OS X Automator

I have been using the Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) program Vienna to read the various RSS feeds I have subscribed to.

I fired up Vienna on Monday morning after being out of town for the
weekend (SIDE NOTE: I was in New Orleans where the 13-14 Year Old Girls Flag Football team I am associated with was competing in
one of the eight Regional competitions. I am happy to say that they
won their age group and will be going to Nationals, for the third
consecutive year, in Phoenix in early 2015.) and found that some
articles were not loading. Since each of the RSS feed providers sets the length of time their articles are available, I believe that some
had simply expired.

I wanted to resolve this so that anytime I am out of town in the
future, Vienna will pull all of the articles. I would also like to
have mail downloaded daily so that I do not fill up my ISP’s
mailbox. Of course I could leave the applications running all of the time, but that takes up resources.

I found a better way handling my need through the use of Apple’s Automator which was first introduced with OS X Tiger (10.4). Automator is an application that can be used to automate repetitive tasks under OS X. Apple includes a suite of ready-made actions, but others are available from developers and through the App Store. With Automator you can use drag-and-drop to create, then run a Automator script.

I started Automator by going to Finder >> Go >> Applications >> double clicking on Automator. I was then prompted to select the type of the Automator document that I was creating. I chose ‘Application’.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.50.45 AM

I then found and dropped the ‘Launch Application’ action into the right window, then changed the application to launch to be ‘Vienna’. I then dropped the ‘Pause’ action into the right window below the Launch Vienna action, and set it for 90 seconds. I then dropped a ‘Quit Application’ action below the Pause, and set it also for Vienna. Since I also wanted to download my most recent email, I added a ‘Launch Application’, ‘Pause’, and ‘Quit Application’ for Mail, setting the pause for 4 minutes. I saved the resulting application into my ‘Documents’ folder. I tested the script I had created by clicking the ‘Run’ button in the top right corner of the screen.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.58.07 AM

Satisfied that the script did what I wanted I tried to set it up to be run from the Calendar. Unfortunately, I was unable to get the App file to open and run. After a little further investigation, I found that creating a ‘Calendar Alarm’ instead of an ‘Application’ when I created the Automator script was recommended. I clicked on File >> New within Automator, then selected ‘Calendar Alarm’ this time. I then recreated the Automator script as described above, then saved it. Saving it caused Calendar to open, and the newly created ‘Calendar Alarm’ to be placed in the Calendar at the current time.

I tested it by double clicking the event in the Calendar and changed the time to a few minutes in the future. When the selected time came, both Vienna and Mail ran as programmed. I then double clicked the event again, then set it to run at 0400 every morning.

Now if I am traveling or otherwise do not have time to log in, my email and RSS feeds are downloaded every morning.

See all of my Mac OS X related posts


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