Automator is the OS X program that lets you create your own little programs—and your own Services, if you like. Like most programs on your Mac, it sits waiting in your Launchpad (in a folder called Other). Click its icon to open it. (Automator’s robot icon is supposedly named Otto. Get it? Otto Matic? Stop, you’re killing us!)
Like TextEdit, Pages, and other showcase Apple programs, Automator offers Autosave and Versions (Auto Save and Versions). Those are especially useful in a programming app like this; often, you’ll get things working just fine, and then make some change that causes everything to break. No problem; now you can just revert back to the working version.
As you’ll soon discover, building an Automator workflow is a satisfying intellectual exercise and a delicious talent to acquire. But if the point of all the effort is to create a timesaving, step-saving software robot, you’ll need some way to trigger it—to run it, just the way you run an email program or a Web browser.
Fortunately, you can save a workflow as a regular, double-clickable application, if you like, or turn it into a Service, as described above, or embed it in shortcut menus all over your Mac. In fact, when you fire up Automator, the first thing it wants to know is: What is the desired destination for this workflow?
You’re offered seven options in the template screen shown in Figure 7-4:
Figure 7-4. Automator has seven choices for the final form of your workflow. If you’re ...