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Review: FastScripts 2.5

Dan Frakes, | 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.

Behind the scenes, FastScripts also offers better performance and less-disruptive script execution. When you run a script or workflow from Apple’s Script Menu, you’ll often find that OS X switches away from the current application (either to the script itself or to another application called by the script) and never switches back to the original program. FastScripts, on the other hand, attempts to prevent such switching unless it’s actually necessary, and switches back to the original application when it can. Why OS X doesn’t work this way on its own, I don’t know.

But perhaps the most popular feature of FastScripts is that it implements full keyboard control and activation of scripts. For starters, you can choose a keyboard shortcut for activating FastScripts’ menu; you can then use the arrow keys to navigate to a particular script, and press Return to run that script. But even more useful is that FastScripts lets you, via its preferences window, assign keyboard shortcuts directly to individual scripts.

FastScripts is also clever about these keyboard shortcuts: If you assign a shortcut to an application-specific script (one located in the /Scripts/Applications/[application name] folders noted above), that shortcut will work only when the target application is frontmost. This means you won’t accidentally fire off an iPhoto script when you’re using iTunes. It also means you can assign the same keyboard shortcut to multiple scripts. For example, if you’ve got an Automator workflow for processing and exporting images in Photoshop, a similar workflow for exporting images from Acorn, and another workflow for exporting video from within Final Cut Express, you can assign Control+Shift+E to each workflow—you need to remember only a single “Export” shortcut.

Other new features include onscreen script-feedback messages (which require only a couple lines of simple code in your AppleScripts), as well as the capability to choose, using BBEdit-inspired naming, the order in which individual items are displayed in FastScript’s menu: If you add ##) to the beginning of an item’s name, where each # is any character you choose, those characters aren’t displayed in the menu, but are instead used to determine the position of the item. In other words, a script named 01)scriptname will appear above a script named 02)scriptname. You can also create a divider line in the menu by creating an empty folder in either Scripts folder and ending its name with -***.

Finally, since my original review, Red Sweater Software has changed FastScripts’ pricing: The utility is now completely free to use for up to ten keyboard shortcuts—all other features are fully accessible. Paying $15 simply unlocks unlimited shortcuts.


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