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How to back up your Automator creations before macOS Monterey ships

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Since Apple will introduce shortcuts to macOS Monterey in the fall, it may be worth backing up all your Automator workflows before you land. Here’s how to back up your automations.

The shortcuts follow Automator and AppleScript to allow users to automate various tasks on their Mac. The macOS system will borrow the same idea as its mobile counterpart, in that commands can be dragged and plugged together in a single shortcut. .

While simplifying automation will be welcome, the inclusion of shortcuts means users will need to be careful that existing systems eventually disappear.

Craig Federighi assured viewers of the keynote address that Automator will continue to receive support, but not for how long, other than being part of a “multi-year transition.” As for AppleScript, while it didn’t mention the system at all, it seems likely to stick around, as it provides greater access to macOS features than Automator, and apps like Pixelmator Pro use it as well.

The shortcuts in macOS seem to be very similar to their iOS counterparts.

To help users move from Automator to Shortcuts, Apple says it will be possible to import existing Automator workflows into the new system.

However, as there is always the possibility of something going wrong during the early stages of a product launch, it may be a good idea to back up your Automator creations, just in case.

What is Automator?

Automator is a tool that you can use to create processes that can handle repetitive tasks. Instead of going through multiple steps at a time for each individual file in a folder, you can potentially automate it using Automator.

You define the multiple steps required to perform a task once, using a library of predefined actions to create a workflow. This workflow can be saved and activated each time you need to perform the task, either as a quick action or as a keyboard shortcut, or in various other ways.

Automator will be compatible with macOS Monterey, but it will be available on borrowed time.

Automator will be compatible with macOS Monterey, but it will be available on borrowed time.

As expected, saved workflows are saved as workflow files.

For more complex commands, you can also configure AppleScript scripts within Automator. These use a scripting language to perform similar tasks but with considerably more flexibility than the standard workflow.

Automation tracking

Automator does not include a default backup feature as part of the tool. It is usually based on other backup systems used for Mac in general, so it would be tools like Time Machine.

If you want to make a separate copy of just the automations, it’s all about crawling the files and copying them to your backup storage.

This is tricky for a few things, not just because you haven’t necessarily saved the workflow to its default location. Add in that the default locations are generally hidden folders on the Mac, and it becomes a bit difficult trying to track where things are going.

How to see and hide hidden folders in macOS

  • Press Command-Shift-Period to show all hidden files and folders on Mac.
  • To hide them again, press Command-Shift-Period a second time.
The library directory you need is hidden, but a quick keyboard shortcut makes it visible.

The library directory you need is hidden, but a quick keyboard shortcut makes it visible.

The default location assigned to a script or automation performed with the Automator tool will vary depending on the type of document you created.

  • For workflows and applications, you have the option of being able to save it to the last folder you saved it to or manually change it to a different one.
  • Services and quick actions are saved in the directory: / Users / USERNAME / Library / Services /
  • Folder actions, despite being assigned to specific folders, are actually stored in one location: Users / USERNAME / Library / Workflows / Applications / Folder Actions /
  • Calendar alarms are saved in the directory: / Users / USERNAME / Library / Workflows / Applications / Calendar /
  • The Image Capture Plugin saves to the directory: / Users / USERNAME / Library / Workflows / Applications / Image Capture /
  • The location to save the dictation command is the directory: / Users / USERNAME / Library / Speech / Speakable Items /
  • The print plug-in is saved in the location: / Users / USERNAME / Library / PDF Services /

In each of the directory paths above, change the word “Username” to the username of the user account. Once you have found the scripts, copy and paste them into the backup folder.

Stay up-to-date on all things Apple on the weekly AppleInsider podcast and get a quick update on AppleInsider Daily news. Just say “Hi Siri” to your HomePod mini and request these podcasts, and also our latest episode of HomeKit Insider.

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