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Using Automator: Recording, Five Automator Tips in Five Days

Can't get Automator to do what you need? Sure, you could try looking for third-party actions to help.

Or you could try recording some manual tasks and playing them back as part of your workflow.

1. Click the Record button in Automator's toolbar to begin recording.

Your workflow will be hidden and a small recording window will be displayed.

2. Perform the desired manual tasks. For example, bring an application to the front and select menus, click buttons, and type keystrokes.

3. When you're finished, click the stop button in the recording window to stop recording.

4. Automator will insert a Watch Me Do action, containing the recorded steps, into your workflow.  You can now run the workflow to perform the recorded steps again.

While not as efficient as using actions that talk directly to an application, recording can certainly come in handy in a pinch. When recording manual tasks, take it slow and do things carefully, so that Automator picks up the things you do.  Sometimes, it may take a few tries to get it just right.

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.

And be sure to check back here each day this week for more Automator tips.