Creating A Custom Chime On Your Mac With Crontab
Wednesday June 19, 2019. 03:00 PM , from MacMost
If you want to set a custom chime on your Mac you can do so by setting a crontab with the Terminal. You can set it to chime any any interval you wish. It can play a system sound, custom sound, or speak the time in a number of voices. You can even have it only work between certain hours of the day.
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Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Let's use the Terminal to create a custom chime for a Mac.
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So in System Preferences, under Date & Time, Clock, you have the ability to set Announce the time and have it speak the time on the hour and half hour or quarter hour. That's fine if you want it to actually speak the time and you want to do it at one of those intervals. But if you want it to play a sound or wanted to do it every ten minutes or twenty minutes or something then you're going to have to create your own. So to do this run the Terminal app.
What we're going to do is we're going to use something called Crontab which is the way commands run on a regular schedule. First, let's learn how to play a sound. To do that we're going to use the command afplay. To get a sound to play we can find a sound we have on our hard drive or we can use one of the system sounds. I'm going to go into Finder here and then go to the Computer level and in the Hard drive, System, Library, I can look for the Sounds folder. In there I see the system sounds. So I'm going to use the Morse one here and to put the path to that in there very easily I'm just going to drag and drop it into terminal and you can see it inserts the path. I could have typed that as well. Now if I hit Return terminal will do what I want which is to play that sound. So I'm going to select that and copy that.
Now I'm going to setup the regular schedule for this command by typing Crontab dash e. This enters an editor, the vi editor, which allows us to add lines to this which will do things on a regular schedule. To add a line I'm going to do i, so press the i key for insert, and I'm going to type the command. The first five things are the time. The minute, the hour, the day, the month, and the day of the week. You can use an asterisk to represent any. So five asterisks say basically play every minute of every hour of every day of every month of every day of the week.
If I wanted it to be only on, say, the 25th minute after an hour I could do 25 there and then it play it at 1:25, 2:25, etc. If I wanted it to play every ten minutes I could do asterisk slash 10 and it would do it every ten minutes of every hour of every day, etc. For a test here I'm going to have it do every minute and the command I'm just going to paste in there is that afplay command. Now to Save this I hit the Escape key to exit insert mode. I hit colon to start the command. You can see at the bottom there is command. W for write and Q for quit.
I hit Return and I'm going to get this dialogue now saying that the Terminal wants to make a change here and I'm going to have to allow it to make a change to that Crontab. To test it I can go and do Crontab-L and see what's there. Now let's wait for the minute to change and we'll hear the sound. There we go! So now we could modify this. I could go and do Crontab -e again and I can hit the i key for insert again and I could add /10 after that for every ten minutes say or /15 for every fifteen minutes. I'm going to Escape, colon, w, q, to exit.
Let's try something more interesting. Let's have it actually speak the time. So you could use the Say command to say anything. We could have that speak the time by using the Date command. So we could do date and then in quotes plus and then percent, lower case l, colon, percent, capital M. (date "+%l:%M"). This will print out the date in a format like that. So now we can actually have it say that by piping that same thing. Pipe is the character that's between the delete and Return key on your keyboard. Shift and it's a vertical bar. Then you can say send that to Say. (10:53)
We can furthermore go and do something with the voice. We can say dash v (-v) to give it a different voice. There's a variety of different voices. If you do Say -v and space? you get a list of all the voices. You can try these out by using this command again but with another one. So we can do, for instance, (voice says 10:53). So let's copy that and you think we should be able to paste that directly into that Crontab. But we can't. We have to create a special shell script to do that.
So we're going to go to our Documents folder and then I'm going to create this file by typing vi to edit directly and calling it chime.sh for shell script. Now I'm going to do i to paste in this with command v and then I'm going to Esc colon w q, and it writes it out. Now if I do LS to list the directory there I see everything that's in my Documents folder including that chime.sh. If I do period slash chime.sh and I'll test it out. You can see there I forgot to set permissions for it. Set you want to set permissions. chmod 755 to make it executable chime.sh. Now when I test it out, it works.
So now I can edit the Cron and change the command here from playing this sound to using my shell script. So I'll go to the end here, i for insert, delete all of this, and then I'll give it a path to that file. For testing purposes let's change it to do it every minute again. So I'll do Esc: w q to write it out. It'll ask me to Save it. Now let's wait for the minute to change. (voice says 10:57). There we go. We have our chime anyway we want it. With a sound or with a spoken time.
Note that if you wanted to run only between certain hours you can easily do that by setting it up like this. So let's do i for insert, say every 15 minutes and instead of asterisk for the hour I can say, okay between 7 and say 5 in the afternoon which would be 17. So hours 7 and 17 in a 24 hour clock. We'll get it starting at 7 o'clock we'll go all the way to 5:45 which would be the last occurrence that fits within this. If we wanted to only go to say 4:45 you would do this. If you wanted it to do 4:45 but also 5:00 then what you would do is add a new line here with the same command on it and say you wanted it to do at exactly 5:00. You could do zero for on the hour and then 17, for 5 o'clock. This separate line would just give you that one 5 o'clock chime. These would give you everything from 7 o'clock to 4:45.
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