How to turn a Bluetooth device into 'digital paper'

Oct 12, '07 07:30:00AM

Contributed by: cryptonomicon

I have long dreamed of having "digital paper" that simply appears as a Bluetooth printer that I can print whatever I want to, and have laying around on my desk. Think of it as infinitely reusable paper. Well, that day is here... sort of.

I just got a Parrot Photo Viewer 7", which is a digital photo frame with decent resolution and Bluetooth built in. This hint turns it into digital paper by using a purpose-built Automator workflow and the Print dialog's PDF Services feature. This hint can also be generalized to "print" to any willing Bluetooth device. Things you will need:

  1. Mac OS X 10.4.x (Tiger) or greater
  2. A Bluetooth device to "print" to that supports Object Push and a common image format (e.g. JPG)
  3. The Bluetooth Object Push 1.1 Automator action.
Part I: Install the Bluetooth Object Push 1.1 Automator action
  1. Unzip the file you downloaded
  2. Open the resulting bluetooth-object-push folder, control-click on the BlueActionMove-Installer_1.1 file, and choose the Show Package Contents from the pop-up menu.
  3. In the window that opens, drill down into the Contents folder, then the Resources the folder, then the Actions folder
  4. Drag the BlueActionMove.action file in the Actions folder to some place you can get to it (e.g. your Desktop)
  5. Open Automator (/Applications/Automator)
  6. In Automator, choose the Import Actions... menu item from the File menu and import the action you just extracted
  7. Verify that a Bluetooth item now appears in the Library column of the window in Automator (it will be at the bottom of the list initially)
Note: These steps were necessary for me, as running the BlueActionMove-Installer_1.1 to try to automatically install the action didn't work at all. Your mileage may vary.

Part II: Write the Automator Workflow

  1. In Automator, start a new Workflow
  2. In the Library column, select PDF, and from the Action column, drag the Render PDF Pages as Images action to the top of the workflow assembly pane.
  3. Make any adjustments to the Render PDF Pages as Images action's settings that you'd like (e.g. pick your image file format, etc.).
  4. Back in the Library column, select Bluetooth, then in the Action column, drag the Bluetooth Object Push action to the bottom of the workflow assembly pane.
  5. Make any adjustments to the Bluetooth Object Push action's settings that you'd like (e.g. specify a specific paired Bluetooth device to push to).
  6. Save the workflow somewhere you can find it for future access (e.g. your desktop) with a meaningful name (e.g. "Push JPG to Bluetooth Device")
Part III: Install the Workflow as a PDF Service and Test it Out
  1. Open the /Library » PDF Services/ folder to make the workflow available to all users, or to ~/Library/PDF Services/ to make it only available to you.
  2. Place a copy of your saved workflow into this folder. You will likely need to authenticate if copying to /Library/PDF Services/.
  3. Open any application you like and choose the Print menu item from the File dialog.
  4. In the Print dialog, click the PDF button in the lower left hand corner, and then choose your workflow from the drop down menu.
Presto! You have just "printed" to a Bluetooth device (in my case, turning my photo viewer into digital paper). One image file will be created per page of the document being printed, and each of these images will be pushed sequentially to the Bluetooth device.

[robg adds: I haven't tested this one.]

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Mac OS X Hints