I want to open a GUI application (most likely Electron based) periodically on a Mac Book. The period will be configured (daily, hourly etc..) within the application. How would I go about achieving this?


There are numerous approaches you can take.

launchd or Third Party Launcher

You can use tools like macOS's built-in launchd or third party tools like Power Manager (which I wrote, so feel free to ask me questions about its use):

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Power Manager includes a task covering How to Schedule an Application to Launch on Mac OS X.

Prefer launchd over cron

You probably want to avoid cron because it does not operate in the current user's graphical session. cron is good for command line tools and scripts, but less well suited to graphical Mac applications.

AppleScript and Calendar

A simple AppleScript application combined with a calendar event's Open File as an alarm may be enough. The AppleScript snippet below will open a specified application and bring it to the front:

tell application "My Electron Application" to activate

These related questions go into specifics:

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How about an old school bash script, called by .bash_profile and .bashrc?

i.e. in your .bash_profile/.bashrc you can have:

# ...
bash /home/<user>/run.sh &

And in your run.sh you can sleep in a loop and activate the app.

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Launchd .plist file

You can create a plist file that will describe the job to be carried out by launchd at intervals you can define in the plist. There's some terminology that is easiest to learn by just reading another plist file, such as the one I've written below.

Once you've done that, you can move the plist file into ~/Library/LaunchAgents, which will run the job under your username.

Finally, get the launchd daemon to load your configuration file, which will start the job:

launchctl load chri.sk.launchd.plist

From then on, the job specified in the plist file will be carried out at the defined intervals, and will continue being carried out forever, or until you unload it:

launchctl unload chri.sk.launchd.plist

It will launch automatically on every system reboot, and re-launch if it is ever killed off.

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
    <plist version="1.0">

This opens up TextEdit every 60 seconds. Here's a pretty useful guide on defining intervals.

Any errors are written to the file path specified by StandardErrorPath.

Make the filename and the label value the same. Apple's naming convention recommends using a reverse hostname identifier, but in the absence of a domain name that belongs to you, you could simply use something like surname.firstname.jobtitle.

The launchd.plist man page defines all the property list keys and explains what they each do. Go to Terminal and type man launchd.plist.


    property hour : 3600
    property day : 86400
    property RunEvery : day
    property AppName : "An Application"

    on run
    end run

    on idle
        tell application named AppName to activate
        return RunEvery
    end idle

    on quit
        continue quit
    end quit

If you save this AppleScript as a stay-open application, and then run it, it will stay open and run the idle commands every day. Currently, to stop this script from continuing, you'd have to terminate it from the dock or Activity Monitor.

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