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Mac Productivity: Quick Scripts and Workflows - Convert Rich Text to Image

Your wife’s surprise birthday party is tomorrow.  You’ve prepared a top notch slideshow on your Mac using Keynote, and transferred it to your iPad.  Great!  Now you can present directly from the iPad.  There’s only one problem.  The fonts in your presentation are no longer appearing properly because the iPad doesn’t have all the same fonts your Mac does.  It looks like you might have to lug your Mac along too.  No, with Automator’s help, you can just replace the problem text with images.  Here’s how...

1. Launch Automator (in /Applications)

2. When prompted to choose a type of workflow, select Service and click Choose

Creating an Automator Service workflow

3. Set the popup menus at the top of the workflow area to receive rich text in any application

Setting the Service to process rich text in any application

4. Search for the Create Banner Image from Text action, and drag it to the workflow area.  When you do this, you’ll see that the action “links up” with the top of the workflow area.  This tells you that the action receives input.  When the workflow runs, any selected rich text is passed to this action as input.

5. Ensure that the Use text input as image filename checkbox is selected in the Create Banner Image from Text action’s interface.  In addition, set the Where popup button to the Desktop, or some other folder of your choice.  Then, set the Text Style popup button to use style of Rich Text input.

The completed workflow, which generates an image of the selected rich text.

6. Save the workflow, and name it Text • Render as Image

Saving the Automator workflow as a Service

Now that the workflow is saved, Mac OS X is smart enough to enable it whenever you’ve selected rich text in an application with support for services.  To trigger it, from the application menu, select Services > Text • Render as Image.

Triggering the workflow from an application Services menu.

Or, you can Right+Click or Control+Click on the selected path, and choose Services > Text • Render as Image from the contextual menu.

Triggering the workflow from the Services contextual menu.

The workflow runs, converts the selected text to image format, and saves it to the Desktop.  Just add it to your Keynote presentation and you’re good to go.  As an added bonus, you now have a Service workflow you can run if you ever run into this problem again.  You also have a quick and easy way to prepare text images for your website!

An image, rendered from rich text.

For more on AppleScript and Automator, check out my book  Automator for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide, as well as my video podcast series Mac Automation Made Simple.