Mac Automation: saving Automator workflows

Now that you've been introduced to Automator, let's let's get into the "nitty-gritty." In the previous Automator post, we learned how to make a workflow that would take photos from your camera, import them into iPhoto, then allow you to e-mail them. Let's look at the three ways in which you can save this workflow for later reference.

Workflow File
You can save the workflow as an actual Automator workflow file by clicking File > Save; choose "workflow" from the format drop-down menu. By saving as an Automator workflow all of your actions are preserved, and when you re-open the file, you will be presented with your workflow just as you left it. This is a great way to save your workflow for editing later on.

Application (.app)
This is a really cool way to save your Automator workflow. 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.

You can also save any workflow as a plug-in for the Finder, Folder Actions, iCal Alarm, Image Capture, Print Workflow, or Script Menu. Let's try saving the workflow as a Finder plug-in. Select File > Save As Plug-in.

When you save an Automator workflow as a Finder plugin you will be able to access the workflow by right-clicking in any Finder window (including the Desktop) and pointing to More > Automator. (If you are using Mac OS X "Tiger," you can access this menu by right-clicking and pointing to "Automator"). In this Automator section, you will find all of your saved workflows, just click on one and it will start running.

I hope this shows you a little of what Automator can do for you. In the next Mac Automation post, I will show you how to create a Mac OS X plug-in using Automator.