Automate: Upload and Email Photos

ByJoshua Holt

I've been working with Adam Gilbert to get in the best shape of my life. Part of that is emailing Adam every day with photos of what I've been eating. I've got the process down to three clicks. I take a photo of my meal and computers handle the rest. This is how I do it.

Step 1: Take Photos and Upload to Dropbox

Using a powerful app on iOS called Workflow, we can build a workflow to automate the process of taking a photo of each meal and uploading it to Dropbox.

The first action takes a photo using the back camera. The second action names the photo "iPhone Photo". The third action automatically saves the photo in my Dropbox account in a folder named "Food" which is a subfolder of "Action". Finally, the fourth action deletes the photo from my phone as I have no other use for it.

Step 2: Monitor Folder with Hazel

Once the files are uploaded to Dropbox, I have a Hazel rule running on my iMac that monitors the "Food" folder looking for image files. Once it finds one, it renames the file by inserting the time the photo was taken in the form "0914AM (time) - Food Photo.jpg". This will come in handy later. 

At 11:00pm each night, Hazel triggers a rule looking for the "Food" folder and whether it has any photos (no point in emailing Adam if I didn't take photos). If there are files in the "Food" folder, Hazel will launch an Automator workflow to email the photos to Adam.

Step 3: Send the Photos to Adam

Once Hazel triggers the Automator workflow, Automator (a free program on every Mac) first gets the folder contents from Hazel. Next, it drafts an email to Adam, inserts today's date in the Subject field, attaches the files it received from Hazel (in the order by time, thanks to our renaming rule in Step 2) and sends the email. If you don't use your Mac's mail client (I don't - I use Gmail), you'll need to set it up with your email account which I did specifically for this workflow.

Step 4: Delete the Old Photos

The last step is another Hazel rule that is monitoring the Food folder. At 11:30pm, it sweeps all files in the folder into the Trash ready for the next day.

Pulling It All Together

Workflow allows you to add your workflows to the Home Screen as if they were applications, so I made an icon for Step 1 on my phone. Now, it takes three clicks to record what I'm eating. One click to run the workflow, one click to take the photo and one click to confirm I'm happy with the photo. Everything else is automatic.