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automate your macIf you’re spending most of your day working at your Mac, you should try to automate as many tasks as possible. I’ve written articles about using several of Apple’s automation features, including Automator workflows 10 Automator Hacks You Can Create & Use Today [Mac] 10 Automator Hacks You Can Create & Use Today [Mac] Read More , smart mailboxes Five Essential Smart Mailboxes For Apple Mail [Mac] Five Essential Smart Mailboxes For Apple Mail [Mac] Read More , smart playlists How To Create 5 Smart iTunes Playlists For iPad, iPhone & iPod How To Create 5 Smart iTunes Playlists For iPad, iPhone & iPod Read More  and most recently about the power of third party programs like Keyboard Maestro Automate Everything On Your Mac with Keyboard Maestro [Mac] Automate Everything On Your Mac with Keyboard Maestro [Mac] I've written several articles about Mac automation, including a MUO Automation Guide on how to get started with Apple's Automator and the built-in OS X features for creating smart folders, playlists, albums, and mailboxes. But... Read More and Hazel Hazel - Performing Tasks On Your Mac So You Don't Have To Hazel - Performing Tasks On Your Mac So You Don't Have To I have previously written an entire MUO guide about using Apple's smart folders and Automator program, but a classic third-party application called Hazel is one of my personal automation assistants that works in the background,... Read More .

Without knowing a single word of code, we Mac non-developers can practically automate any redundant task on our computers. From launching most-used websites and typing regularly used words and phrases to cleaning up files and folders. Most of these Mac tips can be accomplished using Keyboard Maestro or Automator, but if you’d rather not bother with creating macros and workflows, the following tips and applications only take a few minutes to set up and execute.

Automate Launch Items

Startup: If you boot your computer every morning, hopefully you have it set up to boot automatically. If not, simply launch System Preferences > Energy Saver, and then click the Schedule… button. You can schedule the time you want your Mac to start or wake while you’re getting your first cup of coffee, for example.

automate your mac

Login Applications: You also want to make sure you have assigned some of your most-used and best Mac apps to automatically launch when logging into your Mac (or when your computer logs in for you.) Launch System Preferences > Users & Groups, and then click on the Login Items button. Here you can add the applications you want to open at login.

automate mac os x

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Open Webpages: Also notice it says, login “items”, not just applications. So you can actually have designated webpages, files, or folders launch after login. To set this up, first open the web pages in your default web browser. Create a new folder on your desktop, and give it a title, such as “Automatic Webpages.” Next, click on and drag the icon and URL  for each webpage to the folder.

automate mac os x

Put the folder of webpages in your Documents or Applications folder so they won’t be accidentally deleted. Now, add each webpage to your Login Items list as you do with applications.

If you don’t reboot every morning, but you want to have specified applications automatically launch at different times of the day, check out Tasks Till Dawn Schedule Daily Tasks With Tasks Till Dawn [Mac] Schedule Daily Tasks With Tasks Till Dawn [Mac] Let's say you just want to schedule a few little daily or weekly tasks on your Mac and you don't feel like hauling out Automator or figuring out a script in AppleScript. Well, a small... Read More .

Automate Mail

One of the biggest time wasters on any computer is email. To keep Mail from launching throughout the day, I’ve turned off Mail notifications, and use Mail rules 2 Simple Apple Mail Rules To Better Deal With Incoming Emails [Mac] 2 Simple Apple Mail Rules To Better Deal With Incoming Emails [Mac] Read More and smart mailboxes Five Essential Smart Mailboxes For Apple Mail [Mac] Five Essential Smart Mailboxes For Apple Mail [Mac] Read More to handle my most important emails. You can use VIP folders and smart folders to focus on online email from designated senders, and then ignore the rest until later in the day.

Schedule Emails

Another mail-related automation involves setting up a schedule to send emails later. If you regularly send out letters to clients for job related work, you can use a Gmail service like Boomerang Schedule Emails to Send Later with Boomerang for Gmail in Chrome Schedule Emails to Send Later with Boomerang for Gmail in Chrome Gmail is in ingenious tool for managing emails. Much of what it is lacking per default, is covered by Gmail Labs apps or browser add-ons. Boomerang is a browser add-on available for Chrome that let's... Read More to schedule and send designated messages later, or an Apple Mail plug-in called MailHub Mac Mail - 5 Plugins That Will Rocket Your Productivity Mac Mail - 5 Plugins That Will Rocket Your Productivity I have previously covered timesaving features in the latest version of Apple's Mail client, but despite its improved user interface, search features, favorites bar and VIP folders, there are still missing features Mac power users... Read More to remind you to send saved emails. The iPhone app, Mailbox Mac Mail - 5 Plugins That Will Rocket Your Productivity Mac Mail - 5 Plugins That Will Rocket Your Productivity I have previously covered timesaving features in the latest version of Apple's Mail client, but despite its improved user interface, search features, favorites bar and VIP folders, there are still missing features Mac power users... Read More  also includes a mail reminder.

Boomerang

Automatically Hide Applications

If you open several different applications throughout the day, it’s easy for your desktop to become cluttered. Houdini (Free) can help un-clutter your desktop by automatically hiding designated applications after a certain period of inactivity.

automate mac os x

You can specify the amount of inactive time for your most used applications, from Never to 5 Minutes. It will take you a few days to figure how much time to assign to each application, but from there you won’t have to hassle with hiding programs when you need them.

Automate Typing

If you’re a Mac power user, you probably know that you can use an application like TextExpander ($34.95) to help speed up your typing. I reviewed TextExpander Save Time & Typing With TextExpander [Mac & iOS] Save Time & Typing With TextExpander [Mac & iOS] Normally we don't review applications priced over $10, but I constantly run into computer users who don't use a text expansion program, though they do a significant amount of typing. I shake my head in... Read More back in January. Basically, it allows you to create short abbreviations that trigger words, phrases, and even entire boilerplate letters.

automate mac tasks

So, for example, when I want to type my name, I simply type “bk”, and the text expansion program immediately replaces that abbreviation with my first name, “Bakari.” If you’re not using a text expansion program, you’re wasting tons of time typing on your Mac.

Automatic Screen Dimmer

Though it may be hard to tear yourself away from your computer, it pays to actually go to bed at a decent hour. A screen dimmer called F.lux 10 Automator Hacks You Can Create & Use Today [Mac] 10 Automator Hacks You Can Create & Use Today [Mac] Read More  (Free) may help you do just that.

automate your mac

Jackson Chung reviewed F.lux Use F.lux To Sleep Better After Late-Night Computer Activities Use F.lux To Sleep Better After Late-Night Computer Activities Read More back in 2009, but since then it has been improved to give users better control over adjusting the brightness and light temperature for daytime and nighttime light adjustments. You can even adjust how slowly the dimming occurs, from 20 seconds to as slow as one hour. Believe me, when you have your screen automatically dim at specified time, and your computer set up to shut down at a designated time, that might be all it takes for you to call it a day.

Setting up these applications and Mac tips does take time, but you gain it all back (and then some) the more tasks you automate. Let us know if these suggestions are helpful to automating your day.

What’s your productivity set-up like? With so many distractions, how do you get things done? Leave your thoughts, below.

  1. Daniel Hou
    May 30, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    F.lux is a great program to really help reduce eye strain if you are on the computer. I found that If you have F.lux set on a warmer color at all times compared to the default cool blue, you won't really notice the difference in screen color. Also, F.lux reverts back to it's "True" colors when messing with graphic design programs such as the Adobe CS Suite.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      Daniel, I'm still kind of getting used to the warmer color, but you're correct it does help with getting less strain on your eyes.

      • Daniel Hou
        June 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm

        It took a few weeks for me to get used to but the program has really grown on me these past few years. Great article by the way!

  2. Matthew P
    May 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Great Post. Do you know if there is a similar out there for Ubuntu

    • Bakari Chavanu
      May 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Matthew, thanks for your feedback. Unfortunately I don't know enough about Ubuntu to say what automation programs exists for it. Maybe a quick search of automation + Ubuntu will deliver some results. Good luck.

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