The purpose of computers should be to save you time, and increase your productivity. If you know what computer tasks you can automate or do faster on your Mac, you can make your Mac work more for you than against you.
One of the purposes of Mac Automation Tips is to show Mac users how to use Mac automation tools to save time and clicking, and to reduce the need for performing redundant tasks.
Many Mac users don’t realize which tasks they perform could be completed faster with less clicking using automation tool that requires no coding or under the hood configuration.
If you’re unfamiliar with Mac automation tools, the following is a list of general computer tasks that you’re probably wasting your time performing, and that could be done faster and increase productivity with Mac automation tools. Some items include links to existing articles on this site that explain more how to automate a described task.
If you have questions about how to automate a particular task, leave me a comment at the end of this article.
Tasks Your Probably Wasting Your Time Performing
- Manually opening frequently visited to webpages. This can can be done faster with the application launcher, Alfred, the voice command application, Dragon Dictate custom, or with Keyboard Maestro macros.
- Typing frequently used words, phrases, URLs, tags, email addresses, etc. This can be better done with a text expansion application or feature like TextExpander, Typinator, Alfred, or Keyboard Maestro. Watch following short video to see TextExpander in action.
- Deleting files from your desktop. The folder application, Hazel can keep your desktop clean and managed based on automation rules you set. See our article about use Hazel for managing email PDFs and receipts.
- Dragging files to the trash. You can use the finger gesture application BetterTouchTool (BTT) to click on a file send it directly to the trash.
- Using a hotkey to hide apps. You can use a BTT finger gesture to hide apps more quickly, or use SuperTab to automatically hide apps for you when specified apps have been in the background for a specific amount of time.
- Switching to iTunes to play or pause a song or to skip to the next song. This could be done easier with BTT finger gesture, a or Dragon Dictate voice command, even iTunes is in the background. See my article about automating iTunes.
- Using a keyboard shortcut to add a web page to the Safari Reading List. You can easily do this with a BTT finger gesture.
- Formatting text using keyboard shortcuts. This can be done using Dragon Dictate, PopClip, or Keyboard Maestro string triggers.
- Opening the Applications folder or Launchpad to locate or activate an application. This can be done much faster using a Dragon Dictate voice command, or the file launcher, Alfred. You can even use Keyboard Maestro to launch applications daily or weekly at a specified time.
- Dragging and resizing an application window. This can often be done faster using BetterSnapTool or a similar window management tool.
- Using a keyboard shortcuts to flag important emails or mark them as read. A smart mailbox or a BTT finger gesture can do the job faster.
- Repeatedly opening specific applications or websites at regular times and days of the week. Keyboard Maestro can do this automatically with timed trigger macros.
- Using a hotkey to trigger a screenshot. This can be done with Keyboard Maestro, Dragon Dictate, or a BTT finger gesture.
- Individually opening a set of webpages one at time. This can be done using Keyboard Maestro, or you can put a set of webpages in a folder in Safari and then click to open with one click.
- Searching Google for a specific webpage. This could be done faster using Alfred’s Lucky search feature, which automatically links and downloads the top site for a particular search term. See the video demo below.
- Opening Amazon to do a search. Again, this can be done faster using Alfred or PopClip.
- Using the mouse or Delete key to delete the last word you typed. This can be done faster using a Keyboard Maestro string trigger.
- Setting to-do reminders. This can be done faster using the repeated to-do feature in a task manager application like 2Do.
- Navigating to recently used folders. The Finder application, Default Folder X has many features for navigating the Finder faster using keyboard shortcuts.
- Pointing your cursor to a button to close a Safari tab. This can be done faster with a BTT finger gesture.
The above are just a handful of examples of what Mac automation tools can do to increase your productivity. If these are the kind of tasks that you would like to automate, I suggest downloading the trial versions of Mac automation tools listed on my resource page so that you can get speeding up your Mac workflow.
Let me know if you have questions about any of the above tasks. Also, please share tasks that you automate on your Mac.
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Over a dozen guides for how to use powerful automation applications, including Hazel, PopClip, Siri, Alfred, and more.
Baker, I really look forward to receiving your “Mac Automation Tips” emails each week or so. Keep up the good work.
One question: Is their a way you can put a list of item in alphabetical order in any application. It would be good if that could be done in Keyboard Maestro. It is easy to do it in Word, Excel, BBEdit, etc., but wanted to do it without a copy and paste step.
Any suggestion? Thanks
Hi Ed, thanks for the feedback. Really appreciate it.
In terms of alphabetizing a list of items, there’s a PopClip extension you can use. Are you familiar with PopClip? Here’s an article about PopClip: http://www.macautomationtips.com/let-popclip-perform-mac-actions-for-you/
Keep in touch.