Invoking Automator Workflows From The Command Line

There’s a great website at https://macosxautomation.com that provides a lot of information on using Automator to build automations for the Mac. When you build automations, you can run them by double-clicking on apps or workflows. You can also invoke them with the automator command.

The automator command can, surprisingly, be used to run automator workflows. I know, it’s crazy. Located at /usr/bin/automator the automator command can be used to fire up workflows. In its most basic incantation, you can invoke a workflow without much fuss. Here, I’ll use a workflow that just fires up a specific screensaver:

/usr/bin/automator ~/Desktop/screensaver.workflow

In addition, you can run workflows in verbose mode for simple troubleshooting using -v:

/usr/bin/automator ~/Desktop/screensaver.workflow

Which shows you each thing that happens in a step-by-step:

Starting Automator…
Start Screen Saver is running
Start Screen Saver is finished
The Automator workflow has completed.

You can also send input into a workflow using -I and you can use -D to set multiple variables with values, which I’ll cover in a later article.