Jun 02, 2020 . 2 min

Copy file opened in macOS preview to working directory

Another random script I pieced together recently.

I generally have a bunch of temp folders that I keep around for files to go in. And at times, I have pull some files into the current folder I am working on in my shell. If those are pdf of image files, I usually have them open in macOS preview which btw is a neat tool. Anyhow, when I now have to copy the file to my current location inside the terminal I have to look up the folder, filename and God help us if there are spaces in the filename in which case I have to go back and add quotes.

So I decided to just write a script to do just that. It looks up the file in the last opened preview window and copies that file to my current directory and gives me an option to change the name just in case. Here is the script.

FILE="$(osascript -e 'tell application "Preview" to return path of back document')"
printf "New filename(%s): " "$(basename "$FILE")"
read -r
[ -n "$REPLY" ] && NEW="$REPLY" || NEW="$(basename "$FILE")"
cp "$FILE" "$NEW"

Explanation #

First we get the name of the file using applescript. This is the important part.

tell application "Preview" to return path of back document

Once we have that we just ask for a new name and then copy the file from current location to here. basename lets use get just the filename from a file path.

Extra #

Usually you could also make use of the directory of the last Finder window. Like, cd into last open Finder location. This is how you would go about getting the folder location.

tell application "Finder" to set currentDir to target of Finder window 1 as alias
log POSIX path of currentDir

This will return you the path of the topmost Finder window. If no finder window is open it will just error out.

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