automator

Automating Billing with TextExpander and Automator

In my day job, we use an antiquated old Windows PC system for managing our billing. It takes multiple mouse clicks and butten presses to make a simple entry. It almost feels like I have to walk across the office and turn a wheel somewhere to make a billing entry. Several years ago I decided I was done with it.

Instead, I started making my billing entries in a Byword file called, unsuprisingingly, billings. I keep this file open as I go through my day and make entries with a series of cryptic TextExpander snippets.

For example:

xrvc

expands to

## Roadrunner v. Coyote

and

xtto

gets me

Place telephone call to opposing counsel concerning

Using these snippets it is really easy to capture billing entries as I move through my day. The Billings file syncs through iCloud to my iPhone and and iPad and I use TextExpander touch on those devices too (syncing through Dropbox) so billing entries are no more difficult there.

Another snippet I use every morning is

xbill

Which renders the date and summary information.

#2013-04-10 Billings

Totals

B

NC

Admin

CD

At the end of the day, I email the text file off to one of the staff members so she can click buttons, turn dials, and feed coal into our billing system.

About the hundredth time after I copied the text, went and started a new email and then pasted it in, I realized that there must be an easier way to automate this. Of course there is. I use Automator to create and send an email to my assistant every day with my billing text. Here's the Automator service workflow.

The workflow takes the selected text and then prepares an email. It then copies the selected text in the body of the email and uses the recipient and subject line I specify. Then it automatically sends the email. Except for selecting the text and firing off the service, I have no interaction whatsoever. (I should probably attach a keyboard shortcut to make this feel even more magical.)

This is the first automation service I've created that sends off an email without me even looking at it and at first it was a little weird but now I've gotten over it and I love that my Mac does it all for me.