Automator: Creating a Creative and Dynamic Welcome Screen for Parties

Wouldn't it be really cool if when you had a party at your home or an open house at your office, you had a way to show off your guests in a very creative way? Buckle your seat belts, because I have one for you! Today, I will help you build an Automator workflow that will take a photo of each guest (individually or as a group), save it to a folder, then use that folder as your screensaver. It's pretty awesome, if I say so myself.

Before we begin building today's workflow, you may want to check out the following posts (this will give you some background on what Automator is as well as some basics that will help build a solid foundation for you):

In order for this workflow to work, we need to do three things:

  1. Create a new folder (this is where your photos will be saved)
  2. Change your screensaver so that it uses the photos stored in this new folder
  3. Ensure that your computer doesn't require a password to wake from screensaver (System Preferences | Security & Privacy)

Now that you are becoming more familiar with Automator, I won't go through each step of building this workflow. Instead, I will just give you a list of each action. Remember, the order is critical! Here we go:

  1. Automator: Ask for Confirmation
  2. Utilities: Take Video Snapshot
  3. Start Screensaver
  4. Automator: Loop

After you have built the shell of your workflow, there are a few minor adjustments/tweaks you will want to make. They are:

  • Add appropriate comments in the "Ask for Confirmation" action
  • Choose your new folder in the "Take Video Snapshot" action (again, this is where the photos taken will be saved)
  • Set a "Stop after" length in the "Loop" action (since my party will be 90 minutes long, I set mine to 90 minutes)

With all of that done, your workflow should look like this:

If it doesn't look like this, make the appropriate adjustments.

OK, it's time to save and test your workflow! As you will see, you are immediately prompted to have your photo taken. Pressing OK will engage the built-in camera, take a photo, save it to the folder, then start the screensaver. When you wiggle the mouse, you will be prompted for the next photo, and it will continue this loop for the designated time (90 minutes in my case). If at any point you want to stop the loop, just hit the "Cancel" button on the prompt (instead of "OK).

To make this really effective, you would want to set this up on an iMac that's easy to see during the party. And for an ever bigger splash, you can AirPlay your Mac's screen to your big screen TV so that guests can watch the ever-growing slideshow in multiple locations.

For those who think that Automator is all work and no play... I just proved you wrong!

Now go out and have fun exploring and using Automator!

Posted on January 24, 2014 and filed under Design, How To, Mac.