Automator Icon in Launchpad

Prep your Mac with Automator


It’s funny how a tiny little thing like a notification pop-up or unexpected audio alarm can derail your key rig in the middle of a set. It might just cause an unexpected sound effect in the house or it might crash your software host! It’s important to try to close any unneeded programs and services prior to playing but how to remember to do it, and how can we be sure we get them all? If you’re running on Apple hardware there is a solution – automate it!

What is Automator?

Automator is an application on Mac OSX that allows the user to script a number of actions within the OS. We could accomplish something similar by writing a shell script but that requires some programming know-how. Automator simplifies script writing at the expense of power – not everything you want to mess with is necessarily scriptable with Automator. That said we can certainly get our machine in a performance ready state, and once we’re done it will only take a button click.

Getting Started

Step 1. Open Automator (you can find it in the Applications folder). It will prompt you to choose a file type – in this case we are going to choose “Workflow.”

Setp 1 - Choose Workflow

Step 1 – Start Automator, open a new file, and choose “Workflow” as the type

Step 2. In the window that opens you will see two workspaces: a tool tray on the left of available commands (1) and the workflow builder on the right (2). Take a look through the command options on the left. We have options to open and close programs, set system properties, and open files.

Library and Workspace

Step 2 – Review the Library of commands and the Workspace

Clean up the Mac before performing

Step 3. Let’s start by building a very simple workflow that will close all your active programs and turn off your alarm sounds. Click “Utilities” on the left column in the library and look for “Quit All Applications.” Drag it to the workspace. You will see that it is possible for you to add exceptions if you have software that needs to keep running (like if your software host is already open). Next find “Set Computer Volume” and drag it to the workspace as well. Set the alarm volume to zero.

Click Utilities

Step 3a – Click Ultilities

Quit All Applications

Step 3b – Drag the “Quit All Applications” Command to the workspace

Set the volume control

Step 3c – Drag the Volume command over and set alerts to zero.

Step 4. Sometimes there are things we want to do that we can’t find commands for. Automator is ready for that! Click the record button in the top right corner (1). Automator will close and you can click through whatever you want to do. In our case I clicked my wi-fi and turned it off. When you hit the stop button that hovers on the screen the commands will show up in the workflow (2).

Record additional commands

Step 4 – Record additional commands

Step 5. That’s it, we’re done! Now you can open this workflow, hit the run button in the top right and all the actions will occur BUT NOT YET! Seriously. You’ll lose the blog. It is kind of a hassle to have to open Automator to run the workflow so at the end I’ll show you how to convert this to an application for a true one-click preparation party of happiness. But what about getting things back to the way they were? Fear not…

Restore your Mac After a Gig

Step 6. Open a new Automator Workflow and make it look like the image below. You will have to add one “Launch Application” block for each app you want to have return. Don’t forget to record turning your wi-fi back on.

Restore your machine

Step 6 – Create a workflow to restore your machine

Turn Workflows into Applications

Step 7. Now that we have these two workflows you can run them back and forth to see if they are working correctly. Let me know about any problems in the comments. Now, before you actually DO the next steps you should test your workflows to see if they do everything that they should so either bookmark this and come back or read on and perform the steps when you are sure that your workflows are ready. First we need to convert this Workflow to an Application. Click “File” and “Convert To…” This will create a duplicate copy of your workflow that can be saved as an App.

Convert the workflow to an App

Step 7a – Go to “File” and select “Convert To…”

Select Application

Step 7b – Select “Application” as the file type

Step 8. Then choose “File” and “Save” and select “Application” in the drop down. You did it! An application to prime your Mac for some melodic goodness. Great Job!

Save File

Step 8a – Go to “File” and “Save”

Choose Application

Step 8b – Choose “Application” as the file type

Take it to the next level…

I have included links to the two workflows I use to clean up my Mac before playing and restore it afterwards. There are extra blocks that we have not discussed yet and you can visit the walk through on my Youtube channel for more information. I accept no responsibility for any way you may mess up your Mac by messing with the scripts. But that said, they are stable and work well on OSX Mavericks. Feel free to leave some feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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