My MUO Mac Automation Guide Published

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I’m happy to report that one of my favorite topics to write about has finally been published a book length guide titled the Awesome Guide to Mac Automation.

This guide is for Mac users who want to get more done on their Mac with less work. It includes step-by-instructions for using Apple’s smart automation technology, including smart folders, smart albums, smart playlists, and it’s free automation application, Automator.

Among other things you’ll learn how to:

  • Use smart folders to manage your files and folders
  • Using iTunes’ smart playlists to organize your music
  • Find the photo your looking for with iPhoto
  • Sort your email without any effort, using Mail.app’s smart filters and folders
  • Using Automator to script without any programming knowledge

The guide is free, and I’m in the process of writing a professional version of the guide that will introduce advanced automation programs, including Quickeys 4.0, Hazel, and AppleScript.

The guide can be downloaded for free from MakeUseOf.com.

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How to Quickly Email Yourself Using Snow Leopard’s Automator Services Menu

I use an iPhone app called Note to Self on my iPhone. It’s useful for quickly emailing a note to yourself (or any designated recipient) without having to tap for a new email window, type an address and subject line and then hit the send button. With this app, you simply tap it open, write your note, and click send.

The app is similar to a Automator workflow I use on my desktop. Specifically, this workflow will take any text currently copied to the clipboard and email it directly to yourself or any specified email address you include in the address field.

The workflow is saved as a Service menu item, which makes it accessible when you’re working in an application which involves text. This service workflow won’t, for example, show up if you have an image document opened up in Preview. It works best when you have text selected and copied. You can access the workflow by selecting the Services menu of an application, or you can create a keyboard shortcut to execute the workflow. You can also assign a shortcut key to activate it.

Here’s how you set it up. The screencast version of this article is posted here: http://screenr.com/aL8

1. Open Automator and select Services and then Choose from the drop-down window.

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2. Leave the top two buttons of the Services action as is.

3. Select Text under the Actions panel and then drag the Get Specified Text into the main workflow window under the services action.

4.Click on Utilities in the Actions panel and select Get Contents from the Clipboard and drag it under the previous action in the workflow window.

5. Back to the Actions panel, click on Mail and select the New Mail Message action and drag it in the workflow. Fill in the text field for the email address or addresss where you want the mail sent by default. You can leave the Message window blank because it will be filled with the contents of what you copy to the clipboard. Or you can add text to the message that you want included each time you run the action. Also choose an account for outgoing mail.

6. Go back to the list of Mail actions and select and drag Send Outgoing Mail Message into the workflow window.

7. Select and copy some text, then click on Run in the Automator toolbar to test your workflow. It should automatically send an email to you consisting of the content you copied to the clipboard. You can leave off the last workflow action, Send Outgoing Mail Message if you prefer to see the new mail message before it’s sent.

8. Finally, click on Save As and title your workflow, e.g. “Note to me.”

If you open System Preferences>Keyboard>Keyboard Shortcuts>Services, you should find your saved workflow listed and checked. Double-click on the workflow and add a keyboard shortcut if you like.

Now when you select and copy text in say Safari, Mail, or TextEdit and then click and run your saved workflow in the Services menu of the application (or use your keyboard shortcut) to have the copied text sent directly to you, you are saving yourself the need to create a new email and send it.

Automator Demo: Alphabetize Selected Text

This little demo shows how selected text can be alphabetically ordered by using an easy to build Automator workflow. The tutorial can be found on http://www.macautomaton.com. (Note: after I did this screen capture, I saw that workflow has some limitations, for it only recognizes capital letters of each item on the list. But it’s still comes in handy.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Automator Demo“, posted with vodpod