Barkings! | The SmallDog Apple Blog

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Automate Your Mac

The other day, my boss said to me, “You know what a great article topic would be? Automator, because it seems like powerful tool that everyone forgets about.” The thing is, I completely agree with her. Automator is a useful tool that was a complete mystery to me until I was tasked with this topic. The geek inside me told me to fire up the program and start playing — which I did.

The funny thing is, I didn’t get past the landing page. I was confronted with choice of a type for my document, and I had no idea which to choose, so I turned to Google for my answer. I searched for tutorials about the app, and found one that might actually be useful for me.

It would be rather silly to just regurgitate that article in its entirety so here is a link to the tutorial incase you are interested as well. Batch Resize Pictures In OS X Using Automator.

What I found was a tutorial allowing me to create a application that would automatically resize, convert to a png and rename an image file all at once. You might think that these are simple operations and wonder why anyone would bother. However, I often have to resize images to make them web-ready and I prefer to save them as a png file. So what this app (that I created) allows me to do is simply drag an image file on top of the app icon and each action is completed in succession pretty much instantly. Now I have a file on my desktop saved in the appropriate file type with the name I chose…and an extra 5 minutes of my day to work on something else.

Now from my brief use of Automator, I can see where there might be some limitations. I’m sure it isn’t as powerful as writing your own applescript plugin, but it certainly has the ease-of-use that Apple is known for. After completing one tutorial, I felt like I had a solid enough understanding of how Automator worked to start creating my own apps. At the very least, I felt like I wasn’t going to damage my computer horribly by writing some monstrous automated function that would erase my hard drive.

I highly recommend to anyone who does the same thing over and over again on a Mac to take a look at Automator to see if it could benefit your workflow. Worst case scenario is that it won’t, and you go back to your same old routine that you were dong before.

I would love to hear if any of our readers currently use Automator and what you use it for. Email me your thoughts!

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