5 Cool Things You Can Do With Automator App on macOS.
The Automator app is one hidden gem in macOS that not too many Mac users know about. This tool allows you to create custom shortcuts (quick actions, workflows, and apps) that help automate repetitive and tedious tasks.
We’ll take a quick look at some of the features of the Automator app and show you how to automate simple everyday tasks.
1. Capture Screenshots
macOS has plenty of keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots and recording. However, creating a separate screenshot app with the Automator app is another fun way to take a screenshot of your Mac.
Go to Finder > Applications and select Automator.
Double-click Application when asked to select a document type. You can also choose Applications and choose Select.
On the Actions tab, select Library, scroll to the bottom of the Actions list, and double-click Take Screenshot.
Better yet, enter a screenshot in the search field and double-click Take Screenshot.
You can also drag the Take Screenshot action to an empty section of the Automator window.
In the “Take Screenshot” window, select “Full Screen” if you want to take a screenshot of the entire screen, or “Interactive” to take a screenshot of a specific part.
Check the Timed box if you want the screenshot to be taken a few seconds after the automation starts. Specify the length of the delay in the Second Delay dialog box.
Uncheck “Primary Monitor Only” if you have another monitor connected to your Mac and want to capture all connected displays. If you leave this setting enabled, your primary/primary monitor will only be captured when the Automator workflow starts.
Then choose where you want to save the screenshot. By default, Automator saves screenshots to the clipboard. To save it elsewhere on your Mac, expand the Save To drop-down list and select a storage location.
Click “Run” in the top right corner to try out the automation.
After that press Command + S to save the automation. Or select “File” from the menu bar and select “Save”.
Make sure you save the workflow with a descriptive name that lets you remember its function, especially if you have multiple Automator workflows.
Navigate to the folder where you saved the Automator workflow and double-click the application to start the screenshot workflow.
This will immediately capture your entire screen and save it to the specified location. If you select interactive screenshot, you will be prompted to select the window/application or part of the screen you want to take.
We recommend pinning the Automator app to the Dock for quick access. You can now take screenshots with the click of a button or trackpad.
2. Quit All Applications
You can also create an Automator app shortcut that closes all apps (or selected apps) with the click of a button. This is much better and faster than manually closing multiple applications when you need to shut down your Mac or free up memory.
Open the Automator app and select Quick Action as the document type.
On the Actions tab, expand the Library folder, select Utilities, and double-click Quit All Applications in the subcategory.
Move the Quit All Applications window to customize your workflow. Make sure the “Ask to save changes” box is unchecked so you don’t lose any unsaved data.
This will prompt Automator to display a confirmation popup asking you to save all changes when performing the quick action.
If there is an app that you want to keep open when performing a quick action, click the Add button to add the app to the Do Not Quit exception.
You can click the Add Current Applications button to add all currently active applications to the exclusion list.
Press Command + S to save the quick action. Or choose “File” from the menu bar and choose “Save”.
Give the quick action a descriptive name, select a storage location/folder, select “Application” as the “File Format” and click “Save”.
Your Mac will automatically close all active applications when you open the shortcut. For apps with unsaved work or data, you’ll be notified that files are being saved before you close the app.
3. Set and Apply a Fixed Computer Volume
(Almost) everyone has an “ideal volume level” where the output (or input) sound is neither too low nor too high. Depending on the time of day, I have 50-60%. If you share your Mac with other people and they always get confused about your sound settings, you can reset the output and input volume to your preference with the click of a button.
This is a better alternative than having to go into System Preferences every time you need to change your volume settings.
Open Automator and select Application as the document type.
On the Actions tab, select Utilities in the Library folder and select Set Computer Volume.
The tools will capture and display your current volume settings in the lower window. Adjust the sliders as you wish and press Command + S to save your changes.
Launch the application you created whenever you need to reset your Mac’s volume settings to the level you want.
4. Set Music Volume
You can also create an Automator app that sets the volume specifically for the Music app. So, if you have a preferred volume for listening to music in the morning, here’s how to create a shortcut that changes the music playback volume in the Music app.
Launch Automator, select Applications as the document type, go to the Actions tab, type music volume in the search bar, and select Set Music Volume.
Press Command + S to save the Automator application shortcut. Make sure you give the app a descriptive name and save it in a location that you can easily access or remember. Click Save to continue.
That’s all; macOS will adjust the volume of the Music app whenever you launch the Set Music Volume app. When you open the app for the first time, you will be prompted to grant the Automator shortcut access to “Music”. Click OK to continue.
5. Combine PDF Files
macOS has several built-in tools for merging PDF documents into one file. However, Automator is quite fast and provides more options and styles for merging PDF documents.
Open Automator and select Quick Actions as the document type.
Enter pdf in the search bar and select Merge PDF Pages.
Choose how to merge PDF pages. When adding pages, all pages of the secondary PDF document will be added to the end of the main PDF document without reordering the pages. Let’s say document 1 has 5 pages and document 2 has 7. The resulting PDF will have 12 pages – the first 5 pages from document 1 and pages 6 to 12 from document 2.
Shuffling pages, on the other hand, will create a new file with pages from each document in alternating order. I.e; page 1 from document 1, page 2 from document 2, page 3 from document 1, page 4 from document 2, etc. You get the point.
Then expand the Library folder in the sidebar, select Files and Folders, and double-click Move Finder Items.
In the “To” drop-down section, select where you want to save the resulting PDF file.
Press Command + S, enter a descriptive name in the dialog box, and select Save.
To use a Quick Action to merge or merge multiple PDF files, Control-click and select the files, select Quick Actions, and select the Automator action you created.
Automator will merge the files based on the merge method you chose (in step 3) and save the resulting PDF document to the location you specified.
Modify an Automator App or Quick Action
You can always edit the workflow/instructions assigned to a quick action or app created with Automator.
Edit Quick Actions and Automator Apps
Open Automator and select “Open Existing Document”.
Navigate to the folder where the item is located and select the quick action or app you want to change. Click Open to continue.
Make changes to a quick action or app and press Command + S to save your changes.
If you can’t find the Quick Action location, go to System Preferences > Extensions and check the Finder or Touch Bar categories in the sidebar. Control-click the quick action and choose Reveal in Finder.
Double-click the action you want to change and change the settings in Automator.
Make Tasks Easier
The Automator app has hundreds of customization options, all of which we can’t describe in this post. You can use Automator to bulk rename files, save images from web pages to Safari, and more. Explore the Automator app, explore the options and types of automation, and find everyday tasks you can automate.
By the way, in this tutorial, we created and tested automation settings on a MacBook Pro running macOS Monterey. If you don’t find any of the quick actions or apps mentioned above in the Automator app, please update your Mac and check again.
5 Cool Things You Can Do With Automator App on macOS
5 Cool Things You Can Do With Automator App on macOS