automator vs apple script

Discussion in 'macOS' started by neupane00, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. neupane00 macrumors member

    May 8, 2008
    hey guys, i tried to look around.. but can anyone please explain. I saw in utilities that there is a application called "automator".. also i hear about apple script. Seems like both does the same thing right? Whats the difference? is automator just visual interface for creating apple script? and the end result of automator is apple script that i can run?
    anyone can point me to right direction?
    1) what is apple script
    2) what is automator
    3) is the end result of automator an apple script
    4) if they are different what are pros and cons?
  2. BlakTornado Guest


    Apr 24, 2007
    Washington, OH
    AppleScript is an automation language that lets developers write automations for applications. It's not really targeted at the average user.

    Automator is a simple application that does simple automation, like resizing images and getting links from the internet.

    It can also record your mouse and follow try to copy exactly what you did (but it's a little buggy and unreliable)

    No. Automator produces workflows. AppleScripts have to be written by a developer or someone who can write AppleScript.

    - More Flexible
    - Can remember information and go back and obtain information from earlier.
    - It can think. For example, you can write "if" statements in AppleScript which do different things depending on circumstances. (I think)
    - Can save you a LOT of time if you are good with AppleScript
    - AppleScripts can be utilized by applications, such as iCal, and various others, to do various things. For example, you could create Scripts to launch applications when others quit, and so on.

    *there are probably more than this, but none that I can think of off the top if my head*

    - You need to learn the programming language to utilize it, and it can be tough and time consuming.
    - Adding on to the point about saving time, you can only save time if you are experienced with AppleScript. Chances are you'll spend more time trying to get your script doing the advanced things you want it to do automatically than it would take to do those things manually. Trust me, I know from experience.
    - Placing the wrong words in the wrong order can be CATASTROPHIC to your system. Applescript is a very vicious beast at times.
    - Some AppleScripts can cause vulnerabilities in your security. Various scripts people have set up with Mail to control their systems via email are an example. If someone realizes you have it set up, they could easily mess with your computer.
    - While Apple claims it's simple because it's like English, it's not simple (although compared to other languages it is). You need to learn it and that takes a lot of time and effort. Best to get someone else to give you the code if you're looking to do something that may require apple script.
    - Can be very time consuming.

    Personally, I find that AppleScript is great, but Apple could really refine it to make it a LOT simpler so that the average user can write them to do automations, like Apple had partially intended. At the moment, it's rather difficult and time consuming. Even simple tasks can be hard to automate, despite how easy it SHOULD be.

    - Requires NO scripting knowledge at all. This is a BIG time saver.
    - Can perform simple operations which could take a long time to do.
    - Is simple
    - Has a nice icon (Ok, grasping at straws now :p)

    - Underpowered. Can't "think". So no saying "Remember back when... Can you do .... with the data?" because Automator won't be able to do it.
    - Too consumer aimed. Only really handles photos and that's about it. Needs some more pro-aimed functions, as well as more consumer ones too. Just needs more functions.
    - Watch Me Do doesn't work that well yet. Needs refining.
    - You can't do things like get information from documents and pasting it into others.

    To put it short, Automator needs a lot of work done to it but it's a lot better than AppleScript in some ways. But in others, it just won't do what you want it to do at all, and a lot of Applications don't support it.

    Then again, Automator is in it's second revision and will obviously advance in due course. So don't be too disappointed with it yet. It still has a long way to go until it becomes our Virtual Slave, but it's a start.

    It really depends on what you're trying to do with either.
  3. neupane00 thread starter macrumors member

    May 8, 2008
    wow. thanks for detailed explanation, pros and cons. that was really helpful. GOLD STAR for you :)
  4. reclusivemonkey macrumors 6502


    Jun 2, 2008
    Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, UK
    I'd like to add my thanks as well; I have been playing with Automator and thought I was missing something but reader your post has made me realise that Automator isn't quite as powerful as I first thought! Well summarised.
  5. dickguertin macrumors newbie


    Sep 4, 2010
    Mountain View, CA
    Although this is an old thread, it deserves an update. With the advent of Mavericks and Yosemite, and now El Capitan, the role of Automator has become more important when dealing with Assistive Devices, something Applescript could handle. Now, you must use Automator to compile Applescript into applications by using the "Run Applescript" option. I've written a webpage about this topic, see: <>.

Share This Page