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Review: FastScripts 2.5

Dan Frakes, Macworld.com | June 2, 2011
If you’re not a frequent user of scripts or workflows, FastScripts probably isn’t for you. But for those of us who count on AppleScript to increase our productivity, FastScripts is worth purchasing for its keyboard-shortcuts feature alone. But it also offers a number of other features that make scripts more efficient and easier to use.

If you’ve ever used AppleScript, Apple’s scripting language, you probably know that OS X’s Script Menu gives you quick access to any scripts located in /Library/Scripts and ~/Library/Scripts. But if running AppleScripts is a regular part of your daily routine, you owe it to yourself to check out Red Sweater Software’s FastScripts, a replacement for Apple’s Script Menu that offers a slew of improvements. I first reviewed FastScripts back in 2005; since then it’s gained a number of new features that have made it even more useful.

Like OS X’s own Script Menu, FastScripts looks for scripts in their official Mac OS X folders and separates each folder’s scripts within the menu. As with the built-in Script Menu, you can quickly open either of the official Scripts folders via a menu command. You can also edit a script, in your editor of choice, by Option-choosing the script; and you can reveal a script in the Finder by Shift-choosing the script.

But unlike OS X’s menu, FastScripts supports more than just AppleScripts and Automator workflows—you can also run Perl scripts and shell scripts. And if you’d like to store your scripts elsewhere, you can tweak FastScripts (using a Terminal command on the Red Sweater Software Website) to look for scripts in other folders, as well. (I wish you could perform this action from within FastScripts’ preferences window instead of having to use Terminal.) You can also give the FastScripts icon a custom color to make it easier to spot among all your other menu-bar icons.

Other unique features include a handy Recent Scripts sub-menu that provides quick access to scripts you’ve recently used. FastScripts also places user-level scripts and script folders above system-level items, which I find to be more useful than Apple’s approach (system-level scripts above user-level scripts); alternatively, FastScripts lets you combine user- and system-level scripts in a single list, rather than separating them within the menu.


FastScripts' menu when BBEdit is the active program—BBEdit-specific scripts are at the top of the menu with BBEdit-specific keyboard shortcuts displayed.

FastScripts also handles application-specific scripts better. As with Apple's menu, if you put application-specific scripts inside a folder named for the target application, and place that folder inside /Library/Scripts/Applications or ~/Library/Scripts/Applications (for example, ~/Library/Scripts/Applications/iPhoto for iPhoto-specific scripts), FastScripts will automatically display those scripts at the root level of the Script Menu whenever the target application (iPhoto, using the same example) is the frontmost program, hiding them whenever iPhoto is in the background or isn’t running. But Apple’s menu places application-specific scripts at the bottom of the menu, even though (again, to use our example) iPhoto-specific scripts are the ones you’re most likely to use when iPhoto is active. FastScripts displays application-specific scripts where they belong—at the top of the menu. FastScripts will even create these special application-name folders for you via a simple menu command.

 

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