Create a Mac OS X Finder Service

Here are some notes on creating a Service for Mac OS X Finder. This will add an item to the Finder Services menu (available under the Finder menu and also by right-clicking on a file in Finder). This particular service will convert a simple .html file into a .rtf.

The basic commands you want to run on the file are:

  • textutil -convert rtf -output "outputfile.rtf" "inputfile.html"
  • touch -r "inputfile.html" "outputfile.rtf"

This will convert the file to RTF (first line) and copy the timestamps from the .html file to the .rtf file (second line).

  1. Launch Automator
  2. File >> New >> Service
  3. Set: Service receives select files or folders in
  4. Add an action: Run Shell Script. Paste in the following bash statements:

    set -e    # Exit on error
    # This will convert simple (stand-alone) html files to RTF.
    html_to_rtf () { 
        d2="$(dirname "$1")" # Do NOT need to escape quote in $()
        f2="$(basename "$1" .html)"
        if [ -d "$d2/$f2.resources" ] ; then return 0 ; fi
        if ! textutil -convert rtf -output "$d2/$f2.rtf" "$1"  ; then return 1 ; fi
        if ! touch -r "$1" "$d2/$f2.rtf" ; then return 1 ; fi
        rm "$1"
    for f in "$@" ; do
        g=$(echo "$f" | tr "[:upper:]" "[:lower:]")
        if [[ "$g" = *".html" && -f "$f" && -r "$f" ]] ; then
            html_to_rtf "$f"

Testing an Automator Service is a bother. You want to just press the Run button in Automator, to run it within Automator, but when you run it for real, you will have selected a file in Finder. For testing purposes only, add a step to the beginning of your Automator steps to Get Specified Finder Items, and select some files to test with. After you've finished testing, remove it.

File >> Save >> HTML to RTF

If you need to modify this service at a later date, it will be found in: /Users/username/Library/Services/HTML to RTF.workflow