Snow Leopard broke your Grabup? Create your own!

bannerAbout a year ago I bought GrabUp, a small application that sits in your menu bar, waiting for you to take a screenshot. Once you do so, it immediately takes the file and uploads it to my FTP server. When it’s done it copies the url to the screenshot to my clipboard. The simplicity might not impress but the workflow amazes the more.

Ever since I got myself Snow Leopard GrabUp died on me: Whenever I take a screenshot GrabUp won’t upload it to the server anymore… And I’m not alone. Lot’s of users are experiencing this issue.
The people at GrabUp HQ probably don’t give a damn about their customers because they don’t seem to be working on an updated version.

automatorI’ve been looking for a replacement but nothing really compares to the power and yet the simplicity of GrabUp.
So what does a good developer do? Create his own workflow in Automator… I won’t go into the details of this. If you love GrabUp but Snow Leopard broke yours, this is a simple walkthrough to get a (free) GrabUp-like workflow running on your own FTP server 😉

  1. If you don’t already have it: Download and install this Upload To FTP automator action.
  2. Download this Automator workflow and open it
  3. Edit the FTP details in the ‘Upload to FTP’ action
  4. Save this workflow using ‘Save as’ and give it a name.
  5. Open Finder and navigate to the folder where screenshots are saved to (mine is -/Ronny/Pictures/screenshots/), right click it and select ‘Folder Actions Setup…’
  6. The Folder Actions Setup dialog opens. You will be presented a list with possible actions. Choose the action you just saved in step 4. Click ‘Attach’
  7. The window should look like this now (notice all the checked boxes).
  8. Now take a screenshot, wait for Growl to tell you the upload is done and enjoy your CMD+V.

The only minor (depending on your sense of patience) downside of this is that Snow Leopard needs a few (5-10) seconds on order to get started executing the workflow whereas GrabUp starts immediatly. But having done some research regarding this last note, I have come to the conclusion that this is not intended behaviour. I’m not an Apple Developer of any kind so if you know how to make this delay go away, feel free to help me out here 😉

In the meanwhile: I’ve found a pref-pane called Hazel. This tool does all kinds of stuff regarding files and folders. One of them is monitoring a folder of your choice and executing an Automator script of your choice… Well ain’t that just perfect? The intresting thing is that Hazel reacts a bit faster to changes in folders than OSX itself does (as in ‘3 seconds’). If I got their FAQ explanation for the pricing right, using it for this sole purpose is free…

What is the difference between the evaluation, demo and registered mode?

When you first install Hazel, it is in evaluation mode. In this mode all features except rule exporting are available. This mode lasts for 14 days giving you a chance to put Hazel through its paces.

After the evaluation period is up, Hazel switches to demo mode. In this mode, Hazel is limited to monitoring one folder and for that folder, only two rules can be active at any one time. Also, in demo mode, you cannot import or export rules and trash functions are disabled.

You may purchase a full license at any time to fully enable all features.

I have installed Hazel, configured it to be working with the above workflow* and guess what… Demo mode will do 😉

*When asked for the Automator workflow: Navigate to /Users/YourUsername/Library/Workflows/Applications/Folder Actions/. You’ll find the workflow you saved earlier in that folder.

So there you go! A free alternative to GrabUp Pro and the baby’s working on Snow Leopard! What else do you need?

Feel free to report any problems you run into while trying to set this up. Now go and share some screenshots!

PS: To any TinyGrab employee who got here through one of these automated notifiers: I don’t like the aggresive attitude you guys seem to be handling (on getSatisfaction, TUAW, Twitter, anywhere) so don’t even bother commenting here in order to promote your product. I tried it and I didn’t like it anyway. Any comments by one of you will be marked as spam. Long story short: Leamme alone.


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Ronny is a freelance frontend developer with a wild passion for creativity and a relentless hate against flat design. Ronny spent years as a Flash developer before moving to HTML5 and rediscovering fun and happiness.

3 Comments Join the Conversation →

  1. glenndavid

    Skitch ( is also a good free alternative and adds some extra functionality like placing basic text and adding a paintbrush even take a quick webcam shot and oneClick upload, pic after the jump:
    i never realized that creating this “snapAndUpload”-process yourself could be so easy, great article!


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