5 Cool Things You Can Do With Automator and Apple Script in OSX

Automator and Apple Script provide some very powerful functionality once you get your teeth stuck into them. The problem is, as easy as they are to use (Automator especially), most people don’t realise what is possible. So, I thought I’d help you out. These are my 5 favourite things to do using Automator and Apple Script. Each one is easily doable by even novice users and I’m sure you can all see the benefits.

  1. Protect your Computer – This page provides the tools you need to automatically take a picture when your machine wakes from sleep and sends it to a remote server via ftp. This is a great security measure as the picture is sent to a remote server, that means that if someone steals your Apple machine they can’t simply delete the picture and move on. Of course you may want to keep all your pictures private, which is what I do. So long as you can get to them yourself, all should be good. An interesting hack to this is to send a file to the server that contains the current ip address and logon details. If your machine does get stolen you can then trace it via these details. There are products out there that do similar things and, in fact, work a treat!
  2. Mount an External Drive – This page details how to mount a box.net drive on OSX. You can use this free storage space for backups or pretty much anything else. its very handy if you want to share documents between machines quickly but don’t want to pay out for .mac.
  3. Keep Your Mac Running Smoothly – The Apple Automator page includes an action to perform common maintenance tasks on OSX such as repairing permissions. Why not schedule it to keep your mac in tip top shape?
  4. Keep Things Tidy – This Workflow allows you to rename a group of files. Sounds simple but it demonstrates the power that is built into Automator. This is a “smart” rename and allows for sequential renaming or renaming based on date all with your own text used as a prefix. The example given is very appropriate and shows how you can rename a group of pictures so they all have the name of the subject followed by a sequential number.
  5. Save WebPages as PDF – This is a great little workflow and allows you to store webpages for later offline consumption without the need to install something like Paparazzi. The power lies in the fact that you save the page as a PDF file, which is fairly ubiquitous these days.

If these have piqued your interest, take a look at the Official Automator page at Apple.com, Automator.us, which is run by an Apple engineer who worked on automator (check out some of their media browsers, which are excellent and very usefull), and Automator World. Those are three fantastic resources for all things Automator. As for Applescript, you’ll find the odd post over at Mac OSX Hints as well as snippets in the popular Apple forums around the interwebs.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like 5 OSX Hidden Gems, 5 More OSX Hidden Gems and Five things that make Quicksilver Awesome.