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OS X is an operating system that is often touted as user friendly, and as such, the user base has been growing at a steady pace. There are many apps and programs that make OS X user friendly, however, most users only use a small handful of these. This is a shame, as there are a number of great programs out there that can make OS X even easier to use.
One lesser known Mac OS X program is Automator – an OS X program that was designed to help automate everyday tasks. Automator has many uses, and upon first glance it seems a little complicated. The truth is: it’s only as complicated as you make it. Here’s a brief overview of Automator and how to make your first automated application.
Automator in brief
Automator is found in your Applications folder, and is the app with the robot holding a grey pipe. When you open Automator, the Choose a template for your workflow window pops up with different options. The three most popular items are:
After selecting a workflow type, you’re taken to the main Automator screen. It’s comprised of three main parts:
There are also four buttons on the top right of the window. These are used for recording specific steps in the workflow, and if you have chosen to create a simple workflow, these will allow you to execute it.
Create your first automated workflow
Here’s how you can use Automator to create an application that pulls text from a PDF document.
To see if the application works, pick a PDF file and drag it onto the application you’ve just created. You should see a new document with the same name as the PDF, but with .txt in the name. All the text from the PDF should be in this document. This is just one of the many things you can do with Automator. You can make more complex workflows by dragging other actions into the Workflow pane. Want to get your calendar to remind you it’s the weekend and play Kenny Loggins’ Highway to the Danger Zone every Friday afternoon at 5:00 pm? With Automator, it’s possible.
If you have any questions about Automator, or any other Mac feature, give us a shout, we can help.