October 22 2014 - 6:39 pm

Yosemite Dictation Commands and iTunes AppleScripts

A new feature in OS X 10.10 Yosemite is Dictation Commands, which replaces the venerable "Speakable Items". Essentially, this allows you to speak commands at your machine to launch apps and scripts, open files, and activate other tasks. Once you've set up Dictation Commands, you engage the Dictation Response HUD, a floating display indicating that your Mac is "listening", by pressing a set of command keys (fn pressed twice, by default). While the HUD is displayed, your Mac will be listening for spoken commands which you have associated with apps, scripts, Workflows, and so on.

I was hopeful I could fire off the Play Random Album script with a voice command. What a boss I'd be at my next party.

Unfortunately, the joy-killer about using iTunes with Dictation Commands is that while the Mac is in "listening" mode waiting for you to speak a command, iTunes is muted! Even with headphones plugged in. So, to use Dictation Commands while you're listing to iTunes, you've got to engage the HUD (two keyboard clicks), thus muting iTunes, speak your command to activate the script, then turn the HUD off to un-mute iTunes (another two keyboard clicks). And it's not exactly instantaneous. If you're launching a script to play tracks or playlists, well, you might just as well launch it from the Script menu with a mouse click.

An additional minor detail is that, while compiled scripts (.scpt) and applets (.app) work with Dictation Commands, script bundles (.scptd) do not. I use a lot the latter since I can bundle Scripting Libraries in them.

I'm sure Dictation Commands will be great for users who'd like to (or need to) bold their text by saying "Bold this text!". But really. Four keyboard clicks. The (slight?) inconvenience of interupting my music for a few seconds. Plus the effort to set things up in System Preferences and having to convert script bundles into plain compiled scripts or slower-launching applets. (Daniel Jalkut has a couple of other gripes, too.)

This was going to be a project post on how to use Dictation Commands with various AppleScripts for iTunes because awesome. But I'm afraid it didn't turn out that way since it's just that much trouble to bother. The magic isn't worth it. I'll continue to use keyboard shortcuts.

October 8 2014 - 2:35 pm

Hi-Yo, Yosemite!

Looks like OS X 10.10 Yosemite will see an official release sometime next week (at the earliest) now that Apple has announced a Special Event for October 16.

Perhaps you've noticed that over the past few of months I've been updating some of the more popular scripts and applets for Yosemite compatibility. Updating stuff for the latest OS has become an annual ordeal. I spend most of the Summer and Fall updating old stuff for compatibility, and then the next six months working on feature upgrades and new scripts. And then another WWDC arrives, and the cycle continues.

As a result, not everything gets the attention it deserves. So if there's a script or app you use that needs to be updated for Yosemite, let me know. I've got a pretty long list, but I'd prefer to prioritize based on popular usage.

Many of the Yosemite-ready scripts are dropping support for pre-10.8 OSes. Frankly, keeping scripts working over five operating systems (10.6-10.10) and two processor platforms and making them work great for everybody is not fair to the majority of users who want modern features without compromise (nevermind the support issues). In many cases, older versions of the scripts will still be available. (Although, if you can get off of 10.7 I really believe you'll be doing yourself a favor. It's my least favorite OS ever.)

And then there's iTunes 12. For the most part, and with the exception of UI changes and the like, iTunes 12's scripting infrastructure is pretty much the same. I do worry that as new features are added cloud-wise some of iTunes' AppleScript goodness will fall to the wayside (eg: shuffle, song repeat, gapless, playlist window, updatePodcast, and so on). But accessing playlists, tracks, files and tags in general is still pretty healthy. Apple even introduced a new iTunes Library framework with Mavericks. So things are looking pretty good in that department for the foreseeable future. And as I often say, I don't care what iTunes used to do or what would be good if it could do; I just care about what it does now.

And "now" arrives next week. Hi-yo!

October 6 2014 - 8:01 am

UPDATED: Needle Drop v5.0

Needle Drop v5.0 will play each track in the selected iTunes playlist for a set time interval optionally starting at a set number of seconds into each track, beginning with the selected track. Handy for 'scoping playlists.

The latest version adds support for OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iTunes 12 and has other minor tweaks.

More information and download is here.

October 3 2014 - 6:01 am

UPDATED: Save Album Art to Album Folder v5.0

Save Album Art to Album Folder v5.0 will export the artwork of the selected tracks (or the tracks in a selected playlist) as an image file to the folder which contains each selected track's file—presumably the track's Album folder—or a single user-selected folder.

Version 5.0 adds support for OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iTunes 12 (dropping support for pre-10.8), adds "Replace existing image file" toggle, adds "Check for Update" menu command, and has some minor maintenance tweaks.

More information and download is here.

October 3 2014 - 6:01 am

UPDATED: Save Album Art as folder.jpg v3.0

Save Album Art as folder.jpg v3.0 will export the artwork of the selected tracks or tracks in the selected playlist as a JPEG image file named folder.jpg to the folder which contains each selected track's file--presumably the track's Album folder. Many third-party music players and systems (Sonos, for example) may look for a "folder.jpg" here to use as display artwork.

Version 5.0 adds support for OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iTunes 12 (dropping support for pre-10.8), adds "Check for Update" menu command, and has some minor maintenance tweaks.

More information and download is here.

July 23 2014 - 5:12 pm

A Word

Apple is releasing the OS X Yosemite public beta tomorrow.

I make no guarantees as to the reliablity of any software authored by me when operated under a pre-official-release beta version of the operating system.

Yosemite-compatible software will be clearly labeled as such. Otherwise, don't presume any script or app has Yosemite compatibility at all until the official release date in the Fall.

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