Unix for Mac OS X Users
Illustration by John Hersey

Using AppleScript


From:

Unix for Mac OS X Users

with Kevin Skoglund

Video: Using AppleScript

In this movie I'll show you how to use the Unix command line to communicate with the AppleScript. I'm not going to try to teach you to write AppleScript. I'm certainly no expert on it myself, but I will demonstrate a few useful basics. But if you already know how to write scripts on your own, well, then you'll be able to quickly link the power of AppleScript with the power of Unix and do some really cool things. Now the way we're going to call AppleScripts is by using the Mac only Unix command osascript. OSA stands for Open Scripting Architecture. And after that, we can either provide the file name of the script that we want to run, or rather the path to that file, or we can use the -e option and actually give our instructions right here in the string.
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  1. 3m 57s
    1. Introduction
      1m 14s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 43s
  2. 32m 2s
    1. What is Unix?
      7m 27s
    2. The terminal application
      4m 23s
    3. Logging in and using the command prompt
      5m 19s
    4. Command structure
      5m 22s
    5. Kernel and shells
      5m 25s
    6. Unix manual pages
      4m 6s
  3. 15m 58s
    1. The working directory
      2m 49s
    2. Listing files and directories
      3m 59s
    3. Moving around the filesystem
      4m 58s
    4. Filesystem organization
      4m 12s
  4. 1h 4m
    1. Naming files
      5m 41s
    2. Creating files
      2m 19s
    3. Unix text editors
      6m 39s
    4. Reading files
      5m 35s
    5. Reading portions of files
      3m 27s
    6. Creating directories
      2m 40s
    7. Moving and renaming files and directories
      8m 32s
    8. Copying files and directories
      3m 7s
    9. Deleting files and directories
      3m 38s
    10. Finder aliases in Unix
      4m 10s
    11. Hard links
      5m 30s
    12. Symbolic links
      6m 36s
    13. Searching for files and directories
      6m 32s
  5. 34m 58s
    1. Who am I?
      4m 3s
    2. Unix groups
      1m 52s
    3. File and directory ownership
      6m 41s
    4. File and directory permissions
      4m 27s
    5. Setting permissions using alpha notation
      6m 49s
    6. Setting permissions using octal notation
      3m 49s
    7. The root user
      1m 57s
    8. sudo and sudoers
      5m 20s
  6. 52m 34s
    1. Command basics
      4m 4s
    2. The PATH variable
      4m 13s
    3. System information commands
      3m 40s
    4. Disk information commands
      6m 8s
    5. Viewing processes
      5m 0s
    6. Monitoring processes
      3m 36s
    7. Stopping processes
      3m 19s
    8. Text file helpers
      6m 50s
    9. Utility programs
      7m 28s
    10. Using the command history
      8m 16s
  7. 20m 39s
    1. Standard input and standard output
      1m 24s
    2. Directing output to a file
      4m 13s
    3. Appending to a file
      2m 44s
    4. Directing input from a file
      5m 28s
    5. Piping output to input
      4m 40s
    6. Suppressing output
      2m 10s
  8. 41m 28s
    1. Profile, login, and resource files
      9m 11s
    2. Setting command aliases
      6m 59s
    3. Setting and exporting environment variables
      4m 54s
    4. Setting the PATH variable
      6m 10s
    5. Configuring history with variables
      6m 17s
    6. Customizing the command prompt
      6m 5s
    7. Logout file
      1m 52s
  9. 1h 25m
    1. grep: Searching for matching expressions
      5m 21s
    2. grep: Multiple files, other input
      4m 28s
    3. grep: Coloring matched text
      2m 57s
    4. Introduction to regular expressions
      3m 22s
    5. Regular expressions: Basic syntax
      3m 19s
    6. Using regular expressions with grep
      5m 20s
    7. tr: Translating characters
      8m 17s
    8. tr: Deleting and squeezing characters
      5m 30s
    9. sed: Stream editor
      7m 45s
    10. sed: Regular expressions and back-references
      7m 8s
    11. cut: Cutting select text portions
      7m 42s
    12. diff: Comparing files
      4m 35s
    13. diff: Alternative formats
      4m 30s
    14. xargs: Passing argument lists to commands
      7m 25s
    15. xargs: Usage examples
      7m 59s
  10. 42m 25s
    1. Finder integration
      4m 45s
    2. Clipboard integration
      5m 5s
    3. Screen capture
      3m 42s
    4. Shut down, reboot, and sleep
      3m 34s
    5. Text to speech
      2m 36s
    6. Spotlight integration: Searching metadata
      3m 41s
    7. Spotlight integration: Metadata attributes
      4m 24s
    8. Using AppleScript
      5m 23s
    9. System configurations: Viewing and setting
      5m 51s
    10. System configurations: Examples
      3m 24s
  11. 1m 26s
    1. Conclusion
      1m 26s

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Watch the Online Video Course Unix for Mac OS X Users
6h 35m Beginner Apr 29, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Unix for Mac OS X Users unlocks the powerful capabilities of Unix that underlie Mac OS X, teaching how to use command-line syntax to perform common tasks such as file management, data entry, and text manipulation. The course teaches Unix from the ground up, starting with the basics of the command line and graduating to powerful, advanced tools like grep, sed, and xargs. The course shows how to enter commands in Terminal to create, move, copy, and delete files and folders; change file ownership and permissions; view and stop command and application processes; find and edit data within files; and use command-line shortcuts to speed up workflow. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Moving around the file system
  • Creating and reading files
  • Copying, moving, renaming, and deleting files and directories
  • Creating hard links and symbolic links
  • Understanding user identity, file ownership, and sudo
  • Setting file permissions with alpha and octal notation
  • Changing the PATH variable
  • Using the command history
  • Directing input and output
  • Configuring the Unix working environment
  • Searching and replacing using grep and regular expressions
  • Manipulating text with tr, sed, and cut
  • Integrating with the Finder, Spotlight, and AppleScript
Subject:
IT
Software:
Mac OS X Unix
Author:
Kevin Skoglund

Using AppleScript

In this movie I'll show you how to use the Unix command line to communicate with the AppleScript. I'm not going to try to teach you to write AppleScript. I'm certainly no expert on it myself, but I will demonstrate a few useful basics. But if you already know how to write scripts on your own, well, then you'll be able to quickly link the power of AppleScript with the power of Unix and do some really cool things. Now the way we're going to call AppleScripts is by using the Mac only Unix command osascript. OSA stands for Open Scripting Architecture. And after that, we can either provide the file name of the script that we want to run, or rather the path to that file, or we can use the -e option and actually give our instructions right here in the string.

So I can say set volume output muted true. And that will mute our computer. Or I can say output muted false. These two are handy because we can put them in an alias. So for example, I could just jump to the beginning of the line here. alias mute= and I'll put double quotes around it, jump to the end of the line and put double quotes at the end of that. and then let's do the same thing this time with false. We'll make it unmute. Now I can say mute, unmute.

Now remember, if you want to keep those aliases around, you'll need to put them in your bashrc file. We can also use AppleScript to talk to different applications, and the Finder is actually considered application. So we can have an AppleScript that looks like this, osascript -e 'tell application "Finder" to display dialog "Hello"'. Hit Return. You see it starts bouncing down here. I click on it, and there is my dialog box. Once I click OK, it comes back and it actually returns a value to me, which I could also catch and do something within Unix if I needed to.

Now once we start talking the applications, very quickly one line stops being enough. Usually we don't just want to tell an application to do one simple thing, but we want to give it a set of instructions. So that's when you really go about writing scripts and putting them in files. I've created a sample script that you can take a look at. It's going to be inside the Unix files folder that's included with the exercise files. And I'll just let you see what it looks like. It's pretty small script. It just says tell application iTunes and now instead of just a single thing, we're going to have a list of things that are activate, set the sound volume, play, wait 10 seconds, switch to the next track, wait 5 seconds, and then finally quit.

Now if we want to run the script we just type osascript and then the name of it, control and then itunes.scpt. That's typically what you would name the end of your scripts. So it would be .scpt. Hit Return. Wait one moment while iTunes opens up. Then it will play this song for 10 seconds. (Music playing) Switches to the next track. That should play this for 5 seconds and then it shuts down.

Now you can look up more information about iTunes and you can find out there is a lot more that you can do. You can manage your playlist, things like that. You can search for things. All that you can then do from the command line by integrating Unix with AppleScripts. Let me give you another example so you can see how we can actually talk to an application and have it return data to us that we can then work within Unix. Let's take a look at another sample script that I've included in the exercise files. You can control the address book, so control_address_book.scpt. And there is another very simple script.

It says tell the application Address Book create an empty list called emailList, then count the people that are in the address book, and then for each one of them go through and get the value of that person's email and put it into the emailList and at the end return that item to us. So let's try it. So osascript control_address_book. You can see that it opens up, then it comes back and it gives me a list of all the email addresses that are in there. Now this is data, this is data that we can use, so we can take that and we can pipe it into something.

Let's pipe that into seed. We have a comma-delimited list, but I want to take out the space that is right there. That should do it. So now it's a comma-delimited list without that extra space. Now let's take that and let's put that through tr. Tell that comma it should turn into a line return. Now it's at each line and now let's take that and pipe it into sort and finally let's go ahead for good measure and put it through uniq. And then if we wanted at the end of that we could pipe that then into a file and we would have an export, a dump, of all of the email addresses that were in there.

Now we could get more creative about the kinds of things that we pull out by using a script. Maybe you want to pull everyone's address out or you want to pull the first name and the last name. The idea here is to show you that you can tell these applications to send data back to you that you can then work within Unix. You can put on your clipboard. You can send it to another script that will then send it to another application. There is almost no limit to what you can do here, because now you've the ability to use AppleScript not just to work in Unix, but actually control programs and have them do your bidding.

Now if you are a hard-core AppleScript user, I also just want to mention that there is one other command in Unix that maybe useful, which is called osacompile and that will actually compile scripts for you as well. So for most of you, osascript will be enough just be able to run scripts, but for some people you may want to make use of the osacompile command as well.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Unix for Mac OS X Users .


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Q: The exercise files for the following movies appear to be broken:
07_02_files
07_03_files
07_04_files
07_05_files
08_03_files

Is there something wrong with them?
These exercises include one or more "dot files", whose file names start with a period. These files are normally hidden from view by the Finder.  So that they would show up in the Finder, the period has been removed from the file names. Additionally, "_example" has been added at the end of the file name to make it clear that the file will not work as-is. To make the dot files usable, either:

1) Open the file in a text editor to view its contents. Note that it may not be possible to double-click the file to open it because there is no file extension (such as .txt).
2) Resave the file under a new name (usually by choosing File > Save As), adding a "." to the beginning of the file name and removing "_example" from the end.

OR

1) Copy and rename the file from the Unix command line using the techniques discussed in this course. Rename the file by adding a "." to the start and removing "_example" from the end. Include the "-i" option to prevent overwriting an existing file unexpectedly.
Example:  cp -i ~/Desktop/Exercise\ Files/Chapter_07/07_02_files/bashrc_example ~/.bashrc
 
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