Recently I asked what people want to see on this site. A common request was seeing an Automator guide. I really don’t have much knowledge of Automator, but I have compiled a small list of places to visit if you are interested in learning more about the program.
In The App
Probably the quickest way to learn how to use the application is within the application itself. The first place I recommend is using the help. If you go to Help > Automator Help, it gives a brief overview on how the application works.
The second best best to learn is to actually mess around with the program. Its all well and good reading tutorials but it is never fun as actually doing something yourself. Look through the program and start playing. If things go wrong it really doesn’t matter. Add work flow units to the app and see what they do.
Probably one of the best ways to learn is using some tutorials online. There is a whole range to check out. Usually the best way to find a solution to a problem is to Google for it, but if you want an introduction to how to use the application I recommend the following places.
For an in depth introduction I recommend Apple’s own website. For example there is the Working With Automator Guide, A 101 Guide and finally a more advance Programming With Automator. There is lots of information to get you going. The last one really isn’t that useful unless you are looking for a specific bit of information.
Two websites I do recommend for both tips and tricks as well as workflows is AutoMator World. They have lots of workflows which you can download and see how they work. If you are stuck on something some one else may have already produced what you are looking for. The second is MacScripted, they are similar to Automator world with the added bonus of them offering Actions. Actions are special pieces of code which you can add to an existing workflow.
The final link I would like to draw your attention to is the Automator section on MacTricksAndTips. Although it doesn’t have many tutorials at the moment. Over time it will slowly fill up as I add more content and ideas.
In A Book
If you still read books there are a couple that do seem to be mentioned frequently. The first one is Mac OS X Technology Guide to Automator. Its written by Ben Waldie and from what I have read it seems like a really well thought out book. From the contents page it is packed out if tips and tricks. Another really popular one which I see all the time in book stores in the UK is Automator for Mac: Visual QuickStart Guide. Another good find. For more information I would check out Amazon since they are the cheapest in terms of books and there is hundreds to chose from.
The item that I would like to point out is not a book but a series of Actions for Automator (it fitted nicely into this section). By Automated Workflows they offer a huge pack of actions which you can use to build and modify your own workflows. Although it probably isn’t for people who are new to the application, if you do get stuck or want to pimp out your workflows even more this pack is one of the ways to go. It is a bit expensive.
The final place I would recommend checking out is in an Apple Store. Although they don’t explicitly do a workshop on Automator I am sure a Genius or other Apple representative would probably help you. If you enter the shop when it isn’t busy, some one would probably give you the time of day.
Hopefully this brief guide has shown people who are new to Mac some pointers on places to go to find help on using Automator. The best way I find is to just play. You usually learn the best and find some good tips and tricks on your own. As well as this have a target or application you want to make so you have something to aim for.