Automation tools like IFTTT and Siri Shortcuts are popular options for simplifying everyday tasks, but MacOS has long had a tool for that. Automator is not well known to anyone but power users, but when implemented correctly it can take care of the minutiae and help remove boredom from daily activities.
Automator requires no programming skills to set up. Just drag and drop relevant skills into your workflow. Here are some of the best scripts you should check out and install.
1. Clean the downloads folder
The Downloads folder can get cluttered in no time, especially if you frequently download photos or files. The number of zip files and installation packages alone can quickly increase. Thankfully, there is a simple solution: an Automator setup that moves files older than a certain date range to the trash.
Automator may seem a little overwhelming at first, but it’s actually a lot easier than it sounds. Start by opening the program and selecting New document, then choose Folder Actions. From there, you choose Find Finder Items and drag it to the blank screen on the right.
Click the Options tab and choose Ignore the input of this element. If not, it will immediately move all files to the trash. To select Move Finder items to the Trash and drag it under Find Finder Items.
Once you have this action set, it will automatically move all files older than 90 days to the trash.
2. Rename multiple files at the same time
macOS has a tendency to name certain file types in a certain way and it can be difficult to sort them all, especially if you have 98 screenshots all called “xxx-xxx-xxx screenshots”. Thankfully, Automator can also simplify this process.
First, you will create a new document in Automator. To select workflow, and then select Files and folders in the far left window. Lagna Get Selected Finder Items from the middle window to the right window and then do the same for Rename Finder items.
When you do, a popup will appear asking if you want to complete the action and offer the option to make a copy of the files before renaming them. While you can do this, it defeats the purpose of editing files all at once.
Simply type the text you want to search in Find and then the text you want to replace it in Substitute. There are additional options you can use, such as searching for full name, base name and extension. Once done, you can simply open Finder and then run the Automator script.
3. Open your favorite websites when the browser starts
Let’s face it: most of us have a routine when it comes to browsing the web. Maybe it’s a collection of websites you enjoy reading to stay up to date on your favorite topics. Maybe it’s related to work. Either way, you can save yourself some trouble by having Automator open your most visited websites the moment you start your browser. That’s how.
When you open Automator, choose Application. Choose Internet from the left window and select Get specified URLs from the central window. Drag it to the right side. When finished, enter the URLs you want to visit when the browser starts. (Hint: If you have the page open in Safari when you click “Add”, it automatically inserts the URL.)
Then, select View web pages and drag it under Get specified URLs. Save the Automator script. The next time you open Safari, the pages you designated will be displayed.
Other uses of the automaton
Automator is a powerful tool with almost unlimited uses. While the scope can be confusing, a little trial and error will teach you everything you need to know. You can do everything from automatically sending birthday wishes with Outlook to combining text files.
Automator can take the boredom out of repetitive tasks if you set it up correctly. The drag and drop interface makes it easy to organize functions without programming skills, and the “Run” button in the top right corner of the application allows you to test the Automator script before saving it.
If it doesn’t work exactly how you want it, change some settings and try again. And if it still doesn’t work, Apple has an active Automator community that you can ask for help.