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Team Think Labs | Using Automator to create high-quality multi-page PDF comps from large PSD files
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Using Automator to create high-quality multi-page PDF comps from large PSD files

Have you ever found yourself trying to export proofs from a giant Photoshop file only to struggle with getting the size under the 5MB email limit and going through way too many steps to get there? Automator is a program included on your OS (Mac only, sorry PC friends) that creates workflows to make your life easier, and this is an example of how to use it for creating sharp looking comps from a large PSD file.

I’ve got my Photoshop file setup in Layer Comps in the order I’d like them to be in my PDF proof I’m going to send to the client. The size of this file is 150MB.


Choose File>Scripts>Layer Comps to Files. Here are the settings I prefer to use.

Choose a folder to save your images to, name them appropriately and Run Layer Comps to Files. Your images will appear in the selected folder in the correct order as Photoshop assigns a number to each comp when exporting.

Open Automator on your machine (found in your Applications folder). It will ask you what file type you’re building today – choose Workflow.

There are many built-in workflows ready for you to use – today we’ll deal with converting our images into a pdf that is emailable. First, you’ll want the program to ask you where the files are located to start the workflow with – from the preset menu, choose Ask for Finder Items and drag it into your workspace. It will look like this:

You may adjust the settings in the Ask for Finder Items window to tell it where your file is located. Select Files under type and check Allow Multiple Selection since we will be putting together a multi-page document.

Next, type PDF into the search area at the top of the preset menu. This is a quick way to find all things related to PDF which we’ll need to complete our workflow. We’re going to want Automator to first convert all of our JPG images into PDF images, so find New PDF from Images in the menu and drag it over underneath Ask for Finder Items. Your workspace should now look like this:

From here, type the name you’d like your final file to have in the Output File Name box. You may replace an existing file, choose where you’d like Automator to save the file, etc.

Once Automator converts our JPGs to PDF files, we’re going to want it to stitch them all together in one combined document. From our preset menu, choose Combine PDF files and drag it into your workspace, which will now look like this:

Make sure you select Appending Pages to keep the document in order. Now we’re done setting up the Workflow we’d like Automator to execute for us. Hit the Run button in the upper right hand corner and watch as Automator cycles through the steps we’ve laid out to complete our job. You’ll end up with a nice compact file (this one ends up to be under 3MB!) and can reuse this workflow anytime you’d like to repeat the action as you can save them for later use. I encourage you to play around with Automator – it’s got some great capabilities that have saved me time preparing files again and again.

Here’s a shot of our final Workflow screen for reference.

You may download this Workflow here for your own use. Give it a try!