Link to a local file?


#1

I am using AirTable on OS X. I am using it to organize a private project that needs to link to hundreds of GB of local files so I can look at the file as I fill out information about it in the database. However, I cannot find any way to do this.

I found one thread on this topic that did not work at all for me; I do not want the file to open in a browser (and it won’t, regardless), I want it to open in its default software on my computer.

Is there anything I can do? Thanks.

EDIT: I want to add that they’re mostly video files. I’ve tried uploading one of them – even though I would never be able to upload them all – and even when it’s uploaded there is no way to easily play back the file. I just need it to open and play quickly, so uploading and redownloading something that’s 1) large, and 2) already on my computer is pretty pointless.


#2

Whether you can do that depends on your browser — and I don’t have enough experience with OS X to be able to advise. Typically, browsers block such behavior — that is, having a web link (as all Airtable links are) refer to a local file because of the immense possibility for harm. Since we’re talking about your PC and a base you set up, the problem is minimized, but you’ll most likely need to find an extension that allows such access to local files. If you can locate such a beast, then embedding a file:// URL should work.

Another possibility would be if you can map a seeming web link to a local drive – again, probably thanks to an extension. You could try linking to file://localhost/blahblahblah, but I expect the browser blocks that as well.


#3

On OS X you may be able to use what are called x-callback-url’s. These are URL’s that allow you to open applications installed on your Mac via a URL with parameters.

Here’s an example - I use a notes app called “Bear”. Bear provides a URL scheme that I can use to open the program and have it do something programatically, using a properly formatted URL with parameters.

The URL scheme looks like this:
bear://x-callback-url/[action]?[action parameters]&[x-callback parameters]

The first part, bear://x-callback-url, opens the Bear app.
The next part [action] is where I can define an action for the app to take, such as /create
Then we can give parameters - ?[action parameters], such as ?title=List&tags=dev,ruby, which will create a new note with the Title “List” and 2 tags - “dev” and “ruby”.

So the whole URL would be:
bear://x-callback-url/create?title=List&tags=dev,ruby

and clicking that URL from within Airtable will open Bear and Bear will create a new note with the Title and Tags defined.

So the next question is, does the program you want to use provide an x-callback-url scheme? A quick google search should be able to answer that for you. If you find that it does, and need further help with structuring URL’s, you can private message me if you’d like.

I’d suggest using Bear to play around with for learning how to use x-callback-url’s - it’s a free app which you can get here:

And they have excellent documentation on how to use their x-callback-url scheme here:
http://www.bear-writer.com/faq/X-callback-url%20Scheme%20documentation/


#4

@Natalie_Bates

I haven’t been able to find a video player that will respond to x-callback-url’s yet. I did come up with a workaround that requires just 1 extra click though. Here’s what I did:

Bear allows you to drop a file of just about any type into a note. I created a note and dropped in an .mp4 file:

Then I could place a URL in Airtable to open that particular note in bear:

That URL opens Bear (or focuses it if it’s already open), passes it the ID of the note I want to see (which I got by cmd/2-finger clicking on the note in Bear and selecting “Copy Note ID”), and then opens that note in a new window.

Since that note contains a Video file, I just double click on the video file displayed in the note - it opens in OS X’s preview player (I’m not sure if this plays sound or not, but there’s a button in the top right to open it in your default video player if you need that)(the video in the screenshot is a screen-recording of me doing something in Airtable, so it may look confusing, but you can see the play/pause controls in the bottom, and the QuickTime button in the top right):

Since you can drop pretty much any kind of file into Bear and it will create a link to preview the file, you could follow this pattern with any type of resource you need to link to from Airtable:

Hopefully that at least gives you a semi-workable solution. I’m glad you asked the question prompting me to research, because I think I will be using this myself!


#5

@Jeremy_Oglesby Wow, thank you so much for the detailed information! fwiw, I want to use VLC and it appears it has x-callback-url functionality, but I still need to get a grasp of the basics to figure it out.


#6

That documentation that regerences x-callback-url functionality is for the iOS version of VLC, unfortunately (see the title at the top of that wiki page). I haven’t been able to find similar functionality for MacOS.

I know that VLC has a robust Unix command line interface, so I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to create a URL that launches a particular file in VLC via the command line. I’ll get back to you if I’m able to come up with anything.


#7

Thank you so much for your help and information, I really appreciate it!