In the ongoing struggle to make a laptop into an instrument, there’s inevitably the scramble onstage (or even in a studio) to get everything primed and ready to play. You want to adjust settings, launch certain applications, and generally get your laptop ready for actual music making.

Wouldn’t it be nice to make all of that happen automatically, magically, instantly, and robotically? It is, after all, a machine. (They’re supposed to be working for us, I’m told, assuming they’re following the Three Laws.)

Martin Delaney, London-based Ableton Live trainer, has put together a nice tutorial for production education center Dubspot with one way of accomplishing that using Apple’s free Automator. I was always a fan of Automator, particularly in its use in the workflows for the Soundtrack Pro audio editor from Apple, but it seems like almost no one else (Apple included) seems to remember it’s there. So here’s a way to put it to some free, powerful use.

Of course, there are probably other ways of accomplishing this – shell scripts and the like – if anyone wants to suggest something. Automator has the advantage of some serious ease of use.

Have a look, and download this set of Automator actions free:
Video Tutorial: Simplify Your Ableton Workflow Using Appleā€™s Automator [Dubspot]

  • Can you record Automators directly into clips?

  • I am on a PC and use Robotask. It's great because I use it in concert with Bome's MIDI Translator:
    my iPad MIDI interface has buttons like "Launch Rotator" or "Launch Holding" (those are song names), Bome's MIDI translator translates those CC commands into key commands on my computer, and Robotask recognizes the key commands to launch tasks that load the songs for me. Since I'm audio/visual, I do the same thing with Resolume sessions. It makes my setup a lot easier! Not to mention that I use Robotask to do all of my initial configurations.

  • Thanks Peter! I love Automator. I hope to do more with it in the very near future.

  • scott

    not to take umbrage, peter, but just how is Soundtrack Pro defunct? it's still included in Logic Studio, even if not in FInal Cut X. did i miss something? it's not available as a separate purchase but it's still being used AFAIK.

  • Bynarlogic

    I'm kind of curious to see if anyone has put VBA macros on the PC to good use with music applications. I do this all day long at work but I'm on a Mac at home. Automator is pretty sweet but I would imagine that there would be some pretty nice possibilities tapping into Ableton's dll library. 

  • stk

    I've used AutoHotKey & Bome's Translator on PC to achieve what Will Copps mentions above, for free.

  • now that's useful!

  • I highly recommend QuicKeys on OSX to go even further than just Automator. QuicKeys can automate just about anything on your system in the background and has way more advanced features than Automator, like timed actions, global and app-specific actions, and even the ability to translate and map MIDI commands to keyboard shortcuts, applescripts, automator workflows and any application menu item (even contextual menus), which is especially helpful for music production.

    So I can do things like make Maschine feel even more like a standalone hardware by mapping a button on the hardware controller to launch the software so it feels like turning the power on.

  • Quicksilver also has a really convenient feature called triggers.  

    I used to use automator for this task, but I found that some applications need to be fully loaded before other applications open to ensure that they are synched correctly, so I ended up switching over.  Now I press control + a letter in the qwerty row, and each one opens a specific file.  For the sensitive applications I can wait until its' fully loaded before opening the next one.

    I've also found that ad-hoc networks drop out more often than private networks driven by a wireless router.  I keep an airport express plugged into the back of my rack and have found that i get a much more stable connection.

    Nice post!

  • hoping dubstep fades out as fast as it faded in from the mutated afterbirth of bad drum and bass.

  • Opz

    I recently discovered that using an Automator Workflow/Application to launch all desired applications (Automap/Osculator/UAD-2 meter/Live) introduces a bug on my particular system. When the workflow/application has finished Live will not work properly. The problem: GUI's from external plugins (VST and AU) will never pop up until I quit and relaunch Live. After that the problem is non existent, it's only present after the very first launch of Live using Automator. I've already been in contact with Ableton Support. I've tested a few settings and setups and they all gave the same conclusion: for my system (Mac Pro 8-core, Snow Leopard) Live can't be launched using Automator.