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What Is Automator?

Automator is an application that was first released in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, and then significantly enhanced in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Like AppleScript, Automator was designed to allow users to automate simple, time-consuming, repetitive tasks within certain applications or within the operating system.

With Automator, you create workflows, which are composed of actions (see Figure 2). Each action is responsible for performing a specific task, and Automator includes hundreds of built-in actions for common tasks within Mac OS X and applications such as Mail, Safari, Address Book, and iCal. More actions are available from third parties, allowing you to extend Automator's capabilities to interact with even more applications and processes. All Automator actions have interfaces, and many have modifiable settings, allowing you to control how the action will behave when the workflow runs.

Figure 2

Figure 2 This Automator workflow contains actions that ask for files and compress those files into an archive.

After you create a workflow, you can run it within Automator, save and run it as an application, or even run it as a plug-in from within another application or process.

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