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Writing a simple Automator workflow

From: Mac OS X Mountain Lion Essential Training

Video: Writing a simple Automator workflow

In the few movies, I'm going to walk you through something called Automator. An Automator is an application that, as its name implies, helps you automate tasks on your Mac. And let's see how it works. I'll launch it. You can find this in the Utilities folder, by the way. And here is our Workflow window. When you first launch Automator, you'll see a template chooser and this shows you the kind of items that you can create with Automator. The simplest is a Workflow, you can also create Applications, Services, Print Plugins, Folder Action, Calendar Alarm, and Image Capture Plugin, and I'll show you a few of these as we go through this in the next few movies.

Writing a simple Automator workflow

In the few movies, I'm going to walk you through something called Automator. An Automator is an application that, as its name implies, helps you automate tasks on your Mac. And let's see how it works. I'll launch it. You can find this in the Utilities folder, by the way. And here is our Workflow window. When you first launch Automator, you'll see a template chooser and this shows you the kind of items that you can create with Automator. The simplest is a Workflow, you can also create Applications, Services, Print Plugins, Folder Action, Calendar Alarm, and Image Capture Plugin, and I'll show you a few of these as we go through this in the next few movies.

So I'm going to start with the simplest, which is Workflow. So I'll click on Choose. Now this is how it's set up. Along the left side you see a library entry, and this includes items that have actions, which are on the second pane, attached to them. So for example if I choose Calendar, you see all the actions that are connected to Calendar. If I choose Contacts, these are the actions that go with Contacts, and so on and so forth. If I want to see all of the actions, I click on Library, and then here they all are.

If I'm looking for a particular action and I know its name, I can just type in that keyword and I see any action that matches that keyword. And over here to the right is the Workflow area. This is where you string together actions to create your automation. So let's make something. Let's go to the desktop and I'm going to create a couple of folders. I'll call the first, Source, and I'll call the second one, Destination. I'm going to take the Source folder and drag it into my Workflow area.

This tells Automator to look at this item and then do something with it. So it knows where to look. Let's go to Files and folders. I want to get the folder contents. I'll drag that in here, and finally, now that I've got the contents of whatever this folder is, I want to do something with it. So I would like to copy the contents to a particular folder. In this case, I'd like to copy it to my Destination folder.

Now if I wanted to, I could navigate to it, but it's much easier if you have access to that item to simply drag it on top of the pop-up menu, and then it will appear. So, let's see if this thing works. And what exactly am I trying to do? Well the point of this Workflow is, anything that I put within this Source folder will copied to the Destination folder. So it's a cheap sort of backup. So let me create one more folder, and I'll call this Test. I'll now I open my Source folder and I'm going to make it small enough so that we can see Automator, as well as this folder, and I'll put Test into my Source folder.

Let's open the Destination folder, we'll make that small as well, and we'll put it down here. Now keep your eye on the folders and I'll click on Run. These check marks indicate, Hey, everything went well, and the bottom check mark indicates the whole Workflow completed. And if you kept your eyes on those folders, you notice that my Test folder has been copied to my Destination folder. Big picture here, you're thinking, "Well you know I could have just dragged it from one folder to the other," and that's true enough, but suppose that you this Source folder was where you put your daily work.

So at the end of the day you put all the work from that day into that Source folder, and this Destination folder doesn't live on this hard drive, but instead it lives on an external hard drive or some kind of online server. So, put your stuff in your Source folder, run that Workflow, and it will be automatically copied to your backup folder. So as I said, its kind of a cheap way to do a backup, but its very quick and very efficient. And that shows you the simplest kind of Workflow. As we proceed, I'll show you different kinds of workflows.

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This video is part of

Image for Mac OS X Mountain Lion Essential Training
Mac OS X Mountain Lion Essential Training

76 video lessons · 20978 viewers

Christopher Breen
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 4s
  2. 6m 56s
    1. Installing Mountain Lion
      6m 56s
  3. 47m 16s
    1. Personalizing the interface
      4m 11s
    2. Touring the Finder
      3m 29s
    3. Staying current with Software Update
      2m 52s
    4. Configuring Gatekeeper settings
      3m 17s
    5. Getting on the Internet
      5m 36s
    6. Setting up iCloud
      4m 55s
    7. Understanding AutoSave and documents in the cloud
      4m 42s
    8. Configuring Mail, Contacts, and Calendar
      4m 33s
    9. Configuring your printer
      3m 39s
    10. Protecting your data with Time Machine
      4m 28s
    11. Learn your way around the Mac App Store
      5m 34s
  4. 11m 17s
    1. Finding files with Spotlight
      6m 6s
    2. Digging deeper with Finder searches
      5m 11s
  5. 23m 35s
    1. Configuring basic personal preferences
      11m 15s
    2. Adjusting Input Device preferences
      9m 38s
    3. Examining the basic system preferences
      2m 42s
  6. 1h 13m
    1. Organizing workspaces with Mission Control
      5m 49s
    2. Modifying Language & Text settings
      4m 5s
    3. Optimizing Security & Privacy settings
      6m 18s
    4. Getting notifications
      4m 38s
    5. Configuring displays and AirPlay
      2m 20s
    6. Using Energy Saver
      6m 1s
    7. Setting up Bluetooth wireless devices
      3m 39s
    8. Sharing files on a network
      6m 1s
    9. Configuring sharing
      6m 28s
    10. Editing your users and groups
      6m 48s
    11. Setting rules with Parental Controls
      7m 4s
    12. Taking notes with Dictation & Speech
      6m 0s
    13. Exploring the Accessibility settings
      5m 54s
    14. Listening with Sound
      2m 53s
  7. 36m 2s
    1. Organizing your business with Mail
      12m 42s
    2. Scheduling time with Calendar
      8m 32s
    3. Keeping tabs with Contacts
      5m 30s
    4. Tracking your tasks with Reminders
      3m 39s
    5. Staying in touch using Messages
      5m 39s
  8. 37m 18s
    1. Tracking your documents in TextEdit
      7m 3s
    2. Looking up words in Dictionary
      1m 56s
    3. Keeping notes with Notes
      3m 48s
    4. Working with images in Preview
      6m 14s
    5. Working with PDFs in Preview
      4m 27s
    6. Installing fonts with Font Book
      4m 42s
    7. Posting a note in Stickies
      1m 55s
    8. Adding things up with Calculator
      4m 46s
    9. Organizing apps with Launchpad
      2m 27s
  9. 34m 5s
    1. Navigating the web
      3m 38s
    2. Working with bookmarks
      4m 49s
    3. Using Reading List
      2m 4s
    4. Saving web pages and creating web clips
      1m 44s
    5. Viewing and saving PDFs
      3m 24s
    6. Using Safari to search the web
      2m 20s
    7. Opening local files in Safari
      1m 59s
    8. Working with preferences in Safari
      11m 1s
    9. Managing your Internet footprint
      3m 6s
  10. 8m 48s
    1. Playing media in QuickTime
      4m 15s
    2. Recording videos with QuickTime
      4m 33s
  11. 10m 13s
    1. Video conferencing with FaceTime
      3m 38s
    2. Taking pictures in Photo Booth
      3m 47s
    3. The great utility of Image Capture
      2m 48s
  12. 12m 40s
    1. Writing a simple Automator workflow
      4m 15s
    2. Creating an Automator application
      2m 20s
    3. Setting up an Automator calendar workflow
      2m 31s
    4. Creating an Automator service
      3m 34s
  13. 22m 1s
    1. Managing processes in Activity Monitor
      5m 13s
    2. Formatting, partitioning, and repairing storage devices
      8m 58s
    3. Taking care of your passwords
      4m 1s
    4. Setting up a Windows install with Boot Camp
      3m 49s
  14. 14m 57s
    1. Creating a boot drive
      3m 19s
    2. Understanding and configuring permissions
      4m 5s
    3. Exploring troubleshooting techniques
      7m 33s
  15. 19m 35s
    1. Getting your game on
      4m 1s
    2. Integrating with Facebook and Twitter
      2m 38s
    3. Advanced tips and tricks
      9m 35s
    4. Sharing files with AirDrop
      3m 21s
  16. 30s
    1. Goodbye
      30s

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