View Full Version : Automator. It's not intuitive.

23rd October 2009, 08:08 AM
Before I start let me make something clear. I'm not a novice user nor do have any disdain for Apple, if anything this comment to discuss improving what I believe to be an app that just doesn't fit well in my Mac.

Automator in my opinion doesn't work as well as I would like it to. My thought is that it should be simple, quick and easy to accomplish a direct automated command with little or no knowledge of the program. Unless you know Applescript or Automator like the back of your hand you are going to find this app pretty useless.

Here is what I mean.

I go to make an app. This app will batch convert all my pages documents to word documents. To do this the slow way would be to open each document individually;


then select word, click next and finally and finally export (do desktop).

For someone who might have 100+ pages documents this is where automator should come in to the rescue.

If I open automator and pretend that I'm a novice user I'm going to find the list available on the left side. Rather than go through through this method I was under the impression that automator would record my actions and automate them.

So here goes.

Pressed record on Automator (after having to configure universal access) open the file in Pages and export it as a word document. Stop recording. Move back over to Automator and I have a list of my actions (finder actions have blank descriptions). To test this app I hit play. now I get an input warning telling my this won't work within Automator unless I add something more. Rather than do that I decide it's time to save. I save it as an Application with the name 'convert' to my desktop.

I now drag a different file on to my application 'convert' to convert to word document. It runs through the original file actions. Understandable but not what I wanted to achieve and additionally I get an error and nothing works.

It's things like this that stop the novice user utilising the app. Maybe the app needs a 'wizard' (blech) kind of system to improve automated and batch tasks. Do you agree that Automator could be improved?

I'd really like your thoughts on this and this is more about the recording side of Automator, when you can't find what you want within the Actions list.

23rd October 2009, 11:04 AM
The recording side of it is useless (and has always been this way in my opinionů)

I'm not sure what it is like now as I never use the recording feature anymore, but at one point I tried to record an action and it wouldn't work because the "OK" button was at a different position on the screen - it was recording actual mouse movements and clicks rather than the action itself.

EDIT: Having said that, I love Automator and use it quite regularly :)