Chapter 7. Automator, AppleScript & Services

Apple’s specialty has always been taking complex, expensive technologies and somehow making them simple, attractive, and magical. It’s done it with video editing, digital photos, DVD authoring, WiFi, Web design, music production, podcasting—you name it.

Popularizing one particular task, however, has continued to elude Apple: programming.

Through the years, Apple has introduced various new technologies for helping novices automate their Macs:

  • AppleScript (born in 1993) was the first Apple tool for automating your Mac. You type out English-like commands in a text file called a script, one command per line, and then click Run to have your Mac carry out the result (Figure 7-1, bottom).

    AppleScript is a power user’s dream come true, but it’s still a programming language. If you want to automate even a simple custom job like converting music files to MP3s, you have to get your hands dirty hunting for the AppleScript command that does exactly what you want—and that can be a real pain.

  • Automator (born in Mac OS 10.4, Tiger) is a newer program that lets you create your own programs by assembling a series of visual building blocks called actions. Drag actions into the right order, click a big Run button, and your Mac faithfully runs through the list of steps you’ve given it (Figure 7-1, top).

    You have a list of preprogrammed actions at your fingertips, so you never have to do any coding or learn any programming language. Creating the little software ...

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