Automator (software)

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Developed by Apple Inc.
Latest release 2.0.2 (160) / June 24, 2008
Operating system Mac OS X
Type Automation
License Proprietary
Website Apple: Automator

Automator is an application developed by Apple for Mac OS X that implements point-and-click (or drag-and-drop) creation of workflows for automating repetitive tasks. Automator enables the repetition of tasks across a wide variety of programs, including the Finder, the Safari web browser, iCal, Address Book and others. It can also work with third-party applications such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. Automator was first released with Mac OS X Tiger (10.4).


[edit] Ease of use

Although Automator uses AppleScript and/or Cocoa, it requires no expertise in these languages whatsoever. However, the concept would be familiar to those used to Unix pipes: the output of the last action becomes the input of the next (though the user can optionally choose for an action to ignore the input from the previous action). Unlike Unix pipes, however, Automator workflows are sequential: each action is completed before the next action in the workflow begins.

[edit] How to use it

Automator comes with a library of many Actions (file renaming, finding linked images, creating a new mail message, etc.), all of which act as individual steps in a Workflow document. A Workflow document then can be used to carry out repetitive tasks. A user can also save these Workflows so that it can be used over and over again, whenever it is needed. Unix command line scripts and AppleScripts can also be invoked as Actions. The actions are linked together in a Workflow. The Workflow can be saved as an application, Workflow file or a contextual menu item.

There is an 'Options' disclosure icon at the bottom of each action that shows a checkbox, allowing the action to be shown when run. This means that a task that may require slight tweaks every time it is run can present the same dialog to the user when the workflow runs as the options available in the action — in other words, setting parameters at runtime.

[edit] Examples

Included are these example workflows:

  • Copy Unread Mail to iPod Notes
  • Import MobileMe Photos
  • Process Images
  • Change the names of documents

And for developers, the project code is provided for these workflows:

  • Adjust Gamma
  • Get Process Information
  • Randomizer
  • Translate Text

The workflow to the right, for example, can be used to upload a screenshot to a web server. The 'Upload to FTP' action is one of the extra Automator actions that can be downloaded from Apple's download page.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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