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Automation Tips for Indie Developers

When you are a one man show, you have to automate everything you can. If you do a task more than once, spend a minute to see if you can automate it. I have three apps that I use extensively for automation.


First, I use TextExpander from Smile Software to answer support emails. TextExpander has tons of features, but I mostly use it for canned responses to common support questions. You type in an abbreviation and it expands to the full text.

An example:

I type: “;addv”

I get: “Thanks for the feedback. Adding voice to the calls is the most requested feature and I hope to add to the app soon.”

I type: “;pleaserev”

I get: “If you like my app, please take the time to give it a nice review. It really helps.”

TextExpander Automation

I also make a snippet for links to the app store for each of my apps. I type ;fflink for the link to my fake phone call app. If you get a lot of similar support emails, you will use TextExpander all the time. Be careful not to respond with only canned text. It’s important to connect with your audience, so be sure to personalize your response if time allows. Although a bit clunky, their iOS app makes it easier to respond to support emails on your iPhone or iPad. I use TextExpander along with Clips for this.

Keyboard Maestro

Next, Keyboard Maestro allows you to assign hotkeys to a command or series of commands. You could assign Control+Option+Command+X to open Xcode, xScope, Spectrum or any other app you use during development. There are tons of other uses as it allows you to simulate a mouse click, pick a menu action to execute, or execute a series of keyboard presses. This can be handy for scraping data from a web site or formatting an XML file. It works well with Applescript, so you can automate just about anything.


Finally, no Mac user should be without Hazel from Noodlesoft. Hazel allows you to assign actions to folders. Save or drop a file in a folder configured with Hazel and any rules in Hazel will be applied to that file. You can move, delete, rename, upload, reveal in Finder, etc. I often use it for cleanup of older files and moving specific file types to new locations. Pro tip: Use Hazel together to execute actions on files synced through Dropbox on a remote Mac.

Hazel Automation


Final Thoughts

If you love automation, check out Brett Terpstra’s site. He is an automation ninja. Visit David Spark’s site, macsparky too. Good stuff on Hazel and TextExpander there.

Also, don’t forget Automator, Apple’s automation tool that comes with every Mac. I find myself using it for quick automations such as image resizing.

If you have a cool automation tip, let me know. I would love to feature it on the site.

Chris Beshore

I'm an indie iOS developer based in Kansas City, MO.

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