If you’re new Mac automation, you might wondering what is the differences between the various automation programs available for the Mac. In this article I share my five most frequently used Mac automation applications that help me stay productive by actually saving me time with performing redundant clicking, mouse movements and tasks I need to perform on a regular basis.
Each of the applications has a unique purpose, and I recommend using all of them. TextExpander is the only subscription-based application in the group; however there are alternative text expansion apps, like TypeIt4Me that don’t require a subscription.
If you’re not currently using these Mac automation applications I recommend downloading the trial version of each of them and experimenting with what they can do. In a section of this article I provide links to some of my articles to help you give you some ideas about specifically what these applications can do.
Definitions and Ratings of Tasks
Perform text expansions: how useful it is for managing and performing text expansions using an abbreviation.
Triggering Shortcuts and Menu Items: how useful it is for managing and triggering keyboard shortcuts and menu items.
Internet searches: how useful it as for performing Internet searches.
Triggering Folder Actions: how it useful it for managing and trigging folder actions, i.e, when something is added to a folder, an action takes place.
Day and Time Trigger: How useful it is for managing and triggering day and time triggers.
Trackpad and Finger Triggers: Can trigger actions using a trackpad or Magic mouse.
5 Very useful • 4 Somewhat useful • Useful • 3 Can do it, but not very useful • X Does not apply
|Performs text expansions||4||5||3||4||X|
|Triggering shortcuts and menu items||5||X||3||4||X|
|Trigger Folder actions||4||X||3||4||5|
|Time and Day Triggers||5||X||X||X||X|
5 Mac Automation Applications
Keyboard Maestro is sort of the grandaddy of Mac automation applications. It’s much more advance than Apple’s Automator, which has not been significantly updated in several year years. Keyboard Maestro contains hundreds of actions that you can trigger using keyboard shortcuts, string triggers, application triggers, and much more. Keyboard Maestro is modestly priced and is regularly updated. Use my affiliate link to purchase it.
TextExpander is a text expansion application that is highly useful if you do a lot of typing on your Mac. Some people are reluctant to use a text expansion program because they think that can’t remember assigned abbreviations for expanding designated text. But there are strategies for remembering abbreviations that I outline in this article. Use my affiliate link for a discount.
When my hand is already on my trackpad, BetterTouchTool saves me from having to move my hand back to the trackpad (notice how many times you do it) in order to press keyboard shortcuts or select a menu item. I use BTT for hundreds of global and application-specific triggers. Once you start using BTT, you’ll never want to use a Mac without it. Here’s an article and video about how to use BTT with Safari.
You can download free trial of BetterTouchTool using my affiliate link. Also check out my BetterTouchTool articles.
Alfred is similar to Apple’s Spotlight program, but it does a lot more. I use it for performing quick Google searches, retrieving and pasting previously copied snippets of text, running quick math calculations, searching my Contacts list, and much more. Here are 10+ ways I use Alfred to improve my productivity. Note: I’m referring to the premium version of Alfred which includes the clipboard manager. Update: Alfred can do text expansion. Inputting data for expansions requires a few more steps than how it’s done in TextExpander, but it’s still very useful.
Hazel is one of the only truly automation programs performs that actions on designated folders, including your desktop without manual triggering. For example, Hazel will move any files on my desktop that have been there more than eight hours. My Hazel library includes dozens of folder rules that help me move and manage files in various places on my Mac. Here’s an overview of how Hazel works.
Are You New Mac Automation
If you are not a subscriber to MacAutomationTips, be sure to sign up so that you won’t miss any of the blog posts and other resources I provide.
Many of the subscribers to MacAutomationTips are already familiar with one or more of these applications, but if you’re new to Mac automation, please let me know which of the above applications you find useful. Which ones do you plan to try out, and how do you think you might use them?