Take a short tour of Automator to better understand how this powerful tool can work for you. Start by reading the section below and then use the navigation links to the right to access the other sections. After completing this overview, click the Examples link in the navigation bar above for hands-on, step-by-step tutorials.

How it works.

In Automator, you create workflows to automate whatever task you need done. Each step in a workflow is composed of one or more actions, each of which corresponds to a step of the task to be automated.

Actions are individual "nuggets" of functionality that usually perform one procedure, like creating a new email, finding a certain group of people in your Address Book, or re-naming some files. You add actions in sequence to your workflow until you've outlined the steps needed to accomplish the task you want done.

For example, if you want to combine the content of all the messages of a certain mail thread into a single new message, you would create an Automator workflow composed of a sequence of three actions that will:

  1. identify the messages belonging to a specific mail thread,
  2. append the contents of each of those messages into a single block of text, and
  3. create a new mail message whose content would be an introductory paragraph and the text summary generated by the previous action.

The resulting workflow would look like this in the Automator window:

As you add actions to the workflow, you set any optional parameters in each Action View. Once all the necessary actions have been added and their parameters are set, click the Run button at the top right of the Automator window to execute the workflow.