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Troubleshooting Automator: Action Results

By  Dec 10, 2008

Topics: Apple, Operating Systems

One concept that’s often somewhat confusing to grasp when getting started with Automator is how information flows through a workflow.

One concept that’s often somewhat confusing to grasp when getting started with Automator is how information flows through a workflow.  Basically, many actions accept some type of input, and then produce a result, to be passed to the next action in the workflow for further processing.

Actions are picky about the type of information that they accept.  For example, an action that processes files and folders can’t receive Address Book people as input, or it will produce an error.  In some cases, the result may be that the workflow simply does nothing, rather than producing an actual error.  In any case, to ensure a steady flow, you’ll need to make sure that the actions within your workflow match up, and are passing the correct information, as intended, from one action to the next.  Many workflow errors occur as a result of mismatched actions, or actions that aren’t receiving proper input.

You can determine the type of input an action accepts, and the type of result it produces, in the action’s description area in Automator.


Sometimes, troubleshooting mismatched actions is as easy as consulting Automator’s log area.


If you’re unable to diagnose the problem using Automator’s log, then try checking the results of each action within your workflow.  To do this, click the Results button at the bottom of each action.  Then, examine the results of the action, and make sure they’re what you’re expecting.  If they’re not, try adjusting the action’s settings, and verifying that the action received the correct type of input, to resolve the problem.


Check back tomorrow for another Automator troubleshooting tip!

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