Jun 19


Windows Explorer - Send to Mail Recipient

Windows Explorer - Send to Mail Recipient

Are you a Windows-convert and miss the ability to right-click on a file and choose “Send to Mail Recipient”? Look no further, Automator is here. I can’t recall just how often I made use of Windows Explorer’s context menu selection “Send Mail to Recipient”, but know that it was enough to leave me wanting after switching to Mac OS X.

This article applies to OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and OS X 10.5 (Leopard), not OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

Here’s how you can use an Automator workflow to create this same functionality in OS X Finder’s context menu.

  1. First, open Automator and choose to create a Custom workflow.

    New Automator Custom Workflow

    New Automator Custom Workflow

  2. Second, under the “Files and Folders” actions library, drag and drop Finder’s “Get Selected Items” to the righthand pane to begin building your workflow.

    Action - Finder Get Selected=

    Action - Finder Get Selected Items

  3. Third, under the “Mail” actions library, drag and drop Entourage’s Create New Mail Message (or Mail’s New Mail Message, if you prefer) to the righthand window pane.
    Action - Create New Entourage Mail Message

    Action - Create New Entourage Mail Message

  4. Fourth, and finally, again under the “Mail” actions library, drag and drop Entourage’s Add Attachments to Entourage Message (or Mail’s Add Attachments to Front Message) to the righthand window pane
    Action - Add Attachments to Entourage Messages

    Action - Add Attachments to Entourage Messages


Workflow Context Menu Selection

Workflow Context Menu Selection

Now that your workflow is complete, you’ll need to save it. I recommend first saving it as a “workflow”, so you can tweak it later if need be. Next, we’ll choose to save it as a Finder plugin, which will put your workflow plugin into ~/Library/Workflows/Applications/Finder/

You can also save Automator workflows as applications (.app), however, doing so in this example would mean when you run the .app, Entourage will open and attach the .app file itself to your new mail message – not quite the intended use here.

The only two negatives I can speak of with regard to using Automator workflows are:

  1. Automator workflows may take a few seconds to execute. An AppleScript version of the same workflow executes more quickly, but of course means you’ll have to code the automation rather than click your way through creating it.
  2. The Automator workflows are three levels deep in the Finder context menu. This makes navigating your mouse to select your workflow precarious.

OS X Send to Mail Recipient
I can live with the extra few seconds to execute the workflow, but would love to see an automator workflow at the top level of the “More” contextual menu. Anyone know how this is done?

19 Responses to “Create a Send to Mail Recipient in Mac OS X using Automator Workflow”

  1. loic Says:

    nice and efficient posts on your blog,
    I switched from Windows/Linux to mac recently and I must say I've been facing many similar workarounds (entourage for work, send to recipient..)
    I did the Automator trick, which is good except the long menus in finder..
    A friend shown me then you can have similar functionnality with draging the file on the dock's mail icon, which is finally more usable…

    Keep on the good work!

  2. lcalcote Says:

    @loic, thanks a bunch. Having been a Windows-to-Linux-to Mac convert myself, it sounds like we're coming from the same place. I sure to love the perks of OS X. There are a few little ins and outs that make life (and work) so much more pleasant.

    Agreed, dragging and dropping a file onto the Entourage (or icon on the Dock is, sooo much nicer than having to try to maneuver your mouse over multiple context menus. :) I may have to update this post, pointing this out as a simpler solution.

  3. Jeremy Page Says:

    For more 'drag-and-drop' goodness, you can add a shortcut to mail at the top of your finder.
    Spotlight 'mail' and drag the icon where you want it.
    Drag files and folders onto the icon to create a new message with attachments.

  4. lcalcote Says:

    Very cool, Jeremy. Thanks for sharing. I've got a new icon in my Finder toolbar now.

  5. Chris Says:

    just drop the file onto your mail-icon in the dock.

  6. lcalcote Says:


    Once your workflow has been created, from Automator choose to save it as a Finder plugin, which will put your workflow plugin into ~/Library/Workflows/Applications/Finder/your workflow. To activate, right-click on any file (in Finder) and hover over the More –> Automator –> your workflow selection. This will activate your workflow on the selected file. See this screenshot as an example.

    <a rel="attachment wp-att-378" href=""><img class="size-thumbnail wp-image-378" title="Workflow Context Menu Selection" src="×150.png&quot; alt="Workflow Context Menu Selection" width="150" height="150" />

  7. satcomtim Says:

    How do you save it as a finder plugin? Only options in save as are workflow or app. 10.6.2 if it matters.


  8. lcalcote Says:


    While on the Automator File menu, look for "Save as Plugin…". Here's a screenshot. <img src="×150.png&quot; alt="Automator Save As Plugin" title="Automator Save As Plugin" width="150" height="150" class="aligncenter size-thumbnail wp-image-679" /> This screenshot was taken on a 10.5.8 machine.


  9. austen Says:

    I am missing something here. I have the latest IMAC 27" and did everything on your list and it runs brilliantly when I press 'run' but I cannot find a folder in my MAC called 'workflows' or 'finder' to save the file to.

  10. Roman Says:

    For some reason I don't have that Save As Plug-in option on my Automator.. SL 10.6.2 What do I do? Thanks! :)

  11. Cem Says:

    in Snow Leopard 10.6 you need to create service instead of a workflow. you have to start with creating a service. It's not something you can "save as" anymore. but the rest is pretty much the same as described above.


  12. Anax Says:


    Really great post. There is a lot to learn on your blog.

    Tell me how can is subscribe to your posts.

    Thanks a lot.

  13. gozu Says:

    To recap for snow leopard:

    Open automator

    create new service

    drag workflow file into automator to open it

    In Service Receives, select "files or folders" in "Finder" app

    check wait for workflow to finish

    select "Return action input"

    save it with some name and you're set.

  14. Michael Says:

    It works fine for me on MAC 10.6.3 ….only problem is that it always sends TWO photos to the mail app???

  15. Oleksii Says:

    Tested on Snow Leopard 10.6.7 — works!

  16. Lee Goddard Says:

    In the latest OS X Snow Leopard, such a service seems to be built in: New E-mail With Attachment.

  17. Will Says:

    How can we do this if we use Thunderbird and not mac mail?

  18. Bell Says:

    that's true if you're sending within an application
    this automator service allows you to send a file straight from the finder without opening it

  19. Jayness Says:

    How about for Gmail? :)

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