Automation tools like IFTTT and Siri Shortcuts are popular choices for streamlining everyday tasks, but MacOS has long had a tool for this. Automator is not known to anyone but expert users, but when implemented properly, it can take care of the minutiae and help remove tedium from everyday tasks.
Automator requires no programming skills to set up. Dragging and dropping related skills into the workflow is just a matter of quick. Here are some of the best scripts that you should check out and install.
1. Clean your downloads folder
The Downloads folder can get cluttered in no time, especially if you regularly download photos or files. The number of zip files and installation packages alone can add up quickly. Thankfully, there’s an easy solution: set Automator to move files older than a certain date range to the trash.
Automator can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but it’s actually significantly easier than it looks. Start by opening the program and selecting new document, then choose Directory action. From there, choose Find items in Finder and drag it to the blank screen on the right.
Click Option tab and select Ignore the input of this item. If you don’t, it will move any files to the trash immediately. Option Move Finder Items to the Trash and drag it below Find items in the Finder.
Once you’ve set up this action, it will automatically move any files older than 90 days to the trash.
2. Rename multiple files at once
macOS tends to name certain file types a certain way, and it can be difficult to organize them all—especially if you have 98 screenshots, all of which are named “screenshot xxx-xxx- xxx”. Thankfully, Automator can also make this process smooth.
First, you’ll create a new document in Automator. Option Working process, and then select Files and Folders in the left window. Drag Get selected search items from the middle window to the right window and then do the same for Rename items in Finder.
When you do, a pop-up will appear asking if you want to take action and providing the ability to make copies of the files before renaming them. While you can do this, it defeats the purpose of changing all the files at once.
Just enter the text you want to search in Find and then the text you want to replace it in Replace. There are additional options you can use, such as searching for the full name, base name, and extension. Once you’ve done this, you can just open Finder and then run the Automator script.
3. Open your favorite websites on the Start browser
Let’s face it: most of us have habits when browsing the web. Maybe it’s a collection of websites you love to read to keep up to date with your favorite topics. Maybe it’s work related. Either way, you can save yourself some trouble by having Automator open your most frequently visited websites as soon as you start up your browser. Here’s how to do it.
When you open Automator, select Register. Choose Internet from the left window and select Get specified URLs from the middle window. Drag it to the right side. Once you’ve done this, enter the URLs you want to visit when you start your browser. (Tip: if you open the page in Safari when you click “Add,” it will automatically enter the URL.)
Next, choose Show web pages and drag it below Get the specified URLs. Save Automator script. The next time you open Safari, it will display the pages you specified.
Use other automation
Automator is a powerful tool with an almost unlimited number of uses. While its scope can be confusing, a little trial and error will teach you everything you need to know. You can do everything from send birthday wishes automatically with Outlook to combine text files together.
Automator can help you eliminate the most tedious repetitive tasks if you set it up correctly. The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to arrange functions without coding skills, and the “Run” button in the upper-right corner of the app lets you test your Automator script before saving.
If it doesn’t work exactly how you want, adjust a few settings and try again. And if it still doesn’t work, Apple has an active Automator community that you can ask for support.