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iMessage adapter for Hubot
AppleScript CoffeeScript
Branch: master

Merge pull request #5 from rgov/master

Fix argument escaping in Messages event handler
latest commit ec1163b477
@lazerwalker authored

Hubot iMessage Adapter


This is an adapter for Hubot that lets you communicate with Hubot via Apple iMessage.

Installation and Setup


Since Apple doesn't (currently) offer an API for accessing the iMessage protocol, the only way Hubot can use iMessage is by communicating with through AppleScript. As such, using hubot-imessage requires Hubot to be running on a machine with OS X 10.8 or newer. You will also need a functioning node.js installation.

Warning: It is possible the current code won't work if you are running Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8). If that's the case, you should check out the legacy-support tag. (If you can confirm or deny this, chiming in on the relevant issue page would be appreciated.)


Download the latest version of Hubot (more info at Extract it somewhere, and then add both hubot and hubot-imessage to the dependency section of your package.json:

dependencies: {
    // more dependencies here...
    "hubot": ">=1.4.6",
    "hubot-imessage": ">=0.0.1"

You likely also want to add the hubot-scripts package as well; see the regular Hubot documentation for more info.

Run npm install to properly install your dependencies.


At this point, you've got a basic Hubot instance, but the Hubot iMessage adapter requires some additional setup.

  1. You'll need to set up a secondary iMessage account for your Hubot. Sign up for a new Apple ID at and sign in to it from your desktop

  2. In order for to properly route conversations to Hubot, it needs to be set up to run an AppleScript in response to events. Open up, then its Preferences pane from the title menu. Go to the General tab.

  3. Select "Open Scripts Folder" from the "AppleScript handler" dropdown.

  4. Copy $HUBOT_PATH/node_modules/hubot-imessage/src/Hubot Event Handler.applescript (substitute $HUBOT_PATH with the actual path to your Hubot instance) to the iMessage scripts folder.

  5. Open the copy of Hubot Event Handler.applescript and replace $HUBOT_PATH with the path to your Hubot instance.

  6. In, close the Preferences window and re-open it. Select the "Hubot Event Handler" script from the "AppleScript handler" dropdown.

  7. is now configured to accept iMessages from any user, but Hubot will only respond to commands sent from iMessage users in its whitelist. Hubot reads in a comma-separated list of iMessage IDs from the environment variable HUBOT_IMESSAGE_HANDLES to know who to trust. iMessage IDs typically take the format of +15551234 or You can easily set this from your Terminal with something like:

    export HUBOT_IMESSAGE_HANDLES=+15551234,


Run Hubot with the following command:

$HUBOT_PATH/bin/hubot -a imessage

From there, you can treat it just as you would any normal Hubot instance with regards to installing custom scripts, etc.

Warnings and Miscellanea

Typically, you'd host a Hubot on Heroku or something similar, but requiring OS X makes that impossible. There are a few unfortunate snags I've found from running Hubot / hubot-imessage on a consumer desktop OS:

  • doesn't let you sign in to multiple iMessage accounts at the same time. If you want to be able to send iMessages from your main account on your home computer, you may want to set up a second machine to act as a dedicated Hubot server.

  • Hubot won't respond to you while the computer running it is asleep. However, the commands you send will queue up. When your computer comes awake, Hubot will process and respond to messages in the order in which they were received.

  • When using Hubot in a chat room setting, many commands require you to type Hubot's name before the command. Hubot-imessage eliminates that requirement for the sake of typing brevity. If you enter help to get a list of commands, some may still include mentioning Hubot's name in the usage instructions, but it is NOT necessary.


All iMessage-specific functionality for hubot-imessage lives in AppleScript scripts rather than the core CoffeeScript code, meaning it would be really easy to adapt to support any arbitrary AppleScript-based I/O flow.

To send incoming text to Hubot, just run the script with three arguments: the user ID of the sender (any string, provided it's whitelisted in the HUBOT_IMESSAGE_HANDLES env variable), the message to be sent, and a friendly name for the sender. If Hubot is running, it will receive the message.

When Hubot is ready to send a message out to a user, it calls Send iMessage.applescript with two arguments: the user ID of the user (corresponding to the user ID passed in with a received message) and the message to send. You can easily replace that with your own custom AppleScript that takes in those same arguments.


I gladly accept pull requests!


(c) Michael Walker Licensed under the MIT License. See LICENSE for more info.

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