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Create dynamic Mail signatures via fortune
Authored by: af3556 on Sep 02, '04 10:12:29PM
Below is an extended version that a) tests to see if Mail is running before attempting the update, b) reads quotes from a .quotes file in your home directory (fortune can often be inappropriate), and c) prefixes the quote with a constant signature 'template' (i.e. your name + phone). Here's an example .quotes file:

Be alert. The world needs more lerts.
It's impossible to foresee the consequences of being clever.
Out of my Mind - Back in 5 Minutes
One person, one vote (may not apply in certain States).
chown -R us:us /yourbase
Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves, for we shall never cease to
be amused.
If anyone's not used Mac::Glue before, here's what I did to fetch and install Mac::Glue via the CPAN (, and configure for Mail:

$ sudo cpan Mac::Glue
$ sudo gluemac /Applications/ 
You might like to install this script in cron: (save code in a file, e.g. /Users/you/bin/

$ chmod +x /Users/you/bin/
$ ( crontab -l; echo "20,50 * * * * @AppleNotOnBattery /usr/bin/nice /Users/you/bin/ " ) | crontab -

The script:

# - reads a random quote from a quotes file (each quote is one or more lines
#   separated by '--' on a line by itself), and appends to a signature 
#   template, which is then installed as the RandomQuote in
# - based on an original idea at ("Create dynamic Mail 
#   signatures via fortune")
# - Mac::Glue incurs a significant startup CPU hit (~40% CPU for a bit over a 
#   second on a 867MHz PowerBook):
#   $ time bin/ 
#   real    0m1.491s
#   user    0m0.410s
#   sys     0m0.130s
# - I considered running as a daemon to mitigate this startup overhead; 
#   though as the perl+Mac::Glue memory footprint is around 12 MB real 
#   I decided to leave as a 'niced' cron job (perl alone is ~1MB real)
# - crontab (at 20 past and 10 to the hour):
#   20,50 * * * * @AppleNotOnBattery /usr/bin/nice /Users/ben/bin/ 
# - for resource comparison I wrote an equivalent AppleScript 'stay-open' 
#   application (omitting actually reading the quotes file); the AS app 
#   uses 13.9MB real mem
# - i.e. perl+Mac::Glue's overhead is about the same as AS

use strict;
use Mac::Glue;

use Mac::Apps::Launch qw(IsRunning);

use constant SIGSRC => "$ENV{HOME}/.signature.src";
use constant QUOTES => "$ENV{HOME}/.quotes";

use constant SIGNAME => 'RandomQuote';

# had to run 'sudo gluemac /Applications/' to set up the event 'glue'
# (don't know if full path is required)

# this takes about 1.2s on a PowerBook G4/867 (10.3.4)
my $Mail = Mac::Glue->new('Mail');

my $sig;

unless (IsRunning($Mail->{ID}))

foreach my $sig ($Mail->prop('signatures')->get)
  if ($sig->prop('name')->get eq SIGNAME)

# read signature "template", append randomly selected quote
open FH, SIGSRC or die "failed to open [" . SIGSRC . "]: $!\n";
$sig = join '', <FH>;
close FH;

open FH, QUOTES or die "failed to open [" . QUOTES . "]: $!\n";
  my $l;
  while (<FH>) { rand($.) < 1 && ($l = $_) }
  chomp $l;
  $sig .= $l;
close FH;

#warn "[$sig]\n";

$Mail->make(new => signature => with_properties =>
    name => SIGNAME, content => $sig

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