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Mac Automation: Integrating Spotlight searches with your workflows

Cory Bohon

We've discussed some pretty neat uses for Automator workflows in the past, but did you know you can easily integrate Spotlight searches into your automation workflows? Well, you can, and it might be easier than you think. In this Mac Automation post, I'm going to show you how you can integrate it into a workflow that will burn the resulting files to a CD or DVD.

Creating the workflow
To create this simple workflow, you'll need to use two actions. Find the "Spotlight" action and drag it to your workflow section; then, find the "Burn a Disc" action and drag it below the newly added Spotlight action. That's it; your workflow is now completed, but we need to tweak the actions.

Using the workflow
To test the workflow, you can enter a search term in the Spotlight action, and a Disc name in the Burn a Disc action. Insert a rewritable disc, or a regular CD/DVD, and click the "Run" button in the upper right corner of the Automator window. Automator will then go to work finding all of the search terms that matched files, then will then burn all found items to the disc. This could take a while to burn, depending on the resulting files.

Remember that all of the Spotlight tricks, such as exclusion, denoting kind, etc. are still available even though you're using the Automator action.

Saving the workflow
Make your workflow a reusable Automator application/workflow by clicking the options on each of the actions and enabling "Show this action with the workflow is run." This will let you change the settings after you've save the workflow as an application.

When you save the workflow as an application, it will appear just like an application file (.app) and will allow you to run the workflow by double-clicking (just like a real application). You can save a workflow like this by clicking File > Save, and selecting "application" from the format drop-down menu.

When you navigate to the save location, you'll be able to run the application and input a new search term and new disc name.

As you can see, integrating Spotlight searches into your workflows can be powerful. This one simple workflow is just a start of what you could do with searches; we'll have more on integrating searches in a future Mac Automation post.

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