Ultimate Automator Action Pack, by Automated Workflows
Posted: 4-Jan-2008

3 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Automated Workflows Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: John Boyea Class: UTILITY

Overview
Mac OS X version 10.4 and later include an application called Automator. Automator provides the ability to create workflows for repetitious tasks. If you have not used Automator before, it is worth a try, as many routine to complicated tasks can be automated to make your life easier and help save time.

The Ultimate Automator Workflow Action Pack is a collection of all the Automator Actions that were created for some popular applications such as FileMaker, Adobe Photoshop, QuarkXPress, iPhoto and TextEdit. The Action Pack also contains actions for applications within the Mac operating system such as Finder and System. For this review, I focused on the programs that come with Mac OS X: the Finder, iPhoto, Preview, System and TextEdit.

The Ultimate Action pack retails for $39.99.

Requirements

  • Mac OS X, version 10.4 or higher (AppleScript installed with operating system)

For program specific actions:

  • FileMaker Pro Actions - FileMaker Pro version 7.x - 8.x
  • Adobe IndDesign Actions - Adobe InDesign CS or Adobe InDesign CS2
  • Adobe Photoshop Actions - Adobe Photoshop CS or Adobe Photoshop CS2
  • iPhoto Actions - iPhoto '05 or later
  • QuarkXPress Actions - QuarkXPress version 6.1 - 7.x


Demo versions are available that allow a user to try out the action prior to purchasing.

Review Setup

  • 2GHz MacBook
  • Mac OS X 10.4.8
  • 2GB RAM
  • 80 GB hard disk


Setup
Installation is as simple as double clicking the Install Actions icon, the actions are placed into the /Library/Automator/folder within your user directory. To uninstall a action you just need to remove the particular action from this folder.


Installation


Actions are found in Automator by selecting the specific action from the associated library. The "New Subfolder" action is listed in the Finder Library.


Automator Actions



Finder Action Pack

  1. Empty trash
  2. New Subfolder
  3. Quit Application
  4. Wait for finder items

These actions are useful if you are managing files and want to perform repetitive steps such as opening a program, performing some task and then closing the program, or emptying the trash. In my evaluations, I was able to use all of these actions independently. With more experience with Automator, I can also see these being used in conjunction and useful for things such as opening up iPhoto, resizing a set of photos, saving in a new subfolder and then deleting the large originals by emptying the trash.

Automator Action Pack

  1. Choose list items

This action can be used to create a text for a specific prompt for the user to select. In the following example I was able to have a prompt display a prompt for a color selection. This would be used for customizing your pop up text displays.


List Action


iPhoto Action Pack

  1. Find iPhoto Item Paths

This action can show the path for your iPhoto images. In a demo I created I had the Automator program tell me the path of a specific iPhoto tag I was looking for. This was useful as I sometimes want to locate the specific location for my photos in iPhoto.


iPhoto Action


Preview Action Pack

  1. Filter ICC Profile Images

This action can be used to filter images that match a certain profile, such as all photos that have the profile "Black & White" or "Web Safe Colors". For example, a user could use this action to ensure all the photos being used in a website had web safe colors prior to publishing a web site.

System Action Pack

  1. Get Clipboard Contents
  2. Type Keystroke

This is a simple action that retrieves the contents of the clipboard and passes to the next action, as well as an action to type a keystroke.

TextEdit Action Pack

  1. Add Prefix to Text Paragraphs
  2. Add Suffix to Text Paragraphs
  3. Change Case of Text
  4. Read and Replace in Text
  5. Read Text file
  6. Remove Prefix from Text Paragraphs
  7. Remove Suffix from Text paragraphs
  8. Sort Text Paragraphs
  9. Trim Text
  10. Write Text to file

If a user is working with simple text documents and would like to automate formatting text, this action pack allows Automator to read into the file and do several different functions. This can be useful for modifying several similar documents such as adding a signature line and address to each document.

Other Action Packs
The Ultimate Action Pack comes with many other Automator actions that I did not test for this review. These actions or for 3rd party applications such as Asobe Photoshop and Filemaker Pro. A complete list of these 3rd party actions are as follows:

Adobe InDesign Action Pack

  1. Add Pages to InDesign Documents
  2. Export InDesign Documents to PDF
  3. Open Documents in InDesign
  4. Place Images in InDesign Document
  5. Place Text in InDesign Document
  6. Save InDesign Documents
  7. Update Modified Links in InDesign Documents

Adobe Photoshop Action Pack

  1. Add IPTC Captions to Photoshop Documents
  2. Apply Unsharp Mask to Photoshop Documents
  3. Apply Watermark to Photoshop Documents
  4. Assign Color Profile to Photoshop Documents
  5. Close Photoshop Documents
  6. Extract IPTC Captions from Photoshop Documents
  7. Flip Photoshop Documents
  8. New Photoshop Document
  9. Open Images in Photoshop
  10. Resize Photoshop Documents
  11. Rotate Photoshop Documents
  12. Save Photoshop Documents
  13. Trigger Photoshop Action
  14. Trim Photoshop Documents

FileMaker Pro Action Pack

  1. Extract Field Data From Found Set

QuarkXPress Action Pack

  1. Add Pages to Quark Documents
  2. Apply Quark Box Names
  3. Open Documents in Quark
  4. Place Images in Quark Document
  5. Place Text in Quark Document
  6. Retrieve Quark Box Names
  7. Save Quark Documents
  8. Save Quark Pages to EPS

PDF User Manual is available online.

The user interface is the actual Automator application. Once the actions are added to the library, a user can add the different actions as needed while creating a Automator workflow. Automator actions are useful as these are used to communicate with specific programs such as iPhoto or the Finder.

Summary
The Automated Workflow Ultimate Action Pack has Automator actions that I found useful, but required some experimenting to use. The documentation explains what each action is, but does not go into detail on how to implement the action. I found myself experimenting with each one trying different things until I got the action to work. Some actions are really self-explanatory, while others required a more in-depth knowledge of the Automator application. The best way to determine if an action pack may be useful for you is to download the demo and give it a try.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Save time on repetitive tasks
  • Many actions are useful and well-written

Cons

  • Requires some Automator knowledge to get the best use
  • Documentation could describe in more detail how each action works


Overall Rating

3 1/2 out of 5 Mice