Automator Matt 14 Mar 2005

18 comments Latest by Garry

Alright, just a few more weeks until the Tiger is let out of its cage. Spotlight, the desktop search that searches your entire system, will be damn useful, but I'm most curious to try out Automator which lets you create custom workflows easily (and share them).

You can easily automate tasks like renaming a large group of files, resizing dozens of images to fit an iPhoto slideshow or creating iCal birthday events using Address Book contacts, then repeat those tasks again and again. Simple and easy-to-understand application Actions are the building blocks, so you don't have to write any code. Each Action has all of the options and settings you need, so you don't have to work hard to figure out how to make it work.

18 comments (comments are closed)

Jack Shedd 14 Mar 05

Automator is an odd duck. While certain “workflows” (what a positively horrible name for these things) are going to be very easy to create (insanely easy really), the meat of major tasks is still going to require dropping down into actual AppleScript.

Still not sure why the AppleScript developers decided Automator modules needed to be in C++.

Adam Michela 14 Mar 05

I see a new Powerbook in the very near future >;)

Automator looks like a very cool and very overlooked feature of Tiger.

I must admit, I’ve spent most of my time drooling over Spotlight and Dashboard while completely ignoring the cool lil robot.

Interesting that Apple is adding so many “to-share” features.

Michael Spina 14 Mar 05

Just watched that movie. Wow, that is slick. I used to use Applescript but gave up on it because I didn’t use it often enough to memorize it. And doing anything productive was a pain because I had to keep looking up syntax, and I knew I’d forget it before the next time I used it. This might be perfect for people like myself who aren’t full time programmers/power users but still like the idea of stringing some simple utilities together.

Michael Spina 14 Mar 05

Just watched the Spotlight movie. Do they use a variation on the Yellow Fade Technique to show search phrases in PDF’s? If so, that is a perfect application for it. It’s as if they’re saying “Here’s why we think this page is relevant, now we’ll get out of your way and let you read.” It looks like a blue oval around the word “Yosemeite” fades, but I’m not sure if that’s the OS or just the movie.

Jack Shedd 14 Mar 05

Jesper: poked around Apple’s newer documentation on Automater (hadn’t opened it since a much earlier seed), looks like indiviudal actions can now be defined in nice bundles (during an earlier seed, they were all written as C++ extensions). The newer docs lay out a pretty nice setup for it.

That’s what I get for not keeping up on things. Getting slapped.

Gnana 14 Mar 05

hope it isn’t an ‘april fool’s surprise! :)

Dan Boland 14 Mar 05

I hope Automator will enable batch printing. I still don’t understand why Apple left that feature out of OS X.

Jesper 14 Mar 05

Dan, just make a desktop printer and drag and drop. Immediate printing of single copies of those files. Not entirely batch printing, because you don’t get to set any settings, but it’s pretty close.

pb 14 Mar 05

Even then, AppleScript Automator actions can be written, too.

I was going to say…it would have been criminally dumb not support this via scripting.

Dan Boland 14 Mar 05

Not entirely batch printing, because you don’t get to set any settings, but it’s pretty close.

See, that’s the problem. The method you described is how it used to work in OS 9. (Aside - does anyone know when they reinstated this method in OS X? For a while, if you tried to do that with, say, PDFs, it would open Acrobat.) But as long as you set the printer to print Tabloid, it would batch print that way. It seems that this version of batch printing only prints letter size. That doesn’t do many favors to desktop publishers. They’re the ones that really miss the batch printing of old.

Jesper 14 Mar 05

Dan, I can’t really say I’m experienced with batch printing - my experience with Mac printing in general is pretty much confined to a few pages since I got my Powerbook and ages ago waiting several minutes for sub-megabyte documents to start printing over AppleTalk in System 7. Ah, memories… ;)

Shouldn’t opening the desktop printer manually, setting the default settings and then dropping the stuff on the dock icon do what you want for settings? (I’m not even checking this, I just think this is how it should work.) It’s a pain in the ass, I guess, and if it doesn’t even work that way then I agree that stuff is seriously broken.

Kobie Procter 24 Mar 05

You are correct. Currently, Automator leaves much to be desired in regards to batch printing and different paper sizes, tabloid in general. I’ve tried setting paper size in Automator, Print center, Preview……Just doesn’t work. Pages always come out on letter…