Automate Repetitive Tasks with Action(s)

How many of the Mac users out there need to use a Windows machine for work?

One of the applications I really like on my Mac, is Automator. Action(s) is a similar Java based application offering this same functionality on bot Mac and Windows machines. If you are unfamiliar with the possibilities of an automation app, think of it this way; any tedious task like resizing pictures or changing file names can be automated with Action(s).

If you look through some of the preloaded scripts, you will get an idea of how powerful Action(s) can be.

Let’s take a better look at how you might be able to use Action(s) to, well, control some repetitive actions.

Action(s) Basics

After you download the Java installer and open the application by clicking on the icon, you will see a window with a bunch of actions on the left side.

actions-main-window

These actions are little previously made scripts. To use them, all you need to do is drag them into the larger window on the right.

actions-scripts

The key to making a working Action, is stepping through the process in a logical order. If for some reason Action(s) thinks you may have missed a step, it will ask you.

actions-oops-warning

There are 2 ways to save your workflow.

  1. If you simply click Save or Save As, it is treated more as a draft. The Action(s) application starts up and you will need to click Run to start the workflow.
  2. Save it as an executable workflow. This will run like a mini application when you click on the icon. Once you have your workflow perfected, this is the recommended way to save your creation.

actions-status-report

To save your Action as an executable workflow, click on File, then on Create an executable workflow. A window will pop up asking where you would like to save your Action and what you would like to call it.

Please do no expect Action(s) to know exactly what you are trying to do. Test your Action first. Do not use your only copies of a special occasion assuming your workflow will operate as expected.

Sample Action(s) Workflow

Here are a few ways you can use Action(s) for everyday tasks. I am sure you can think of lots more ways to use the preloaded scripts.

Compose an email using a template

Click on Email in the left sidebar. There is one option Compose Email. Here you can add an address, Subject and even the body of the email.

actions-weekly-status-script

The example I used was for a weekly status update. You could do just about any kind of email here.

Batch rename photos or files

This Action will save you A LOT of time and typing. The order you add the scripts will determine the layout. I went with a main title, then the way the picture was labeled then date. If you have a number of different albums you would like to rename, you may not want to save this as an executable workflow; it will be easier to edit than rebuild for each album.

actions-rename-file

Add a filter to an image

Adding a filter to a group of images can take forever. With a workflow like this, you can point Action(s) in the right direction and let it do its thing. I chose to copy the file, just incase the script didnt work as planned on all of the photos. I could go back to the copy if need be.

actions-add-filter

If you have repetitive required tasks, automation will help you keep your sanity. Even if it takes you 30 minutes to craft an amazing workflow, the end result will save you immense amounts of time in the long run.

What automation scripts do you use?

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