explained… How to use Automator
will appear as a new command in the Print dialog’s PDF menu. This route gives you full control over how your saved PDFs are named and where they are saved. So, for example, you may want to create separate commands that save your business and personal receipts in different folders.
We’ll do this using an Automator workflow, specifically in the app’s Print Plugin template. Of course, you can use this to process many more things than just web receipts – you could adapt the technique shown here to save any other kind of printable document, encrypt your PDF file, email it, and so on.
Technically, working with Automator is programming, just not in the traditional sense of writing code. While Apple has a dedicated method for writing apps for iOS and OS X, called Xcode, Automator is its programming tool for the rest of us. Think of it as a digital game of Jenga, only in reverse. Rather than pulling the Jenga tower to bits, you’ll be stacking it up, with each brick that you add being a specific action that you’re asking your Mac to perform. Like a Jenga tower, though, get one action wrong and the whole workflow will fail to produce your intended result. Think of each action as a macro, just like the step-by-step routines you may have used to accomplish the same task on multiple occasions in Photoshop or Microsoft Word.
Automator workflows are smarter than regular macros, as they’re not restricted to running inside particular apps. Although we’ll build one that processes output from OS X’s printing system, turning it into a PDF and then performing additional tasks on the resultant file, you can also create workflows that act like a standalone app, or that keep an eye on a particular folder and perform actions on any files dropped into it. Workflows can also process images imported from a camera using the Image Capture utility, perform a task when you give a particular instruction to OS X’s dictation system, or run when a calendar event’s alarm goes off.
Apple has already done a lot of the grunt work for you by providing a library of useful actions. Each one calls upon the services of an app, such as Finder, Calendar or Mail, to give you direct access to its core features, such as renaming a file, setting up an event, or sending a new message.
Each action in your workflow takes some input, which could be a web address, a name or, in our case, a PDF of a receipt we’ve received by email or been presented with in a web page, performs some actions on it, and
Actions are grouped by app or by category. Switch between
the two using View > Arrange
Actions By. 3
Workflow Drag actions into this area to build your workflow. Each action automatically feeds its output to the next.
Actions With an action selected in the second column, a description of it is given below. If not, click the second icon at
the bottom. 4
Record Add manual interactions to your workflow, such as clicking menus and pressing keys, by clicking the Record button.