Introduction to Automator

Automator, first released with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, is an application that brings the power of workflow automation to the user level, with no programming required!

Within Automator, users work with two main types of components, actions and workflows. Actions are built by developers, and each action’s purpose is to perform a single task, such as opening a file, checking your email, or rotating an image. Workflows are designed and constructed by users, by piecing together actions in a sequence, to create a virtual assembly line of automated tasks.

Once constructed, workflows may be saved and triggered by a user in a variety of ways. Workflows may be run from within the Automator application, saved and run as an application, as a Folder Action, as an iCal alarm, as a print workflow, and more.

Automator’s Reach

Automator is installed with over 150 different actions for performing a variety of tasks in Apple applications and the operating system. However, the power of Automator may be extended even further by installing new Automator-compatible applications, or by downloading and installing actions from third-party developers.

Apple applications that are Automator-ready include the following:

  • Address Book
  • Aperture
  • Font Book
  • iDVD
  • iPhoto
  • iTunes
  • Keynote
  • Mail
  • Safari
  • TextEdit

Automator actions are also available for many third-party applications, including:

  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • FileMaker Pro
  • Graphic Converter
  • iView MediaPro
  • NetNewsWire
  • QuarkXPress
  • Transmit

Uses for Automator

Your usage of Automator is limited only by your imagination, and by the actions that are available to you. Since each action performs a single specific task, multiple actions can be intertwined in virtually infinite ways to create a workflow that meets your very unique needs. Some common uses for Automator include:

  • Backups
  • Desktop Publishing
  • File/Folder Creation
  • Image Processing
  • PDF Processing
  • Podcasting
  • Video Processing
  • Website Maintenance