Work faster, increase your efficiency, and have more fun with automation!

Take Control of
Automating Your Mac

Third Edition
Joe Kissell

Ever wondered if automation could make your life easier? In Take Control of Automating Your Mac, Third Edition, Mac expert Joe Kissell shows you how to save time and aggravation by using numerous built-in macOS tools, as well as helpful third-party apps, to automate routine tasks and procedures.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


Updated to cover Catalina and Mojave!

Looking for ways to work smarter and faster with your Mac? In this updated and expanded third edition of his popular guide to Mac automation, Joe Kissell shows how anyone, at any level of experience, can save time and effort, and avoid unnecessary errors, by using automation techniques that range from the simplest keyboard shortcut to the most complicated script.

In this book, Joe teaches you how to automate routine tasks in a wide variety of ways. You can begin by making the most of productivity features such as Siri, Spotlight (for launching apps), and text replacement—and then move on to the more sophisticated automation tools built into macOS, such as Automator, AppleScript, services, and shell scripts.

In addition, Joe gives extensive information about third-party automation apps that can make a huge difference to your work efficiency, such as Keyboard Maestro, TextExpander, OmniGraffle, and many more. As an extra bonus, the book includes coupons for discounts on 10 automation apps, adding up to more than $100 in savings!

Whether you’re new to automation, you just need a refresher, or you’re experienced with automation but want to go deeper, this book can teach you the skills you need to automate with ease. Take back your time, work more efficiently, and have more fun with your Mac, with Take Control of Automating Your Mac, Third Edition!

With this book, you’ll learn how to:

  • Get started with the built-in macOS automation tools, including Automator, AppleScript, and shell scripts
  • Take full advantage of input devices to save clicks
  • Customize toolbars and your Touch Bar to put hard-to-find controls at your fingertips
  • Use your voice to control your Mac with Siri, dictation, and Voice Control/Dictation Commands
  • Automate text expansion for faster, more consistent typing
  • Control the Finder with a launcher and by organizing files with Hazel
  • Supercharge your clipboard to remember and reformat previous copies
  • Write macros in Microsoft Office and Nisus Writer Pro
  • Create rules to file email automatically in Apple Mail and Outlook
  • Log in to websites faster with a password manager
  • Automate cloud services with IFTTT and Zapier
  • Set up automatic backup and syncing
  • Use Omni Automation for JavaScript-based automation tasks
  • Control nearly anything on your Mac with Keyboard Maestro

BONUS: We’ve included discounts totaling over $100 on 10 of the key apps Joe covers: 10% to 30% off on Keyboard Maestro, LaunchBar, Hazel, Nisus Writer Pro, Script Debugger, TextExpander, TextSoap, TypeIt4Me, Typinator, and UI Browser—look for coupons at the end of the book!

Joe Kissell

About Joe Kissell

Take Control publisher Joe Kissell has written more than 60 books about technology, including many popular Take Control books. He formerly wrote for publications such as Macworld, Wirecutter, and TidBITS. He lives in San Diego with his wife, his two children, and his cat.

The third edition contains numerous small changes to reflect revisions in macOS made to Mojave and Catalina. It also includes the following significant updates:

  • Updated the chapter "The State of Mac Automation," and added a sidebar about Shortcuts in iOS and iPadOS
  • Added information on using toolbars for shortcuts; see "Use and Customize Toolbars"
  • Revamped the topic "Control Your Mac with Your Voice" to cover changes to Siri, dictation, and Dictation Commands; see especially the new sidebar Voice Control Changes in Catalina and the new topic Use Dictation Commands in Catalina or Later
  • Explained new procedures for updating Apple software; see "Update Apple and Mac App Store Software Automatically," and particularly the topic "Configure Software Updates in Mojave and Later"
  • Added information about new security issues you might encounter while working with automation and how to handle them; see "Deal with the Mac’s Evolving Security Features"
  • Added two new topics to the "Automate Your Input Devices" chapter: "Use BetterTouchTool" and "Customize Your Touch Bar"
  • Made some adjustments in "Automate Nisus Writer Pro" to match the most recent version of the app
  • Updated "Automate Apple Mail with Plugins" to reflect currently available Mail plugins
  • Revised "Log In Faster with iCloud Keychain and Safari Autofill" to describe the way iCloud Keychain works with newer versions of macOS and Safari
  • Updated "Create Your Own Service" to reflect the fact that Automator uses the term Quick Action for services in Mojave or later
  • Added a sidebar, "From bash to zsh," covering the new default shell in Catalina
  • Removed information about products that have been discontinued since the last edition, which includes the Griffin PowerMate, Wappwolf Automator, and Scriptarian.

What versions of macOS does this book cover?

Unless otherwise noted, all the techniques in this book work with macOS 10.12 Sierra through 10.15 Catalina, and will likely work in future versions of macOS as well. Most of them work in older versions of macOS too—perhaps with minor modifications. In general, the older your operating system, the less likely you’ll find that everything works as described.

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • Automation Quick Start
  • The State of Mac Automation
  • Develop an Automator’s Mindset
  • Built-In Automation Features
  • Automate Your Input Devices
  • Automate Text Expansion
  • Automate the Finder
  • Supercharge Your Clipboard
  • Automate Individual Apps
  • Automate Email
  • Automate the Web
  • Automate Backup and Syncing
  • Discover macOS Automation Technologies
  • Use Services for System-Wide Shortcuts
  • Get Started with Automator
  • Get Started with AppleScript
  • Script the Command Line with Shell Scripts
  • Use Omni Automation
  • About This Book

MacVoices Interviews Joe About Third Edition of Mac Automation Book

Posted by Joe Kissell on November 23, 2019

Chuck Joiner of MacVoices interviewed Joe Kissell about the third edition of Take Control of Automating Your Mac. Learn what’s new and interesting in the world of Mac automation and what you can look forward to in the updated version of the book.

MacVoices Interviews Joe about Second Edition of Mac Automation Book

Posted by Joe Kissell on July 27, 2017

Chuck Joiner of MacVoices interviewed Joe Kissell about the huge update to Take Control of Automating Your Mac. Watch Joe and Chuck discuss the latest in Mac automation topics and explore what readers will learn in this book.

Joe Updates Book and MacVoices Automatically Interviews Him

Posted by Michael E. Cohen on April 1, 2015

As is automatic when a Take Control book gets a major update, Chuck Joiner of MacVoices interviews the book’s author. The 1.1 update to Take Control of Automating Your Mac is no exception. Watch Joe and Chuck chat about what’s new in this season’s update to a very useful book.

Joe Schools Chuck Joiner on How to Boss His Mac Around

Posted by Michael E. Cohen on June 27, 2014

Taking time off from working on his next ten books, Joe discusses with Chuck Joiner of MacVoices how to make your Mac do more so you have more time to have a life away from the keyboard. In this 40-minute interview, Joe outlines how to think about automating tasks on your Mac and why you don’t need to be a programmer to do it.


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