I've recorded some actions and made an Automator workflow out of it. It's basically some clicks, selecting something in drop-down menues and quitting the app. I run the workflow at 10x speed, but it's still fairly slow. Is there a way to speed it up beyond 10x? It can also run in the background, invisibly, I don't need to see the steps. I don't know if it's possible.

  • Are you hoping to save seconds or minutes per run? Which actions consume the bulk of the time – is it the application being automated? Are you able to share more information about the applications involved and the workflow? Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 19:14
  • I was trying to make smaller sized PDFs from larger ones (I mean the file size). Acrobat was producing bad quality, but Preview using Quartz filter worked just fine. I wanted to use Keyboard Maestro, but couldn't get to the dropdown menu. So my recorded workflow was 1. open file in Preview 2. Click the File tab 3. Hold Alt key 4. Click Save As (which is not available without Alt key) 5. In the drop-down select the Quartz filter Reduce file size 6. Save 7. Confirm overwriting original file 8. Cmd-W All the mouse movements are sort of slow.
    – linda2016
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 19:31

2 Answers 2


Drag the steps from inside the watch-me-do into the main workflow. This will turn each step into a little Applescript that you can edit. It uses a different means of clicking menu items that don't involve actually moving the cursor. There's also a delay in the code that you can edit. Note however that since it's a different means of clicking menu items, you may need to test it to make sure everything still works as intended. I've had to increase delays to overcome things like waiting for an app to "activate". And some watch-me-do actions may not be able to be dragged into the workflow and turned into Applescripts.

  • 1
    Great! I recorded a long text inserted in a window that required a lot of time, also if I speed up the playback. But with this trick no more a long time waiting! The only note; after drag the action from the "watch me do" workflow we nee to delete it and then to move the workflow after the Applescript.
    – Antonio
    Commented Jun 16 at 16:45
  • Glad it worked for you. Yes, you can delete the watch-me-do if all the steps could be converted or you can remove selected steps from it. You can also just straight-up paste all the AppleScript code into a single script in Script Editor, if you want.
    – hepcat72
    Commented Jun 16 at 19:44

Try this alternative approach in Automator. Be sure to back up any PDFs before applying this workflow – the originals will be overwritten.

In Automator.app, create a new workflow and add the following actions:

  1. Ask for Finder Items, with Allow Multiple Selection
  2. Apply Quartz Filter to PDF Documents, selecting the Reduce File Size option Compress PDF workflow

When run this workflow will let you select multiple PDFs and then overwrite those files with reduced file size versions. It performs the equivalent steps as the original workflow, but is faster than scripting Preview.app.

  • Sorry, it's a new account because of password problems and I can't seem to comment. I've already tried the workflow you describe, but the problem was that it didn't respect the cropping applied in Acrobat, the Preview method did. In the Quartz filter options I couldn't find anything regarding cropping :(
    – user180802
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 9:56
  • Unfortunate the Automator action does not offer the same options. Try asking a new question saying what you want to achieve with your PDFs – reduce their file size and crop them. A new question focused on your intention should open up your options. I suspect command line tools and other approaches will be suggested. Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 11:23
  • @linda20162 Please use the contact form to have your accounts merged.
    – nohillside
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 11:29

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