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help with workflow for sending brief email messages

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First time trying to set up my own workflow...I found someone's blog post about using Alfred to send quick email messages: http://deskew.com/blog/?p=179 


I followed all the instructions, but I'm getting the following error message when I test it:

[ERROR: alfred.workflow.action.script] Code 126: /bin/bash: /Users/lmachado1/Dropbox/Alfred/extensions/scripts/quickmessage.py: Permission denied

How do I fix this error? For your reference, the python script code is below. Thanks in advance!

#!/usr/bin/env python3

#Edit these for your own server
smptServer = 'something.something.com'
sender =     'Something@something.com'

username = "Something@something.com"
password = "somepassword"

import sys
import argparse

from smtplib import SMTP_SSL as SMTP       # this invokes the secure SMTP protocol (port 465, uses SSL)
#from smtplib import SMTP                  # use this for standard SMTP protocol   (port 25, no encryption)
from email.mime.text import MIMEText

parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(usage = "echo <content> | quickmessage -s <subject> -r <recipient>" )
parser.add_argument("-r", "--recipient", required = True, help = "Email address of person to whom you want to send the message")
parser.add_argument("-s", "--subject", required = True, help = "Subject line of the message")
parser.add_argument("-m", "--message", required = True, help = "The contents of the message you want to send")
args = parser.parse_args()

subject = args.subject
recipient = args.recipient

#Read the body of the message from stdin
#body = ""
#f = sys.stdin
#for line in f:
#   body = body + "\n" + line
body = args.message

   theMessage = MIMEText(body, "plain")
   theMessage['Subject'] = subject
   theMessage['From'] = sender # some SMTP servers will do this automatically, not all

   theConnection = SMTP(smptServer)
   theConnection.login(username, password)
       theConnection.sendmail(sender, recipient, theMessage.as_string())
       print ("Mail sent: " + body) #Show this in notification center if you want

except Exception as e:
   print ( "Unable to send email message: " + str(e) )
   sys.exit( "Unable to send email message: " + str(e) )

Edited by lmachado
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Funny I was thinking of writing something like this myself a few days ago, but decided against it b/c I didn't think Alfred was the right vehicle given the need to enter recipients, subject and message.


But - if you want to try to use this script - those directions leave out a critical step.  After you copy the quickmessage.py file in place, you need to change the file permissions to make it executable.  In Terminal cd into that directory then use the command chmod 755 quickmessage.py (brief discussion of permissions here: https://www.linode.com/docs/tools-reference/modify-file-permissions-with-chmod ).  


A couple other issues I see with this approach are that 1) (trivially) line 4 should be smtpServer not smptServer and 2) (more seriously) this script requires you to hard-code your e-mail password in plain text.  Also 3) as written the script requires you to install python 3 which isn't installed on Mavericks by default.

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Thanks so much for your reply dfay! I completely agree that Alfred is not a great vehicle for email messages...I'm creating this workflow for quickly emailing short notes to myself, similar to this iOS app I use: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/captio-email-yourself-1-tap/id370899391?mt=8 - ie. "note remember to pick up milk" would send an email to myself with "remember to pick up milk" in both the subject and message body. I believe I know how to modify the workflow to make that work...


I also don't like that the script requires me to hard-code my email password in plain text...But since I'm just using this to send notes to myself, that's ok...I'll just create an email specifically for this, so the security isn't a concern...


Thanks again for your help! I'll make these changes now and report back with the results :)

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I'm the one who wrote the script at deskew.com and just noticed this discussion thanks to someone emailing me yesterday. So a couple of observations.


First of all, thanks for noticing the permissions issue. I forgot to mention that and have updated my blog entry accordingly. Easy to forget that such things are not obvious to users who don't do command line stuff a lot. You're also correct that it requires Python 3 and I've added into to the blog as to where to get it. Like Apple, I like to use the latest and greatest rather than legacy stuff  :-)


While  smptServer rather than  smtpServer (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, for anyone who cares) is certainly a typo, it's a variable name and the same variable name is used everywhere, therefore the typo has ZERO semantic impact on the behavior of the program, so it isn't an "issue", no matter how trivial. Wanted to clear that up just in case someone thinks it is in fact an issue.


You're correct that password is plain text. But it's in a file you control on your own machine. The password that goes out to the server is encrypted and that's really all that matters.


However, most importantly, I find that the ability to send quick emails to a few of my friends (and my wife) by simply typing their name and a message directly into Alfred to be extremely productive. I can be in the middle of working on any project (development, writing, music, whatever) and it is not neccessary to switch away from that activity to open your mail program and fill in all the fields just to send a quick message. I think that once you try it, it becomes a key utility that does not interrupt your workflow.


Clearly lots of ways to make this better -- I tried to figure out how to grab the email address directly from contacts so that I wouldn't be restricted to just a few people. I forget now why I wasn't able to do it but it's low priority at this point.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi, I'd really love to get this working but am stuck.  I'd be v grateful for a bit of help.  


If I run >python quickmessage.py -r blahblah@me.com -s "Quick message from me" -m "hello" to test if I have the quickmessage script set up ok, I get an error.


Unable to send email message: SMTP AUTH extension not supported by server.


If I switch to SMTP_SSL in the script I get


Unable to send email message: [Errno 60] Operation timed out


Is this because I am trying to use iCloud as my SMTP server (smptServer = 'smtp.mail.me.com'), and Apple does not permit this usage?  


And if so, is there some sort of alternative set up that will allow me to send a message that comes from (or appears to come from) my blahblah@me.com email address?


Thanks very much for any help, and thanks for sharing this workflow!

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Great - so I've fixed my username now, that should be the full address @me.com according to that apple doc.


But how do I set the required port of 587?


I tried changing line 15 to:


from smtplib import SMTP_SSL(,587,,,,) as SMTP       # this invokes the secure SMTP protocol (port 465, uses SSL)


but this just gives a syntax error:


  File "quickmessage.py", line 15

    from smtplib import SMTP_SSL(,587,,,,) as SMTP       # this invokes the secure SMTP protocol (port 465, uses SSL)


SyntaxError: invalid syntax


Probably making some basic Python error (total newbie on this) - if there is an obvious quick fix then please could you let me know?


Is the local_hostname required - what should go here?


Thanks so much for the instant response!

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I'm regret I'm not in a position to teach Python right now (sorry) but you certainly don't change the port in an import statement so dump those parentheses and make that line back to


from smtplib import SMTP_SSL as SMTP 

(Note, that I have not tested this with SSL support)



The port is set when you create the connection, which is on line 46 of my code



   theConnection = SMTP(smtpServer,26)



However, if you have to use SSL, then you might have to deal with certificates (typically you will just want to ignore them). There's an example on stackexchange that might help you




However, be aware that python3 (which I used) has slightly different syntax from the older python2



Sorry I can't help you completely troubleshoot this.

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  • 11 months later...

So I had been using this just fine for quite a while now, and yesterday I got a new Macbook Pro so I installed python, copied the script over, confirmed permissions were properly set, etc...But it's not working for me on the new machine...Alfred isn't spitting any errors. Also, I get the notification saying that the mail was sent. However, I never receive an email...


I went into webmail for the sending account, figuring that I'd check there to see if the messages were in the sent mail folder, but the sent mail folder is completely empty. This tell me nothing, since I guess none of the notes were ever showing up in the sent folder. Any ideas what might be going wrong here?



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You aren't really providing enough information to work with.


Try running the script in your shell, and if your code isn't exactly as in your first post, post the source code (excluding your login details, naturally).


Which version of Python are you using? Where is it installed (e.g. /usr/local/bin/python3)?

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Yeah, I figured this wasn't enough info, but I wasn't sure what else to provide...Figured an expert could help guide me :)


Yes, python is found in /usr/local/bin/python3:


"$ sudo find / -name python3" in terminal results in:


find: /dev/fd/3: Not a directory

find: /dev/fd/4: Not a directory




I installed Python 3.5 from python.org



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Don't use "find" to find programs: it takes too long. Use "whereis" or "which".


Can you run "ls -l /usr/local/bin/python3" to see if that python3 is a symlink to the other one?


Also run "which python3" to see which one your system preferentially uses.


Then in your shell, run "python3 /path/to/your/script.py" and see what happens.

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$ ls -l /usr/local/bin/python3

lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  69 Sep 17 11:19 /usr/local/bin/python3 -> ../../../Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.5/bin/python3


$ which python3



when i run the script in the terminal, it looks like it runs successfully...gives me the "Mail sent: <message>" response:


$ /Library/Scripts/quickmessage.py -r emailaddy@email.com -s testing1235subaaaaaj -m testing1235msgasdfsdf

Mail sent: testing1235msgasdfsdf

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Geez, I feel like an idiot...they are all in spam...I didn't even think of checking because I've been using this workflow for over a year and never had this problem. I just looked, and only the notes I started sending today are in there - none before that. And I tried sending some notes just now from the computers I've been using this workflow on and they also went to spam. So odd that this randomly started happening just as I set up this workflow on a new machine...


Sorry for the trouble and thanks for your help!

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  • 3 weeks later...

So this morning this workflow/script stopped working...In the time it took me to write this post (about an hour as I had to deal with some work stuff in between) it suddenly started working again...So I figured I'd make the post anyway as I'm curious what may have caused this...


So, when running the workflow I was getting this error:

[ERROR: alfred.workflow.action.script] Unable to send email message: [Errno 60] Operation timed out

I tried running the script in terminal and I just get the same exact error:

Unable to send email message: [Errno 60] Operation timed out

My next thought was to login to the email I use to send these messages to make sure the username/password was still correct (I didn't change it, so it should be, but you know...testing...) - it's still the same.


So then my last thought was to login to my web host and make sure the mail server settings didn't get changed by my web host - nope, they are still the same...


So, it looks like nothing changed...It just suddenly stopped working, then an hour or so later it was working again...Any ideas why this happened?



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  • 8 months later...



I have a short cut: ctr + Z that let me send an email to myself quickly.

I found the solution in Forum or so. 

I worked a long time, but now it won't. I get: Send email to Geir Fossnes, but when I tap enter it goes to the wem site and search for "email Geir Fossnes" in Google.


What have I done to destroy this nice shortcut?


Sombody to help me?

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  • 1 month later...

Hi again!


YES I am sure that I could do this before in Alfred.

I used it massive.

The point is to send an email to myself I'm Mac Mail easily:


1. Tap a shortcut (ctr+z)

2. Write the message in the email

3. Send


The solution is like "Captio" for iPhone....Have a look on this tiny program in App store....(but it do not work on Mac)

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