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Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Workflows as Programs and Plug-ins

Building an Automator workflow is a satisfying intellectual exercise and a delicious talent to acquire. But if the point of all the effort is to create a saving, step-saving software robot, there seems to be something missing. Are you really going to open the Automator program just to run a workflow you've written?

Nope. You can save a workflow as a regular, double-clickable application, if you like, or embed it in shortcut menus all over your Mac.

Saving a Workflow as an Application

If you just choose File→Save, you create an Automator Workflow file (with filename extension .workflow). That's the format of most ready-to-use workflows you'll find online, too.

In the Save As dialog box, however, there's another choice for saving your workflows: as an application (Figure 7-13).

A workflow saved as an application has all the benefits associated with normal Mac OS X programs. You can double-click its Finder icon to launch it, drag it to the Dock for one-click launching, or—with the addition of file-launching shareware like LaunchBar or iKey—even associate a key combination with it so that you can run your workflow with a quick press of a function key.

Automator has two choices for workflow formats: Workflow (the default) and Application (the non-default). If you're not sure which format you'll want to use for a particular workflow, you can save it once in each format—the workflow runs equally well either way.

Figure 7-13. Automator has two choices for workflow formats: Workflow (the default) and Application (the non-default). If you're not sure which format you'll want to use for a particular workflow, you can save ...

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