AppleScript Basics

Peter Kitson


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Sample Chapter From AppleScript Basics
     Copyright © Jerry Stratton

Why AppleScript?

AppleScript can automate monotonous, repetitive tasks, or tasks that need to be performed at a specific time. Mac OS X can (using it’s built-in scheduler via programs such as Cronnix) run any script on the minute you need it to run.

AppleScript makes it easy to “talk” to standard Macintosh applications. It can “glue” applications together so that each application does what it does best.

AppleScript is amazingly easy to understand even in English:

Tell application “Netscape Communicator” to OpenURL “”

This is a valid AppleScript statement. If you use it, Netscape will open the CNN web site.

Script Editor

Every Macintosh comes with a program called “Script Editor” that allows you to create AppleScripts. It lets you write them yourself, or it lets you “record” your actions.

On Mac OS 9, the Script Editor is in your “Applications” folder, inside of “Apple Extras” and then “AppleScript”. In Mac OS X, the Script Editor is in the Applications folder, inside of the “Utilities” folder.

Recording Actions

Any action that is scriptable will be recorded and placed into Script Editor automatically.

Recording actions allows you to quickly build up a basic AppleScript. For example, if you go into Script Editor and hit the “Record” button before visiting a web page, you might end up with something like:

tell application "Netscape Communicatorô"


GetURL "" inside window 1

end tell

This tells the program (“application”) called “Netscape Communicator” to first active, and then get the URL (“GetURL”) called “”. Place it into “window 1”.

Open Four News Sites

Let’s say that you want to always start up your computer with a web browser for four news sites, each in its own window, arranged on your screen.

Go into Script Editor and get rid of whatever is currently there. Click “Record” and then go into Netscape Communicator. Open a new window for each of:





Once you’ve arranged the windows how you like them, save your script. Call it “Open News” and save it as format “Application”.

Quit Netscape and double-click your “Open News” AppleScript. It will open the windows mostly as you set it. There may be some issues--some of your steps were scriptable and others weren’t.

Recording steps is often the best way to begin creating an AppleScript.