Learn how to automate your Mac

Do the same things over and over again on your Mac? Apple's Automator can help.

If you've ever taken stock of the factory-installed apps included on your Mac, you've probably seen Automator but you may have never used it. What exactly is Automator and what can it do?

That's the subject of a new How To at Macworld UK from Kenny Hemphill.

Automator's name is pretty self-explanatory. It helps Mac users create workflows to automate tasks. If there's something you do over and over again that you'd like to just have happen, Automator can really help.

Workflows are often described as 'recipes' and with good reason. Like recipes for food, they take a defined list of inputs (the ingredients), perform a series of actions on them (the preparation and cooking) and then distribute the results.

The best part of Automator is that you don't have to be a programmer or even a scripting expert to make it work: It uses a graphical interface and drag-and-drop actions to create workflows.

Automator works with a variety of applications — not just Apple-made stuff but also Adobe Photoshop and other popular third-party apps.

Kenny has much more on Automator workflows, including a guide to creating really useful ones.