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Mac Automation: take and sync pictures to Apple TV

Parties can sometimes be boring, but with a Mac with an iSight and an Apple TV, you can liven up any party! In this how-to, I am going to show you how to create an Automator workflow that will take pictures at specified times and sync them over to your Apple TV, all without you ever lifting a finger. This Automator workflow is fantastic when you have people over for a party they can head over to your Mac, take a crazy picture of themselves and have it synced over to the Apple TV in the living room.

Continue reading to learn how to make this Automator workflow.



Creating the workflow

Let's first create the Automator workflow. To create this workflow, just place the following Automator actions together (in the same order):
  • Ask for Text
  • Set Value of Variable
  • Take Video Snapshot (check the "Take picture automatically" check box, specify a place to save your photos)
  • Loop

Creating the variables
Let's now create the variables for this. Variables allow you to change, for instance, the file name based on a user's text input. To create this simple variable, just click View > Variables. Right-clicking in the resulting pane that shows up at the bottom of the window and selecting "New Variable" will do just that -- create a new variable. Supply the text "Attendee" for the "Name" section; leave the "Value" section blank.

Once you create the variable, drag it to the "Save as" text field in the "Take Video Snapshot" action; then set the "Variable" in the "Set Value of Variable" action to "Attendee" -- this will link the variable's value to the text supplied by the user in the "Ask for text" action.

Setting up the Apple TV sync
Select your Apple TV in the devices list in iTunes, and click the "Photos" tab. Check the "sync photos from:" check box and select "choose folder..." from the drop-down menu. Select the folder that you specified in the "Take Video Snapshot" action.

Select the "Sync photos before other media" option to make sure your pictures are updated first.

Running the workflow
You can now click "Run" in Automator. The workflow will then begin running and ask you for your name. When you click "Continue," your photo will then be taken using your Mac's iSight (or other camera) and the photo will be saved in your specified folder using your name as a file name.

When the save is finished, the workflow will then loop back to the beginning and ask for your name -- ready for another party-goer's picture to be taken. When the first pictures are synced, you can start a slideshow on your Apple TV -- as you take more pictures, they will be added to the playing slideshow.

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