Automatic Automation

OS X Mountain Lion offers a pair of technologies — AppleScript and Automator — that make it easy to automate repetitive actions on your Mac.

AppleScript is “programming for the rest of us.” It can record and play back things that you do (if the application was written to allow the recording — Finder, for example, was), such as opening an application or clicking a button. You can use it to record a script for tasks that you often perform, and then have your Mac perform those tasks for you later. You can write your own AppleScripts, use those that come with your Mac, or download still others from the web.

Automator is “programming without writing code.” With Automator, you string together prefabricated activities (known as actions) to automate repetitive or scheduled tasks. How cool is that?

Automation isn’t for everyone. Some users can’t live without it; others could go their whole lives without ever automating anything. So the following sections are designed to help you figure out how much — or how little — you care about AppleScript and Automator.


Describing AppleScript to a Mac beginner is a bit like three blind men describing an elephant. One man might describe it as the Macintosh’s built-in automation tool. Another might describe it as an interesting but often-overlooked piece of enabling technology. The third might liken it to a cassette recorder, recording and playing back your actions at the keyboard. A fourth (if there were a fourth in the ...

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