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Macs All-in-One for Dummies®, 2nd Edition by Joe Hutsko

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Chapter II.4. Automating Your Mac

In This Chapter

  • Getting to know Automator

  • Understanding actions

  • Exploring sample Automator workflows

  • Creating Automator programs

Computers are supposed to make your life easier, but sometimes they complicate life unnecessarily. Many times, you might need to perform a repetitive task, such as renaming a batch of digital photographs every time you copy them from your digital camera. Although such a task is trivial, it's also tedious and time-consuming to rename each photograph's file.

Fortunately, your Mac can carry some of these burdens for you through a feature called Automator. With Automator, you can program your Mac to perform specific tasks that you don't want to do yourself.

Getting Automator to Take Action for You

Automator lets you choose from a library of predefined tasks, called actions, which tell specific programs on your Mac what to do. By stringing these actions together, you can create simple workflows that act like miniprograms that can, for example, retrieve a Web page and read the text aloud, or rename groups of files automatically.

Automator organizes its library of actions into these categories:

  • Calendar: Adds, deletes, or retrieves items from iCal.

  • Contacts: Finds and retrieves names from the Address Book.

  • Files & Folder: Manipulates items within the Finder.

  • Fonts: Adds, retrieves, and deletes fonts from the Font Book.

  • Internet: Retrieves Web pages from the Internet using Safari.

  • Mail: Finds and retrieves messages from Mail.

  • Movies: Plays, converts, ...

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