You’ve seen it in your Launchpad. You’ve seen it in your Applications folder. It’s Automator. It sounds cool. It looks cool. It’s got a cool robot icon. But, what can it really do, and why should you care about it?
Well, Automator can do lots of things to improve and streamline your OS X experience. With Automator, you use building blocks called actions like ingredients in a recipe. When your actions are strung together, the result is an Automator workflow that can perform a series of tasks.
Apple provides lots of built-in actions for automating things with Calendar, Mail, Safari, and more. You get even more actions as you install Automator-ready apps, like Aperture, BBEdit, Microsoft Office, and Transmit.
What you can do with Automator depends on the actions installed on your Mac. So, you may run into limitations if you don’t have actions for certain tasks, or if an app doesn’t support Automator. For simple things like working with folders, images, and PDFs, however, it’s a great tool that can save you time and let you do some fun stuff.
In this post, I’ll show you how to use Automator to create a print plugin that shows up in the PDF menu when you print a document. This specific plugin lets you print a photo calendar right out of the Calendar app.