impaste: pasting images to piped commands on macOS

I wanted the ability to paste the image on my clipboard into a command in the macOS terminal.

It turns out pbpaste only works with textual data - so copying a portion of a screenshot to my clipboard (using CleanShot X) and running the following produced a 0 byte file:

pbpaste > /tmp/screenshot.png

With some initial clues from Feraidoon Mehri in a GitHub issue followed by some ChatGPT and Claude 3 Opus prompting I got to the following script, saved as ~/.local/bin/impaste on my machine (that folder is on my PATH) and made excutable with chmod 755 ~/.local/bin/impaste:


# Generate a unique temporary filename
tempfile=$(mktemp -t clipboard.XXXXXXXXXX.png)

# Save the clipboard image to the temporary file
osascript -e 'set theImage to the clipboard as «class PNGf»' \
  -e "set theFile to open for access POSIX file \"$tempfile\" with write permission" \
  -e 'write theImage to theFile' \
  -e 'close access theFile'

# Output the image data to stdout
cat "$tempfile"

# Delete the temporary file
rm "$tempfile"

Now I can copy an image to my clipboard and run this:

impaste > /tmp/image.png

Or pipe impaste into any command that accepts images.

Created 2024-04-04T16:55:28-07:00, updated 2024-04-04T17:48:31-07:00 · History · Edit