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Installing Widgets with Automator

TMO Quick Tip - Installing Widgets with Automator

by , 7:30 AM EST, February 22nd, 2006

Today's Quick Tip is a two-for-one bonus. First, we'll enhance Safari's security by disabling one of its features for automatically opening files, and then we'll build an Automator workflow that installs Dashboard widgets for you.

One of Safari's features can automatically uncompress and open files and applications you download from the Internet. Unfortunately, that feature could potentially be abused by someone that wants to install an application on your Mac without your knowledge, so it's best to turn it off. Here's how:

    - Launch Safari.
    - Choose Safari > Preferences from the menu bar.
    - Click the General button.
    - Uncheck Open "safe" files after downloading.


Disabling "Open Safe Files" prevents applications from installing without your knowledge.

The downside is that now any widgets you download won't automatically install for you, leaving you to handle that job on your own. That's where the second part of today's two-fer tip comes in. Automator can install downloaded widgets for you thanks to an easy-to-build workflow.

    - Launch Automator - it's in the Applications folder on your hard drive.
    - We'll be working exclusively with Finder actions, so select Finder in the Library column.
    - Drag the Get Selected Finder Items from the Action column to the workflow area. That's the big empty space just to the right of the Action column.
    - Drag the Move Finder Items action so that it sits below the Get Selected Finder Items action in the workflow window.
    - Click the To pop-up menu and select Other from the bottom of the list.

    Use the TO pop-up menu to select your Widgets folder.
    - Navigate to your Widgets folder. It's in Library > Widgets.
    - Select the Widgets folder, and click the Open button.
    - Check Replace existing files. That way, you can update widgets without getting a dialog that tells you the widget is already installed.
    - Choose File > Save As Plug-in from the menu bar.
    - Give your plug-in a descriptive name, like "Install Widget."
    - Choose Finder from the Plug-in for pop-up menu.
    - Click the Save button.

To use your new Automator workflow you need a widget that isn't compressed. If the widget you want to install is still a ZIP or Stuffit archive, Double-Click it first so it uncompresses. Now do this:

    - Control-Click (Right-Click on a two button mouse) on the widget.
    - Slide your mouse down the contextual menu to Automator.
    - Now choose your widget installer from Automator's fly-out menu.


Select your workflow to install the widget.

Since this workflow only has two steps, it's easy to modify for other uses. I made one that installs screen savers for me, too.

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