Automator Action Bundles

Action Bundles provide a convenient means of installing and monitoring Automator actions and do not require any installation by the user. If an action bundle in stored on the startup disk, the actions it contains will automatically be visible and useable from withing Automator.

Here's how they work. Automator actions are usually installed in one of two possible locations:

  • The local library folder: /Library/Automator/
  • The user library folder: ~/Library/Automator/

However, applications can contain actions and definition files that are automatically recognized and displayed by Automator. Actions and definition files can be stored in the Contents > Library > Automator folder within an application bundle. When the hosting application is copied to the startup disk, the application bundle will be scanned by Launch Services and the stored actions will be added to Automator’s list of actions.

The Action Bundle template provided here is actually an AppleScript application saved in bundle format. This applet can be adapted to deliver your actions and to provide the user with a means to access support and help information about the action collection.

When the Action Bundle is double-clicked, the following dialog is displayed:

The user can then click the Update Check button to visit your website to see if a newer version of the collection is available. Should the user click the Help button, the default description file inside the bundle is opened for the user to read.

To customize the Action Bundle, follow these steps:

  • Download the Action Bundle Template
  • Rename the Action Bundle to an appropriate name, such as: <Name of target application> Action Pack.
  • Open the Action Bundle by clicking on it with the Control key down, and choose Show Package Contents from the forthcoming contextual menu.
  • Edit the Info.plist file in the Contents folder to contain the correct version, bundle name, and copyright information.
  • Edit the Preferences.plist file in the Resources folder to contain the correct name, version, action count, and support URL for your Action Pack.
  • Edit the Action Pack Help.rtfd file in the Resources folder to contain your help content.
  • Place your actions and definiton files inside the Action Bundle in the Contents > Library > Automator folder.
  • You can optionally replace the applet.icns file in the Resources folder to the icon of the target application, but be sure to leave it named applet.icns.
  • Deliver the Action Bundle as a zip archive.
  • The applet automatically updates itself with Launch Services whenever it is run.