Chris Hannah

Myself and Mac Automation

As much as I’m a fan of automation, I can’t say I’ve ever done much of it on the Mac. When I was very young, I used Windows computers and wrote quite a few batch scripts, but nothing that complex. When I switched to a Mac, I didn’t really have the need for automation, or at least I wasn’t aware of how it could benefit me. It only really clicked for me on iOS with Workflow Shortcuts.

As I’ve been a programmer for quite a few years, I have made a few tools for myself in the past. But weirdly never any automation. I’ve checked out Keyboard Maestro and Text Expander before, but to be perfectly honest, I didn’t think they were that interesting. The most I’ve done is set up Hazel to move screenshots into a certain folder, and to empty the trash when it gets to a certain size.

But even the minimal experiences of automation I've done on the Mac have been after I was really introduced to the concept of automation over on the iPad. And while I think Shortcuts can be improved in so many ways, I much prefer the simplicity of any Mac automation tool.

I think the problem comes from myself never really being a “power user” of the Mac. I’ve used it as a tool for school work, to develop software, and to play games. I don’t use Automator, I can’t be bothered to write scripts, and in general, I’ve never felt I needed anything automated. It’s also why Text Case for Mac has only just gained support for Services because I don’t use them myself.

Perhaps I should at some point attempt to try out automation on the Mac again, but I’d think it has to be a third-party tool, rather than anything built-in. But what I’d really want is for Shortcuts to come to the Mac. It would obviously need to work slightly differently, but I still think that it would provide a much more user-friendly experience than anything like Automator.

This may be incorrect, but at least my perception of automation on the Mac has always been something that’s only done by really professional users, or people with super complex workflows. But on iOS, automation is something that anyone can do.

This post is part of the warmup week for the March Blogging Challenge, the theme today is Automation.