automator

I love Automator.

It’s a powerful program that comes bundled with OS X that allows you to automate tasks and actions on your mac. I’ve just started playing around with it, but it’s an incredibly powerful tool that can enhance your workflow.

For instance, every Friday I need to send out an email to our staff to remind them to get me their agenda items for our next staff meeting. I used to just try to remind myself each week…and that didn’t really work out. So then I went to the next step. I created an iCal alarm for 10am each day. This was effective, but I still had to respond to the alarm. I had to open Mail.app, create a message, choose the recipients, type my message and then send it.

Not hard, but a bit tedious.

So I created an Automator action that would accomplish this whole task for me on it’s own.

Here are the steps I took:

1. Open Automator.
2. Create a new “iCal Alarm”

3. Select “Mail” in the left column to only show Mail.app specific actions. Then drag “New Mail Message” onto the window on the right.

4. Enter the information for the email recipients, subject and message. You can also select which email account you want to send the message from (if you have multiple accounts).

5. Now select “Send Outgoing Messages” and drag it beneath the “New Mail Message” action.

6. Save the Automator file.

7. iCal will open. Set the parameters of the iCal event. (I created a separate iCal Calendar named “Automator” for all of my Automator events). Notice that the alarm isn’t a noise. Instead the alarm is to open the Automator file. Make sure to set the “repeat” setting in the iCal if you want this to be a reoccurring event.

If you’ve done this properly, Automator will create your email and send it off for you at the time you specify and at the repeat value you set (i.e. every Friday at 10am).

This is just scratching the surface of what Automator can do. I’ve automated several different tasks on my mac (like backing up folders to my Dropbox account).

If you’d like to explore it a bit further and get an idea of Services (new to Snow Leopard), check out this video with Sal Saghoian from PixelCorps.tv.

Author: Erik

Erik lives in Bethalto, IL were he serves as the Executive Pastor at Cornerstone Church. He and his wife, Bethany, have two boys (Parker and Kent). He's an Apple fan and all around techie who loves Angry Birds and Words With Friends.

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4 Comments

  1. Erik.
    Everything in your walkthru, do you know if it’s Snow Leopard specific, or will it work with Leopard?

    I’m a PowerPC guy.

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  2. Evan,

    At the end of my post, I mention Services. That is new in Snow Leopard. Actually, I think services were available in Leopard, but they were streamlined and enhanced and in Snow Leopard. Part of this (I think…and may be wrong) that it was included with Automator.

    As far as Automator itself, I don’t know how much changed in SL. The initial “template” selector has more options in SL, but you’d have to play around with it to see if it would still allow you to create an iCal alarm. My guess would be that it’s possible, just that with SL it’s more straightforward.

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  3. The Leopard look was a little bit different.
    I had to create the work flow at an iCal Plugin vs an iCal Alarm Workflow.

    I’m assuming that iCal needs to be open for this to run?

    Post a Reply
  4. Evan,

    iCal doesn’t need to be open as this works like any iCal alarm you make. You Mac does need to be on however, so make it for a time when you typically have your computer up and running.

    Erik

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