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Summary:

Since first appearing in Tiger, Automator has brought programming to the masses in a simple drag and drop interface. An entire ecosystem has sprung up around Automator, using its ability to create and distribute complex workflows and actions, and the ability for developers to provide Automator […]

automator_icon

Since first appearing in Tiger, Automator has brought programming to the masses in a simple drag and drop interface. An entire ecosystem has sprung up around Automator, using its ability to create and distribute complex workflows and actions, and the ability for developers to provide Automator with actions specific to their application. If you are looking for a way to automate a repetitive task, chances are there may already be an action or workflow built to do what you need.

The best resource, and the first stop on the way to finding the perfect automation solution, is Apple’s own download page. One I found that was immediately useful was the attach2mail action, which gives the Finder a contextual menu to attach the selected Finder items in a new email in Mail. If nothing in the Apple site seems right, Automator.us, Automator World, and Automator Actions each offer collections of user-submitted actions and workflows.

I’d also suggest checking out the excellent packages available from Automator-Actions and Automated Workflows that give you quick access to bundles of actions revolving around certain needs (Productivity, Photoshop, FileMaker, etc.). Automated Workflows also offers a custom workflow development service, so if you truly cannot find what you are looking for, they’ll create it for you!

Finally, as an example of what can be done with Automator, there is the open source project OttoMate, a complete automated web testing system.

Automator may very well be one of the forgotten gems of OS X, but there are still plenty of resources out there to get started with your own personal automation system.

What are some tasks that you use Automator for? Do you use it regularly? What are some other Automator resources you’ve found useful?

  1. David Pruett Monday, March 2, 2009

    Yea, it is great, but when is Apple going to start supporting it with, you know, it’s own applications? Numbers, Pages (Keynote has some support but why do they call it “Presentations”. iTunes is supported but they call it “Music”. Automator could be much better than it is, but it lacks Apple’s support.

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  2. We had Sal Soghoian offer a guest post on Automator in education. Really brilliant (and easy) stuff. http://www.digmo.co.uk/software/sal-soghoian-automator-for-education/

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  3. @digmo Great link, thanks!

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  4. No bother Jon, feel free to mention this article in the comments on the DigMo! post if you want. Automator is brilliant, wish I had started using it years ago… I am no pro but learning slowly.

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  5. timely article. was just using some simple automator actions to do some stuff the other day, and was looking for some resources. thanks!

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  6. Hi
    Thanks for the post.
    I’m actually looking for a tool that will automated a daily action on my Laptop.
    But, I have an Acer laptop with Vista on.
    Is there anything you are familiar with?
    Can you suggest me what to use?
    Please put a note on that?

    Thanks,
    Amit

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