Bournemouth — Jan 21st 2020

14 members braved the dark January evening for a presentation by Euan Williams on Apple’s Automator app.

Automator is a facility included in macOS for generating scripts without the need for programming. Euan started with a history lesson, tracing the origins of this idea back to Bill Atkinson’s HyperCard app which was run on the very first Macs. Variants on this classic program such as SuperCard are still available and there is a related app called NovoCard for the iPad.

Automator consists of a library of Actions which can be dragged into a work area to create a Workflow. As well as the Apple-supplied actions, other apps may add Actions to the library - several examples from the image editing app Pixelmator were explored during the evening.

As well as running your Workflow within the open Automator app, you can save it in other forms such as a stand-alone Application, a Folder Action, Calendar Alarm etc.

Euan then proceeded to produce three demonstration workflows;
1 Rename and sequence number a folder of files.
2 Process multiple images (applying a Quartz filter).
3 Captioning a photo

The last of these was done using the Record function whereby you perform the actions you wish to automate and Automator constructs a Workflow from them.

The Help files in Automator were recommended. There’s also a mailing list for Automator users.

After a refreshment break, a Q&A session was held. Unusually, this consisted entirely of discussions arising from Euan’s talk, focussing on examples of how members had used the facility.

Keyboard Maestro was mentioned as an alternative app for recording action steps.


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