How to Schedule an Automator Workflow

This recipe shows how to run an Automator workflow automatically and to a schedule. A fun, if opaque, sub-title might be How to Automate Automator. This recipe makes use of a new Schedule Assistant task recently added to Power Manager.

Automator is a great visual automation tool included with Mac OS X. With Automator you can create workflows that perform long sequences of complex tasks; ideal for marrying up with Power Manager's scheduling capabilities.

We have previously looked at scheduling Automator workflows with Power Manager. In our previous recipe we used the command line tool automator to assist us. This works but involves writing a shell script to connect Power Manager and Automator.

In this recipe, we are going to use Power Manager's new Run an Automator workflow daily task.

Create a Daily Automator Event

Let's create an event to run an Automator workflow once a day at 3:15pm.

  1. Launch Power Manager.app
  2. Click Add… to create a new event
    Click Add to create a new event

    Click Add to create a new event

  3. Select the Run an Automator workflow daily task in the Schedule Assistant
    Select the Run an Automator workflow daily task

    Select the Run an Automator workflow daily task

  4. Choose or drag and drop your workflow onto Drop an Automator workflow here
    Choose the Automator workflow to schedule

    Choose the Automator workflow to schedule

  5. Continue to the When step
  6. Adjust the time and days of the week
    Adjust the time and weekdays to run the Automator workflow

    Adjust the time and weekdays to run the Automator workflow

  7. Continue to the Constraints step; we will skip the constraints for this recipe
    Continue through the Constraints settings

    Continue through the Constraints settings

  8. Continue to the Why step
  9. Name your new event and provide any notes
    Name and add optional notes for your Automator event

    Name and add optional notes for your Automator event

  10. Add to create your new Automator workflow event
    Confirm the event can be created and scheduled

    Confirm the event can be created and scheduled

    Your Automator workflow event is ready to go

    Your Automator workflow event is ready to go

Your Automator workflow will run using the command line tool automator and be performed as the active user. Automator is a visual tool and needs a user to be logged in to work.

If you need to perform tasks when no-one is logged in, consider scheduling a shell script.

The event above can be combined into a larger schedule and using Power Manager together with Automator, complex workflows can be expanded far beyond either application's individual capabilities.

Going further, if you need to pass in variables or files to your workflow, you can do this with our original recipe. Do this by extending the shell script following the automator manual page.

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Published by Graham Miln on