Introducing Automator

Automator, like most programs on your Mac, sits waiting in your Applications folder. Double-click Automator’s icon to open it for the first time (Figure 8-2).

Automator’s icon is a computer-generated robot image named Otto. (Get it? Otto Matic? Stop, you’re killing us!) The icon is supposed to evoke an image of Automator as a servile program, executing your every desire without question. Any similarity to the malevolent androids of I, Robot is purely coincidental.

Figure 8-2. Automator’s icon is a computer-generated robot image named Otto. (Get it? Otto Matic? Stop, you’re killing us!) The icon is supposed to evoke an image of Automator as a servile program, executing your every desire without question. Any similarity to the malevolent androids of I, Robot is purely coincidental.

In many ways, Automator’s interface resembles that of iTunes; the brushed-metal look, the Play button, and even the Library list are all here. The process of working in Automator always flows from left to right. Click the name of the program you want to control (Library list), find what you want it to do (Action list), and drag it into the Workflow pane to build the list of steps you want your software robot to take.

Figure 8-3. In many ways, Automator’s interface resembles that of iTunes; the brushed-metal look, the Play button, and even the Library list are all here. The process of working in Automator always flows from left to right. Click the name of the program you want to control (Library list), find what you want it to do (Action list), and drag it into the Workflow pane to build the list of steps you want your software robot to take.

Navigating the Screen

As shown in Figure 8-3, Automator has what looks like a confusing design. Nevertheless, once you learn what the various sections are for, the layout makes a lot of sense. Here’s what the various parts are for.

Search box

Just like the Search box in iTunes, Mail, and the Finder, Automator’s Search Field works in real time—it displays matching actions ...

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