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Getting to know Microsoft Office 2008's Automator support

Mac users are probably aware that Microsoft released a new version of Office back in January. The new Office 2008 includes loads of new features and options, including more than 90 Automator actions (which I actually developed under contract) for Entourage, Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. Using these actions, you can now integrate your Office applications together—as well as other applications such as iCal, iTunes, iPhoto, and Safari—to create simple automated workflows. Throughout this week, I will be discussing the Office 2008 Automator actions and giving you some examples of things that can be done with them.

NOTE: The Office 2008 Automator actions are included with Office 2008 for Mac and Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition. They are not included with Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition. 

So, where exactly are these actions? When you install Office 2008, the Automator actions should be installed automatically into the /Library/Automator/ folder on your machine. If you’ve installed Automator actions for other applications in the past, they may reside here, as well. You shouldn’t actually need to go into this folder for anything, however. To use the actions, you’ll just launch Automator, which can be found in your Applications folder (for Mac OS X 10.4 and higher users). Within Automator, you’ll find the Office actions, along with actions for various other applications, organized into categories. The next step is to find the actions for the tasks you want to automate, and drag them together to form a workflow.


Need some workflow ideas? No problem. Microsoft provides a few-dozen example workflows to get you started. These can be found in the script menu folders for the Office applications, which are located in the ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/ folder within your user directory. These workflows can be opened within Automator, studied, modified, and so on. You can also run them from directly within the Office applications via built-in script menus, which appear in the menu bar.


Check back each day this week for a new Office 2008 Automator workflow. We’ll begin tomorrow with Entourage. If you’d like to learn more about how to use Automator, be sure to check out my Automator for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard: Visual QuickStart Guide.