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Automator Question

589 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: Feb 3, 2013 12:49 PM by HD RSS
jestory Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Feb 1, 2013 5:44 PM

I'm a complete novice to the Automator App.  I'm trying to create a keyboard shortcut for Word, Excel etc. so I can open the programs using the keyboard rather than the mouse or trackpad. 

I can create the workflow in Automator, select "Run" and it executes the workflow but the book I'm using to learn, Missing Manual for Mtn. Lion, states after creating the workflow to "go the the very top of the workflow pane, change the pop-up menus so theat they read, "Service receives no input in any application" (where the underlined phrases are pop-up menus).  I don't see the phase "Service receives etc etc." anywhere in Automator.

Next after saving the workflow the book states to "Open Sys. Pref., keyboard, keyboard shortcuts.  Click "Services", then find your new Service and give it a keystroke shortcut. 

I don't find my new "Service" or workflow anywhere in the "Keyboard Shortcuts" area.


If you can't answer the questions any suggestions for either books or websites concerning the Automator app. would be appreciated.


iMac, Mac OS X (10.7.2)
  • red_menace Level 6 Level 6 (14,315 points)
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    Feb 1, 2013 6:01 PM (in response to jestory)

    Automator can create several different types of workflows.  You can create a Service workflow (which has the mentioned popups) by selecting the Service document type when creating your workflow.

  • Barney-15E Level 7 Level 7 (33,560 points)
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    Feb 2, 2013 6:35 AM (in response to jestory)

    I've seen where I need to activate the Service from the Menu once before the shortcut will work.

    The other possibility is that the service is silently failing.

  • HD Level 4 Level 4 (3,240 points)
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    Feb 2, 2013 2:26 PM (in response to jestory)

    Launch Automator and choose Service as the type:

    Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 22.08.36.png


    Add a Run AppleScript action, delete all the text inside, then write a one-line script:


    Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 22.10.47.png


    (This is for Numbers. You'll need to find the precise name of your application, from memory it may be "Microsoft Excel") Make sure the settings at the top match the screen shot: Service receives no input in any application


    Save the Service workflow. I called mine run Numbers. Quit Automator if you like.


    Launch System Preferences, go to Keyboard, Keyboard Shortcuts, Services, General, select your Service:


    Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 22.16.12.png


    Choose a shortcut, quit System Preferences, test the shortcut.


    Hope this helps with the process.

  • HD Level 4 Level 4 (3,240 points)
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    Feb 2, 2013 3:01 PM (in response to HD)

    Better version of first screenshot:


    Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 23.00.40.png

  • HD Level 4 Level 4 (3,240 points)
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    Feb 3, 2013 9:35 AM (in response to jestory)

    It's a great place to live!

  • HD Level 4 Level 4 (3,240 points)
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    Feb 3, 2013 11:50 AM (in response to jestory)



    The workflow files are located in folders inside the LIbrary folder of your user account. In Lion and Mountain this is hidden by default in Finder. To access it, pull down the Go menu in Finder and then press the Alt key (? Option in US) on the keyboard - LIbrary will appear in the menu and you can select it to open it.


    Inside the Library folder is one folder callled Services and another called Workflows. Services contains Services you have created yourself. Workflows contains subfolders for Workflows, Applications, Folder Actions etc.


    Alternatively, right-click on a Service in the keyboard shortcuts pane in System Prefs and choose Show in Finder.


    Removing the files from these folders will remove them from the keyboard shortcuts list in System Prefs, but you may need to log out of your account and log back in again to see the change.


    Without more detail about what the workflows do, it's hard to say why they might stop working. Is it just the keyboard shortcut that fails, or do they stop working from the Services menu too?





  • HD Level 4 Level 4 (3,240 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 3, 2013 12:49 PM (in response to jestory)

    Glad to be of help! I don't think there's any way of sending private messages on these forums, the content is intended to be open to all. I tend not to publicise my email address on any sort of public forum either!


    Hope you get the workflows sorted out, post back if you need more help.




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