editor to run:

--see if this entry exists.  If not an error will occur and be trapped
try
	do shell script "defaults read /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info  LSEnvironment"
	--set this variable if this entry exists
	set LSE to "true"
on error errmsg
	--set this variable if the error contains the message "does not exist"
	if errmsg contains "does not exist" then
		set LSE to "false"
	end if
end try
--search Firefox for infections
try
	do shell script "defaults read /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/Info  LSEnvironment"
	--set this variable if this entry exists
	set FLSE to "true"
on error errmsg
	--set this variable if the error contains the message "does not exist"
	if errmsg contains "does not exist" then
		set FLSE to "false"
	end if
end try
--see if this entry exists.  If not an error will occur and be trapped
try
	do shell script "defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES"
	set DLib to "true"
on error errmsg
	--set this variable if the error contains the message "does not exist"
	if errmsg contains "does not exist" then
		set DLib to "false"
	end if
end try
--if all variables are false then the machine isn't infected
if LSE is "false" and DLib is "false" and FLSE is "false" then
	display dialog "You are not infected with Flashback"
	--if any variable is true the machine may be infected and needs closer inspection
else if LSE is "true" or DLib is "true" or FLSE is "true" then
	display dialog "You may have the Flashback infection" & return & "Go to following URL for more information:" & return & return & "http://www.f-secure.com/v-descs/trojan-downloader_osx_flashback_i.shtml"
end if

Creating local snapshots in Time Machine in Lion 10.7

With the release of Lion Apple has added a new, somewhat hidden, ability to Time Machine. The ability to do local snapshots. Basically, when you are away from your Time Machine disc and have this enabled Lion will create your hourly snapshots locally instead of on your backup drive. Once you re-connect the drive it will move them over to your drive and wipe them off the local disc.

This is a great service for laptop users. Now you can have those hourly snapshots created no matter where you are. So, if you make some changes to a document while you’re away those changes will still be added to your Time Machine backup.

To enable these local snapshots you have use the new command-line tool for Time Machine named tmutil.

To enable local snapshots:

sudo tmutil enablelocal

To disable them AND clear all the local snapshots:

sudo tmutil disablelocal

You can confirm that you’ve enabled local snapshots by opening System Preferences > Time Machine and looking for the line circled in the image.

Local Time Machine Snapshots

The tmutil utility has a bunch of other useful commands that allow you to enable or disable backups, start and stop backups, choose a new disk, etc. Type man tmutil to see the whole list. I can see this tool being used by lots of system administrators in scripts.

Apple also has a nice KB article explaining this feature here

Viewing or hiding hidden files in the Finder using AppleScript

Mac OS X has a lot of files that are hidden from view in the Finder. They are hidden for a very good reason, which is most of them are system files that you don’t need to mess with if you want your computer to keep working well. However, there are occasions where it would nice to be able to view these files in the Finder.

This script lets you toggle the view on and off. So, you can turn it on, do what you need and then turn it off.

try
	set toggleView to (do shell script "defaults read com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles")
on error
	set toggleView to "NO"
end try
if toggleView is "NO" or toggleView is "0" then
	set br to display dialog "Showing hidden files is disabled." & return & "Would you like to enable it?" buttons {"Yes", "No"} default button {"No"}
	set theAnswer to the button returned of br
	if theAnswer is "Yes" then
		do shell script "defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES"
		do shell script "killall Finder"
		display dialog "Showing hidden files has been enabled" buttons {"Ok"} giving up after 5
	end if
else
	if toggleView is "YES" or toggleView is "1" then
		set br to display dialog "Showing hidden files is enabled." & return & "Would you like to disable it?" buttons {"Yes", "No"} default button {"Yes"}
		set theAnswer to the button returned of br
		if theAnswer is "Yes" then
			do shell script "defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles NO"
			do shell script "killall Finder"
			display dialog "Showing hidden files has been disabled" buttons {"Ok"} giving up after 5
		end if
	end if
end if

Copy the code into AppleScript Editor and then save it out as an application. Double clicking on it will bring up a dialog box telling you the current state of viewing hidden files and gives you the option of switching it. Since you have to restart the Finder after you make this change you’ll see the Finder quit and restart.

Opening a FaceTime connection via AppleScript/Automator

The new FaceTime video chat beta is now available from Apple. It allows you to video chat with anyone using that app on any Mac running the service as well as an iPhone 4 or the latest iPod running iOS 4 or better. It’s extremely easy and I can see a lot of great uses for it.

One of the very cool things about it is that you can use a URL to initiate a FaceTime call. As described in this Mac OS X Hints article just use the following syntax:

  • facetime://appleid
  • facetime://email@address
  • facetime://phone# as a URL in Safari’s address bar.

Since you can use a URL that means you can use AppleScript to connect to a session or Automator to even schedule and initiate a call using iCal Alarms.

The only line you need is this:

open location "facetime://joe@emailaddress.com"

Obviously you can use any of the URL syntaxes listed above in place of the email address. Save it as a script/application/workflow and you’re ready to chat!

How to back up Address Book automatically

For quite a while now you’ve been able to manually backup your entire Address Book. This has saved many people massive heartache when they’ve had their machines go down/did an OS re-install or various other scary things (Yeah, I know, if you have MobileMe you don’t need to do this but most people don’t).

The big issue with backing up this way, as with any backup, is getting people to do it and do it regularly. To backup your Address Book all you need to do it copy the /Users/”user name”/Library/Application Support/AddressBook folder in each users home directory. Simple, direct and easy. But you may have noticed that when you do a manual backup via the Address Book application you get a file with the “.abbu” extension. That’s just the AddressBook folder renamed and getting that extension. The beauty of having this file is when you want to restore your Address Book via the menu you can just point to this file. Otherwise you have to drag the backed up folder to the original spot. Again, not hard to do but some users have problems doing things that go outside of clicking on a menu item.

So, to back up your Address Book and put it in nice “.abbu” file for easy restores just do this:

filedate=`/bin/date "+%m-%d-%y"`
cp -R "/Users/username/Library/Application Support/AddressBook" "/Users/username/Documents/Address Book Backups/Address Book Backup $filedate.abbu"

Obviously you change the “username” section to the name of the home directory. Also, you can change the backup folder to what ever you want. This script just appends the current date to the backup so you can keep multiple backups if needed.

To run this you have a bunch of options:

  1. You can run it via cron or launchd. Just put the two lines together and seperated by a “;”.
  2. You can run it as an Automator iCal plug-in. Just drag over the “Run Shell Script” action and paste in the script. Then schedule it via iCal.
  3. You can save it as a script and run it from what ever automation application you prefer.

Check how much disk space is left using AppleScript

This is a fairly simple one but someone out there may need this. My boss recently had a weird problem where his disk was suddenly filling up. A reboot fixed it but we were having a hard time finding the process that was suddenly eating 15 GB of disk space with no warning. So, I came up with this script that just gets how much free space is left on his disk. We ran it as a cron job every 15 minutes so we could hopefully get some warning before things filled up and became unusable. The script displays a warning when the disk has 5% or less of free space. You can edit it for your own uses. It also has the ability to email the report to you. Comment out the section you don’t want to use. To have it send emails when you are not logged in use something like Lingon for a launchd item or Cronnix for a cron job. Save your script in the appropriate location and have the launchd/cron job call it using the “osascript” command. So, if the file was saved in the /Users/Shared folder the line would read:

osascript /Users/Shared/disk_check.scpt

set mysubject to "Disk Usage Report"
set myrecipient to "sysadmin@example.com"
--get the amount of free space
set dSize to (do shell script "df -h / | grep %") as text
--pull out the percent used from the result
set theTotal to word 6 in dSize as number
--if the total used space is 95% or more put up a warning. Comment out if running the email section
if theTotal is greater than or equal to 95 then
	display dialog "Your disk is " & theTotal & "% full"
end if
--comment out this section if no email is desired.
set mybody to ("Free Space: " & theTotal & "%")
do shell script ("echo \"" & mybody & "\" | mail -s \"" & mysubject & "\" " & myrecipient)

Click here to download a copy: Disk Check script

Backing up MySQL databases on an OS X Server

I recently started using the build-in MySQL database server on my Leopard server. I’m collecting user login data in one database and SMB and AFP login information in another. Nothing major but information I wouldn’t really want to lose. I was looking for an easy way to backup these databases when a post on the MacEnterprise mailing list asked the same thing. Several people suggested AutoMySQLBackup, an open source shell script. After checking into it I can say it is an incredibly easy way of backing up all your data. The author has done a great service by posting this script.

The script backups up the databases to the local drive but can also email the backups to you. I wanted them emailed so I could archive them and have them backed up there as well. That way I don’t have to come up with any other scripts to move the backups some where else.

The AutoMySQLBackup script requires that you have Mutt installed if you want to have it email anything. Mutt is an command line email program that does not come pre-installed on OS X. Here are the steps I went through to get everything up and running.

Step 1 – Install Mutt

There are instructions on the Mutt website for installing the program but I wanted something I could easily update without a lot of hassle. I decided to install using MacPorts.

Download and install the latest version of MacPorts. There is excellent documentation on the web page. You’ll need the Apple Developer’s Tools installed before installing MacPorts. If you don’t already have them you can install them from your OS X install disc or download them from the Apple Developer Connection site.

Once MacPorts is installed an running you’re ready to install Mutt. At the time of this writing the default version of Mutt in the MacPorts repository is 1.4.2. I wanted the 1.5.x version as I had read that it was much easier to configure. Check the MacPorts list of available ports before you install. To get the 1.5.x version I had to install the development version.

In Terminal type the following:

sudo port install mutt-devel +smtp +ssl +imap +pop

If you want the standard install of mutt enter this:

sudo port install mutt +smtp +ssl +imap +pop

Then go do something else for a while as it downloads and compiles everything. After a bit you’ll have an install of mutt.

Step 2 – Configure Mutt

With the 1.5.x version of Mutt I only had to make one configuration file. In the home directory root of the account you are running the script from make a “.muttrc” file.

touch .muttrc

Now, use your favorite editor (I prefer pico) and add the address of the SMTP server you plan to use:

set smtp_url="smtp://my.smtp.server.com"

Now try sending an email from Mutt in Terminal and make sure everything is working correctly.

Step 3 – Configuring AutoMySQLBackup

Download AutoMySQLBackup and put it where ever you put your scripts. I changed the permission so that only the account I was running it from had any access.

chmod 700 automysqlbackup.sh

Open the script in your editor of choice. Don’t use Word or other such editors as they will mess up your line returns. Use a command-line editor or a GUI editor like SubEthaEdit that understands UNIX line returns.

The script author has great instructions right in the script so I won’t cover those here. I did, however, have to make two changes to the script to get things to work.

First, I had to add in the path to the MacPorts installation in the path variable for the script. That was on line 338.

The original reads:

PATH=/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/local/mysql/bin

Edit it to look like this:

PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/local/mysql/bin

Remember, all the MacPorts installations live in /opt/local. Now the script can find Mutt.

The second change I had to make was to the order of items that the script was sending to Mutt. It just didn’t work in 1.5.x as written. This is on line 644 of the script.

The original reads:

mutt -s "$ERRORNOTE MySQL Backup Log and SQL Files for $HOST - $DATE" $BACKUPFILES $MAILADDR < $LOGFILE

I had to switch the order of $BACKUPFILES and $MAILADDR to get it send the file to me. So my edited version looks like this:

mutt -s "$ERRORNOTE MySQL Backup Log and SQL Files for $HOST - $DATE" $MAILADDR $BACKUPFILES < $LOGFILE

After making that switch and running the script it backed up my databases and emailed me the backup files as well. Fantastic!

Schedule your script to run on a nightly basis so you get regular backups of everything. You can either do that via cron or via a launchd item. If you want to use cron and don’t want to do it at the command line I recommend Cronnix. For launchd I recommend Lingon

One last note. When I was trying to troubleshoot why the attachments weren’t being send I couldn’t find the log files that said what was happening. That’s because the automysqlbackup script puts them in the script and then deletes them along with everything else after it mails them. To disable that function I had to comment out these two lines at the very end of the script:

eval rm -f "$LOGFILE"
eval rm -f "$LOGERR"

Once I had things working I uncommented them so things would continue to be cleaned up.

Getting user login data from Macs using AppleScript

A lab we work with recently upgraded to 10.5 and found that the program they were running to get the user login data for their billing wouldn’t work in 10.5 and wasn’t going to be upgrading. In looking at the data it was grabbing it was clear the same data could be gotten using the last command in Terminal. You can see more about last at my post here. However, these folks were not computer-savvy and needed the information in a comma-delimited file. So, I came up with this script.

When you run the script it asks you which month you want the data for in a list. Select the month and it will generate a file on the desktop with that months data. You can save it out as an application, run it from Script Editor or run it as a launchd/cron job. You can customize the output by changing the line that begins with “write”. For example, replace the “,” with tab and create a tab-delimited file instead.

If you run this script logged in as a regular user you will only get the login information for that user. If you run it as an administrator you’ll get the login information for every account on the machine.

Click here to download the script file:
Monthly Login accounting

set the_months to {}
set the_total to 0
set the_time to ""
set the_computer to (computer name of (system info))
--get the raw login log information
set the_login to (do shell script "last") as text
set the_count to the count of paragraphs of the_login
--get the list of all the months login data is available for
repeat with x from 1 to the_count
	if paragraph x of the_login contains "console" then
		set month_check to (word 4 of paragraph x of the_login) as text
		if the_months does not contain month_check then
			set end of the_months to month_check
		end if
	end if
end repeat
set selected_month to choose from list the_months with prompt "Select the month:"
--create the file to write data to
if selected_month is not false then
	tell application "Finder"
		set file_name to (the_computer & "-" & selected_month & "-" & (year of (current date)) & " login stats.txt")
		if not (exists file (((path to desktop from user domain as text) & file_name))) then
			set login_file to make file with properties {name:file_name, file type:"TEXT"} at (path to desktop from user domain)
		else
			display dialog "This stats file already exists.  Do you want to overwrite it?" buttons {"Yes", "No"} default button 2
			set the_answer to the button returned of the result
			if the_answer is "Yes" then
				delete file ((path to desktop from user domain as text) & file_name)
				set login_file to make file with properties {name:file_name, file type:"TEXT"} at (path to desktop from user domain)
			end if
		end if
	end tell
	set login_file to ((path to desktop from user domain) & file_name) as text
end if
--loop through the data and pull out the logins for the selected month
repeat with x from 1 to the_count
	if paragraph x of the_login contains selected_month then
		if paragraph x of the_login contains "console" then
			set the_user to (word 1 of paragraph x of the_login)
			set the_month to (word 4 of paragraph x of the_login) as text
			set the_logmonth to MonthNumber(the_month)
			set the_day to (word 5 of paragraph x of the_login) as text
			if (the (count of characters of the_day) is less than 2) then
				set the_day to ("0" & the_day)
			end if
			set the_year to yearCheck(selected_month, the_months)
			set log_date to (the_logmonth & "/" & the_day & "/" & the_year)
			set login_time to (word 6 of paragraph x of the_login & ":" & word 7 of paragraph x of the_login)
			set logout_time to (word 8 of paragraph x of the_login & ":" & word 9 of paragraph x of the_login)
			set old_delims to AppleScript's text item delimiters
			set AppleScript's text item delimiters to "("
			try
				set the_time1 to text item 2 of paragraph x of the_login
				set AppleScript's text item delimiters to old_delims
				set the_time to (characters 1 through 5 of the_time1) as text
			on error
				set AppleScript's text item delimiters to old_delims
			end try
			--write all the date to the file
			write (the_user & "," & the_computer & "," & log_date & "," & login_time & "," & log_date & "," & logout_time & "," & the_time & return) to file login_file starting at eof
		end if
	end if
end repeat
--if the list contains January see if the selected month comes before or after January.  Adjust the year accordingly.
on yearCheck(selected_month, the_months)
	if the_months contains "Jan" then
		repeat with x from 1 to count of the_months
			if item x of the_list contains selected_month then
				set the_num to x
			else
				if item x of the_list contains "Jan" then
					set jan_num to x
				end if
			end if
		end repeat
		set year_check to (the_num - jan_num)
		if year_check is greater than 0 then
			set the_year to ((year of (current date)) - 1)
		else
			set the_year to (year of (current date))
		end if
	else
		set the_year to (year of (current date))
	end if
	return the_year
end yearCheck
on MonthNumber(the_month)
	if the_month = "Jan" then
		set the_month to "01"
	else
		if the_month = "Feb" then
			set the_month to "02"
		else
			if the_month = "Mar" then
				set the_month to "03"
			else
				if the_month = "Apr" then
					set the_month to "04"
				else
					if the_month = "May" then
						set the_month to "05"
					else
						if the_month = "Jun" then
							set the_month to "06"
						else
							if the_month = "Jul" then
								set the_month to "07"
							else
								if the_month = "Aug" then
									set the_month to "08"
								else
									if the_month = "Sep" then
										set the_month to "09"
									else
										if the_month = "Oct" then
											set the_month to "10"
										else
											if the_month = "Nov" then
												set the_month to "11"
											else
												if the_month = "Dec" then
													set the_month to "12"
												end if
											end if
										end if
									end if
								end if
							end if
						end if
					end if
				end if
			end if
		end if
	end if
	return the_month as string
end MonthNumber

Enabling clear text passwords in Snow Leopard with AppleScript

Update: It appears that clear text passwords for AFP connections only work when booted into 32 bit mode. I’ve updated the script to check for which kernel the user is booted into. If they are running 64 bit it asks them if they want to switch to 32 bit. If they say “Yes” then it makes the switch and reboots the machine for them.

A nice article explaining how to see if you are running in 32 or 64 bit mode is here at MacObserver.

There is an Apple Knowledge base article dealing with servers but with good information on switching kernels here.

The procedure for enabling clear text passwords for AFP connections is the same in Snow Leopard as it is in Leopard with one very critical difference. The details about how and why are already in my post on Leopard. If you want the background information you should check out that page. This post will only deal with the Snow Leopard-specific changes.

The big change for enabling clear text passwords for Snow Leopard is that the .plist file is now a binary. This is something Apple has been moving towards since 10.4 and there is a built-in utility that allows you to change the format back and forth to allow for easy editing called “plutil”. The full path to it is “/usr/bin/plutil”

The flag we need to be aware of in “plutil” is the “-convert” flag. There are two formats that we’ll use for this flag, “xml1” and “binary1”.

To convert the plist file to XML to allow editing we have to run the following command:
/usr/bin/plutil -convert xml1 /Users/joe/Library/Preferences/com.Apple.AppleShareClient.plist

This will convert the file to XML for editing. Now we will do the actual editing. This line is the same as in Leopard.
defaults write com.Apple.AppleShareClient afp_cleartext_allow -bool YES

Now that we have edited the file we have to convert it back to binary form. So we use the “plutil” tool again with a different format:
/usr/bin/plutil -convert binary1 /Users/joe/Library/Preferences/com.Apple.AppleShareClient.plist

Now the preference file is converted back to binary and can be used by the AFP client.

Here is an updated version of the Leopard AppleScript for changing this setting.

If you would prefer to download a pre-complied script file click below:
Snow Leopard Clear Text Script

set afp_pref_path to ((POSIX path of (path to preferences from user domain)) & "com.Apple.AppleShareClient.plist")
set OS_version to (do shell script "sw_vers -productVersion")
set kernel_answer to ""
--check if the user is running 32 or 64 bit kernel.
if OS_version contains "10.6" then
	set kernel_version to (do shell script "/usr/sbin/systemsetup -getkernelbootarchitecturesetting")
	if kernel_version contains "x86_64" then
		set kernel_answer to button returned of (display dialog "You are currently running in 64 bit mode.  Clear text passwords only work in 32 bit mode.  Would you like to change to 32 bit mode?  This will require a restart." buttons {"Yes, change it and restart", "No, just enable clear text"} default button 1)
	end if
end if
try
	set clearStatus to (do shell script "defaults read com.Apple.AppleShareClient afp_cleartext_allow") as number
on error
	--the first command will throw an error if the afp_cleartext_allow setting does not exist
	--if there is an error we'll assume that the setting isn't there and set our variable to the disabled setting
	set clearStatus to 0
end try
--a status of "1" means it's enabled.  So ask if they want to disable it
if clearStatus is 1 then
	display dialog "Do you want to disable clear text passwords?" buttons {"Cancel", "Disable"} default button 2
	if the button returned of the result is "Disable" then
		do shell script "/usr/bin/plutil -convert xml1 " & afp_pref_path
		do shell script "defaults write com.Apple.AppleShareClient afp_cleartext_allow -bool NO"
		do shell script "/usr/bin/plutil -convert binary1 " & afp_pref_path
		set clearStatus to (do shell script "defaults read com.Apple.AppleShareClient afp_cleartext_allow") as number
		--check to make sure the change really took effect
		if clearStatus is 0 then
			display dialog "Clear text passwords have been disabled" buttons {"OK"}
		else
			display dialog "There was an error disabling clear text passwords!" buttons {"OK"}
		end if
	end if
else
	display dialog "Do you want to enable clear text passwords?" buttons {"Cancel", "Enable"} default button 2
	if the button returned of the result is "Enable" then
		do shell script "/usr/bin/plutil -convert xml1 " & afp_pref_path
		do shell script "defaults write com.Apple.AppleShareClient afp_cleartext_allow -bool YES"
		do shell script "/usr/bin/plutil -convert binary1 " & afp_pref_path
		set clearStatus to (do shell script "defaults read com.Apple.AppleShareClient afp_cleartext_allow") as number
		--check to make sure the change really took effect
		if clearStatus is 1 then
			display dialog "Clear text passwords have been enabled" buttons {"OK"}
		else
			display dialog "There was an error enabling clear text passwords!" buttons {"OK"}
		end if
	end if
end if
if kernel_answer contains "Yes" then
	do shell script "/usr/sbin/systemsetup -setkernelbootarchitecture i386" with administrator privileges
	do shell script "/sbin/shutdown -r now" with administrator privileges
end if

Recommended AppleScript Books for Beginners

I’ve got several AppleScripts on this site and I get lots of questions about things relating to AppleScript. One of the questions I hear is “Are there any good books about AppleScript, especially for beginners”. Well, the answer is yes and no. I’ll give a few recommendations here that I think will help most beginning AppleScripters and possibly some more advanced ones. There are lots of sites out there as well such a Macscripter.net that also have a wealth of information. I encourage anyone looking into AppleScript to use these sites as well as printed materials.

Having said that I know that I personally benefit from having books around. In some cases it just an easy way to quickly look something up. Most books have examples on how to use either a scripting addition or a vanilla AppleScript command. Having those examples makes it a lot easier for me to figure things out.

Apple Training Series: AppleScript 1-2-3




This book has replaced Danny Goodman’s fantastic but dated AppleScript Handbook (see below) as my recommended book for first time AppleScripters. The first author, Sal Soghoian, has been the AppleScript/Automater Product Manager at Apple for many years. I’ve been to lots of his talks and demos and he always has great examples of things you can do with AppleScript. His examples are fun and useful at the same time. The other author, Bill Cheesman, has been involved in AppleScripting from almost the very beginning and is extremely active in the AppleScript community.

This book assumes you have no knowledge of AppleScript or programming. It starts you out in the first chapter on the basics of writing scripts using AppleScript Editor with some cool one line scripts. From there he takes you through using dictionaries, working with the Finder and the file system.

After you get comfortable with working there you move on to actually learning some programming techniques such as looping and properties. However, Sal and Bill do it in such a conversational way you don’t even realized you’re learning actual programming.

This book contains a ton of useful scripts that can either be used right out of the page or, after doing the examples, can be easily configured for your own needs.

At the end of the book they cover a little bit concerning AppleScript Studio for those who want to move to the next level and create actual applications using only AppleScript as well as an introduction to Automator.

All in all this is an incredible book for beginning AppleScripters. The AppleScript community has been waiting a long time for Sal (and Bill) to write a book and it was obviously worth the wait.

 
Danny Goodman’s Applescript Handbook

Until Sal’s book came out this was my go-to book. Danny Goodman has been around about as long as the Mac and his knowledge as well as his writing style are unsurpassed. He lays out the basics of AppleScript first and gives tons of examples each time. He steps you through each of the examples and explains what each line is about and why it does what it does. I learn languages best by doing lots of examples and see what things do. This book excels at that. The big issue with the scripts in the book is that they have become dated and you may find that some don’t work anymore as AppleScript is always evolving.

Many of the examples are short so you don’t get bogged down in code while trying to understand everything. It’s also a fantastic reference book. Whether you’re trying to find out what a list is or how to create a new folder all you have to do is look here. If you can find a used or on-sale copy I still highly recommend it as a reference book and intro to scripting.

 

AppleScript: The Missing Manual


Applescript: The Missing Manual

Another in the “Missing Manual” series this is another great book for beginners. It’s full of great and useful scripting examples that you can use right out of the box. I started writing AppleScripts to do little things that I got tired of doing over and over. You’ll find lots of examples in this book of just that. And along the way you’ll find yourself thinking about how you can adjust those scripts to suit your needs. And THAT is the best way, in my opinion, to learn AppleScript.

The first three chapters of the book are all about getting your feet wet. It starts with showing you where things like Script Editor lives and the wide variety of scripts that already come with your Mac. You’ll open several of those existing scripts and edit them to change what they do. A great way to introduce scripting in my opinion. Change something, see what it does and go from there. The last chapter in that section shows you how to start creating scripts from scratch in Script Editor. You’ll cover things like creating dialog boxes and opening the AppleScript dictionaries of various applications to see what you can do with them.

The second section gets into more of the everyday aspects of AppleScript and what you can do with it. It covers topics such as manipulating text in Text Edit and Microsoft Word and how to move, select and delete files. People who work with graphics on a regular basis will like the sections on controlling Photoshop and iPhoto with AppleScript. I particularly liked the fact that he covers using the built-in Image Events to manipulate graphics. Image Events comes with your OS and lets you do very cool things with graphics without ever opening a program, such as determine color space, rotate the image or even convert it from one format to another.

This section also covers scripting iTunes and Quicktime but only briefly. With AppleScript you can access the features of Quicktime Pro without paying for the Pro license. It would have been nice to see more of that but the Quicktime section gets you started.

The Internet and Networking section has some useful scripts for Internet Connect and Airport but I think most people will find the Mail and iChat scripting section the most useful. The final chapter in this section covers database scripting, in particular making a small AppleScript database and scripting Filemaker Pro.

The third section of the book is labeled as the “Power Users” section but there are lots of things in there that the beginning scripter will find incredibly useful. Things like assigning scripts to folder actions so they run automatically will be immediately useful to many. And the section on running UNIX commands using AppleScript will open up a whole new world to many. There is a very brief chapter on using AppleScript Studio to create applications. It’s enough to get your started if you’re interested but otherwise you would be better off getting an actual AppleScript Studio book.

The most useful part of this section for any scripter has to be the Debugging section. Nothing is more frustrating when writing scripts, especially for new scripters, then getting error messages and having no idea what they mean. Script Editor does a great job of pointing out where the problem is but not in telling you how to fix it. This section covers in detail what many of those error messages mean and how to fix them. It also covers how to trap for errors that may occur and what to do in your script when they do.

 

Learn AppleScript: The Comprehensive Guide to Scripting and Automation on Mac OS X, Third Edition (Learn Series)


This book is one of the more recent and takes things to the next level from the “Missing Manual” series. This book takes you into the meat of AppleScript and shows you how to do really great things like scripting all those command line tools you know are there but don’t want to open Terminal to use. You’ll even learn how to write scripts that can be executed on a remote Mac. This can be really handy when you need to re-start the Filemaker Pro database from across a campus or business. After you’ve gotten an understanding of the basics of AppleScript from the first two books this one will take you to the next level and get you writing more involved and exciting scripts.

These books are just a small sample of the things that are out there but I think these books will give anyone who is starting in AppleScript or wants a more complete understand the foundation they need. As I said, I like books that give lots of real world examples and all of these do exactly that and more.

Next »