Blog Archives

Automator (Mac)

Automator Logo

With Leopard on the way in a few days, its many new shiny applications may have you dazzled. Rewind a bit back to the release of Tiger, and you may remember this little guy above. Some of you may have gathered his usefulness from the start, and if so, congratulations. If you were like me, however, you probably checked him out because the logo was cool, then got confused and perhaps scared by the application and quit it, never to use it again.

Well, if you’re still in that situation, let me fill you in on a few things.

Automator is simply an application builder. You won’t be able to build complicated things like Safari (as far as I know), but, for example, things such as ‘Jpegify’ (which I made in a few minutes), which turns any image file into a jpeg just through click and drag. It runs on a simple flow of commands, along the lines of ‘Get file’ -> ‘Change file to jpeg’ -> ‘Delete old file’. By dragging my large png file onto the program icon on my dock, it becomes a jpeg in a few seconds, saving me the trouble of opening Fireworks and manually saving it as a different file.

Anyway, I’ll go into that another time.

There are many things you can do with many programs, and once you get the hang of it you can make quite a few interesting things. It will rarely be something revolutionary, but it will definitely save time and effort. My mate made an application that ran Quicktime in full screen WITHOUT Quicktime Pro, which was nice. Here’s a very brief tutorial; I will expand on it later with pictures and whatnot in a later post about pictures.

1) Open Automator
2) Select the relevant application
3) Select the relevant command and drag it into the workflow
4) Adjust the command to your liking
5) Rinse and repeat
6) Save as either a workflow or an application. Perhaps give it a nice icon.

There are bound to be better tutorials out there, so google it. If you’ve ever found yourself repeating the same long-winded actions over and over again, you won’t regret automating it.