One of the advantages of the iPad and iPhone is I can travel to meetings or conferences with very little baggage and when I’m browsing poster sessions etc, I can just use a mobile device to take notes. Sometimes however I do need a hard copy for my records, whether it be notes from a lecture, a publication or even an invoice or receipt. I could save them all until I get back to the office but I prefer to print them out and have the hard copy waiting when I get back. To do this I use Dropbox and a Folder action, first create a folder inside your Dropbox folder called “ForPrinting” then create a sub-folder called “Printed” as shown below. Check that this folder is set to syncing in the Dropbox preferences.
Building a Folder Action using Automator
We now need to build a custom folder action using Automator. First open Automator and select “Folder Action” as highlighted below.
First you need to select the “ForPrinting” folder as the folder the action will receive files from, we no need to drag the “Print Finder Items” action, an easy way to find an action is to type the name in the search box highlighted in green in the image below. Simply drag the action onto the workflow area, this action prints the document. To avoid the “ForPrinting” folder getting crowded we now use the “Move Finder Items” to move the printed documents into the sub-folder we have previously created.
Now save the action as “DropBoxPrinting”. Then right-click (or control-click) on the “ForPrinting” folder within your Dropbox folder, from the popup menu select “Folder Actions Setup” submenu from the Services menu item. Attach the “DropBoxPrinting” workflow to the folder.
Now when you drop a file into the ForPrinting folder it should be printed and the file moved to the “Printed” folder. On a desktop or laptop it is easy to simply drag and drop a file into the folder or if you are not on your own machine you can use the web interface to upload files. Dropbox is available for iOS devices but because of the way sandboxing works saving files to the ForPrinting folder is not always obvious.
For example with Pages you need to click on the spanner icon, then choose “Share and Print”, then “Open in Another App”, then choose PDF, the file will be converted to a PDF and then you get an option to Choose the app to open it, one of which is Open in Dropbox. You can then save it to the “ForPrinting” folder. Apps like Notability allow you to create the note and then save directly to the ForPrinting DropBox folder as shown in the image below. For some other apps you may need to import the content into Notability for printing.
Last Updated 15 January 2013