Setting up an automated email with Automator on a Mac

Note: Images are redundant, are visual aids to the tutorial, and do not provide significant information beyond what the text provides. They will not be transcribed unless upon specific request.

The application I will show you below how to create sends out an emergency e-mail upon login if the user responds to a seemingly-benign dialogue box with what’s normally the default option. I use this application on my decoy user account (similar username, uses one of my old passwords) so that if I am coerced into logging into my computer, I can get a message sent out without writing one. Warning: It will be obvious to a viewer that this script is running once you “ignore the update notification”. This does not run in the background. However, it should work quickly enough that you can prevent interference with the email, which would be more difficult to do if you were actually writing the email in real time.

Writing the Script:

Go to the Utilities folder within your Applications folder and open Automator.

Choose “Application” as your document type.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 22.21.

Make sure the Library options are open and select Utilities.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 22.22.

Select “Ask for Confirmation” from the list of actions and drag it into the workflow on your right.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 22.24.

Replace the “cancel” button with something saying “install update”.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 15.31.

Next, go back to the library and select “Mail”. Drag the “New Mail Message” action into the workflow.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 17.37.

Type a message, and select recipients. Your workflow should now look like this.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 17.53.

When you save your application, call it something benign like “VTN Update Check”.

Setting Your Script to Auto-Run:

Open System Preferences and go to Users and Groups.Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 15.43.

Select Login Items.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 15.45.

Click “+”, add your application, and check the “Hide” box.

What this should look like when running:

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 15.52.

Changing your Application’s Icon (not required):

Find something whose icon you would like to see in place of the robot icon.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 16.00.

Get Info (⌘ I) on the thing and select the icon.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 16.04.

Copy (⌘ C) the icon.

Open Preview and select “New from Clipboard”:

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 16.07.

You should see something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 16.08.

Save this file as AutomatorApplet.icns (doesn’t matter where.)

Now, find your application, right-click it, and select “Show Package Contents”:

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 16.11.

Open the Resources file and find the image AutomatorApplet.icns.Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 16.12.

Replace it with your new icon.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 16.14.

When you next run the program, it should look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 16.16.

This is my first tutorial of this kind, so if there are any problems, please alert me in the comments.



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