Save time on tasks

01.08.10

Learning basic Linux commands helps save you time when working on repetitive tasks.

Imagine you had a folder of images in *.bmp format.  File sizes of bmps are larger than jpg files because they contain more information.  To convert these bmp files to jpgs you could open a .bmp file in a graphics program (such as photoshop), select processes (such as ‘save for web’), set the format to convert to, and finally, save the file “as” filename.jpg.  Converting each image takes about five to six “manual” steps, depending on how you opened the source files and where you save the destination files.  If you had a folder with 100 images, it becomes tedious repetition.  There are better ways to do this.

You could create a batch process or “macro” in your graphics app that lets you record the individual steps performed on a single image, and then point the macro at a folder of source images and a folder to save the converted images.  Photoshop has “batch processing” that handles this fine.  Other programs (such as THE GIMP) are “scriptable” but some knowledge of Python is probably a must.

So we now have a way to convert images en masse with a GUI app, but is it the most efficient way? Is it reusable? It is reusable but you’ll probably have to reset the macro/batch settings if your source and destination folders change the next time you had to convert a lot of images.

Is there a quicker way to accomplish the same thing more or less?  There is, in my opinion, a better way perform mass image conversion in a predictable, reliable way.  It requires the command line terminal and an application known as “ImageMagick“.

Using Linux (the bash shell and ImageMagick) here are the 2 steps:

1. Use the “cd” command to get to the directory that has the bmp images
2. Issue this command:  mogrify -format jpg *.bmp
The above command was found at http://www.ofzenandcomputing.com/zanswers/1016 and I thank them for posting it.  It accomplished in one line the same work as a 50-line shell script.
Result: All of your bmp files have been converted and saved-as jpgs in the same directory
Warning: the “mogrify” command usually replaces the source, but when changing formats, Imagemagick is intelligent enough not to destroy the original bmp file.

2a. To store the new files in a folder other than the source (e.g. “bmpFiles/jpgs”), add the -path option in front of -format.  The command becomes:  mogrify -path jpgs/ -format jpg *bmp
The folder specified by -path must first exist, or the command will fail.

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