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Extending Automator: Adding Workflows to the Services Menu

With the help of ThisService, a third-party utility from waffle software, and AppleScript, you can now run Automator workflows from the Services menu in Mac OS X.

If you've read my Automator book, have been following my video podcast, or are simply an avid Automator user, then you know that it's possible to save Automator workflows as plug-ins for various applications and processes in Mac OS X. Automator workflows can be saved as Finder plug-ins (to be run from the Finder's contextual menu), iCal alarms (to be run on a schedule), Print workflows (to be run from the PDF button in the Mac OS X print window), and more.

Well, with the help of ThisService, a third-party utility from waffle software, and AppleScript, you can now run Automator workflows from the Services menu in Mac OS X.  To do this:

1. Create an Automator workflow, and save it somewhere as a workflow file.

2. Launch Script Editor, found in the Applications/AppleScript folder on your Mac.

3. Create a new Script Editor document and enter the following script:

on process(input)

         set theCommand to "automator -i"& (quoted form of input) & " " & (quoted form of "/Folder/YourWorkflowName.workflow")

         do shell script theCommand

end process

This script will simply be used to run your Automator workflow.  Please be sure to replace /Folder/YourWorkflowName.workflow with your actual workflow path and name.

4. Save the Script Editor document somewhere as a script file.

5. Download ThisService from the waffle software website, copy it to your hard drive, and launch it.

6. Enter a name for the service, map it to your saved script file, set its type to Acts on input, and set it to include a copy of your script.  You may optionally give it a menu shortcut (key command) too, if you'd like.


7. Click the Create Service button.  Voila, the service is created, and can now be accessed from the Services menu to run your Automator workflow.


For more on Automator, check out my book Automator for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard: Visual QuickStart Guide, as well as my video podcast series Mac Automation Made Simple.