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Issue 12.4 ('Game Center')
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REVIEW

Take Control of Automating Your Mac

Issue: 12.4 (July/August 2014)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,614
Starting Page Number: 12
Article Number: 12402
Related Web Link(s):

http://tid.bl.it/tco-automating-your-mac-tidbits

Full text of article...

Since I'm essentially lazy, I love automation. Any task I do that's at all repetitive, I prefer to figure out a way to let the computer do it for me. Most of the time this involves writing a small Xojo app, but often that's excessive or not appropriate. That's when I turn to other techniques (such as scripts or macro software).

This book isn't meant for programmers. It's a general overview of the various ways you can automate tasks on your Mac. As such it's useful, especially to those who are new to the Mac. The book covers not only built-in automation solutions, but briefly goes over various third-party options, so it's a great way to learn about helpful software you may not have known existed. (Windows Xojo users who are creating Mac software will find this book particularly valuable.)

Though I'm experienced with automation (I actually discovered REALbasic in 1998 in my quest to automate graphic design tasks), there are parts of this book I didn't expect. For instance, there's a short section on using alternative input devices (speciality keyboards, mice, trackballs, joysticks, and other hardware). Other concepts explored in this book I'm familiar with, but just don't use enough, such as Smart Folders in the Finder. There are also good explanations about acclaimed programs I haven't tried (such as LaunchBar) and third-party services that I need to learn about (IFTT).

But, mostly, this book is a terrific overview of all sorts of automation areas you may not have considered. These include Mail rules, clipboard utilities, automatic backup, web browser automation, and scriptable applications (i.e. using VBA with Microsoft Office). Of course, the book also works through more obvious topics such as AppleScript, Automator, shell scripting, and macro utilities such as Keyboard Maestro.

While no section goes into fine detail, there are examples (even shell script code), and screenshots. It's definitely a good way to inspire you to use the tools you already have in hand. For instance, I have Keyboard Maestro, but don't use it nearly enough, and this book has given me lots of ideas of things I can do with it.

End of article.