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Monday, August 18, 2014

Automate Your Workflow with Automator

One of the coolest programs on your Mac (that you may not even know about) is called Automator. What it allows you to do is create workflows telling your computer to do complex things at the click of a button. I've used it a few times for random things like extracting text from PDFs or batch renaming photos but I thought I might be able to use it to open all the websites I need at the beginning of the day.

I have it automatically open our FMS Points system, Skyward, Channel One, and Class Tools with one click. It was VERY easy to do and here's how:

1. Open Automator (it's in your Applications file and has the greatest icon of any App)
2. When it asks you to choose a Workflow, choose Application
3. You'll see a bunch of text on the left (actions) and a big box on the right where you'll drag your actions
4. Find the action on the left that says "Get Specified URLs" and drag it from the left side into the big box on the right to start your Workflow
5. Here is where you'll drag your URLs (web addresses). There is probably a default URL for Apple; just click on it and press 'Remove'
6. Now go to your web browser and go to the web site you want to open automatically. Copy the address (whatever it says in the address bar...http://...)
7. Go back to Automator and click 'Add'. Click on the Address part that appears up above and Paste that address in there
8. Repeat this for however many websites you want it to open
9. When you're done go back to the left side and drag over "Display Webpages"
10. Click File > Save and make sure you're saving it as an Application inside your Applications folder. Give it a name you'll recognize like "Web Pages"
11. Close Automator and go to your Applications folder and find it and drag it to the dock. Now when you click on it it'll open up those web pages all at once. Cool. BTW, it will open in your default browser.

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