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There are some really powerful Mac automation tools out there, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

In Part 1 of this Mac automation series, we introduce some basic automation principles and some key ideas for developing a systems systems thinking mindset. We also take a look at five common automation tools for the Mac (TextExpander, Hazel, Keyboard Maestro, Automator, and AppleScript). We go through the strengths and weaknesses of each tool and what situations they are best suited for so you can start to recognize opportunities for automation in your own everyday use.

The full tutorial covers

  • Automation Overview
  • TextExpander
  • Hazel
  • Keyboard Maestro
  • Automator
  • AppleScript

Show Links:

TextExpander

Smile Software blog w/ Open in Chrome snippet

Hazel

Keyboard Maestro

OopsieFocus script

Comments

(2 comments posted)

John Russell

In Safari I use an adblocker extension. Some news media sites will not let me read their content unless I go behind the scenes to turn off the adblocker in the preferences. (Later I will want to turn it back on when I leave that site.) Which solution would you direct me to in order to do this toggling off and on? Thanks.

Mike Schmitz

Hi John,

The easiest way to automate something like this is to use keyboard shortcuts when they are available, but it doesn't look like this is possible with most Safari extensions. So IMHO the easiest way to solve this is create a Keyboard Maestro macro that did the following steps:

1. Activates Safari
2. Opened preferences (with a keyboard shortcut)
3. Selecting the Extensions tab (probably through manipulating the mouse cursor position and adding a click)
4. Selecting the ad blocker
5. Checking the box to deactivate the ad blocker
6. Closing preferences
7. Reloading the page

The process would be the same when turning it back on I would believe, and you could trigger the whole thing with a keyboard shortcut in Keyboard Maestro. You could also trigger it many other ways, but a keyboard shortcut would be most convenient IMHO.

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