macOS Automation: Guide & Techniques |

MacOS Automation: Guide & Techniques

Automation refers to the process where certain tasks are performed by a system with minimal to no human intervention. macOS, otherwise known as Macintosh Operating System, provides a collection of built-in tools and applications that can streamline and automate a wide variety of tasks for you. They include Automator, AppleScript, Services, and the iOS-style Shortcuts app. Whether you're a basic user looking for simpler ways to do things or an advanced user seeking to maximize efficiency, understanding how macOS automation works can be highly rewarding.

In our comprehensive guide, we'll explain the various macOS automation tools at your disposal and provide practical advice on how to use them effectively.

What is Automation in macOS?

Automation in macOS is the intelligent processing of tasks by using in-built technologies without significant user interaction. Mac has given its users the ability to automate a variety of frequent tasks, helping to save time, increase precision and reduce monotony.


The Automator is one of the most powerful tools that macOS offers for automating tasks. With its simple drag-and-drop interface, you can build workflows that automate complex tasks, create custom shortcuts, and even develop your own applications.

How to use Automator?

Launch the Automator app, select "New Document", and choose the type of workflow you want to create.

  1. Workflow: It's the basic form of automation, executable within the Automator app.
  2. Application: It allows you to create stand-alone apps that can perform tasks.
  3. Service: It integrates your workflow into MacOS’ context menus. Services are available in Finder, text applications, Safari, and more.

You then proceed to construct your workflow by dragging actions into the workflow area. Each action represents a single task. When joined together, they can perform complex processes.


AppleScript is a scripting language designed by Apple. You can use AppleScript to control applications, automate repetitive tasks, and even build complex workflows.

How to Use AppleScript?

Start by opening the Script Editor app and creating a new script. AppleScript uses a straightforward syntax similar to English, making it easy to learn.

Here's an example to demonstrate:

tell application "Finder" duplicate file "Macintosh HD:Users:user:Desktop:file.txt" end tell

This script instructs Finder to duplicate a file located on the desktop.


In macOS, a Service is a contextual menu item that performs an action on a specified data. These services can access features from different applications. They can be accessed through the services submenu in the application menu.

How to Use Services?

You can start by launching System Preferences, then Keyboard, and finally, Shortcuts. Under Shortcuts, select "Services." Here, you can manage and customize all available services.


Introduced in macOS Monterey, Shortcuts is an automation app which simplifies multi-step actions into a one-click action. The Shortcuts app allows you to create a series of automated actions on your Mac.

How to Use Shortcuts?

Open the Shortcuts app and click the "+" icon to add a new shortcut. Select an action from the side panel and add it to your shortcut.

Learning to utilize macOS automation may require some time and practice, but once mastered, it can greatly improve your productivity and efficiency. It's an under-utilized feature that holds substantial potential and deserves exploration by all macOS users.

Automation is a key feature of macOS that helps streamline repetitive tasks and processes. From drafting emails and managing files to crawling the web and scripting multi-step tasks, automation can significantly reduce your workload and improve your overall efficiency. By understanding and using tools like Automator, AppleScript, Services, and Shortcuts, you can effectively personalize and enhance your machine's functionality to best suit your needs. So, get started with macOS automation today and elevate your Mac usage to the next level.


Q: Can I share my automation workflows with others?

A: Yes, workflow files created by Automator or Shortcuts can be shared just like any other file.

Q: Is programming knowledge required to automate tasks in macOS?

A: Some knowledge is needed for complex tasks, but most automation can be done without deep understanding of programming. AppleScript uses English-like syntax, making it accessible.

Q: Are there any risks associated with automation?

A: There should be little to no risk so long as you understand what the automation process entails. However, use caution when downloading and using workflows from the internet, as they can pose security risks.

Q: Can automation slow down my Mac?

A: If you have numerous intensive automation workflows running simultaneously, it could possibly slow down your Mac. However, under normal circumstances, automation should not affect your computer's performance significantly.