AppleScript: The Missing Manual
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: January 2005
Pages: 352

From newspapers to NASA, Mac users around the world use AppleScript to automate their daily computing routines. Famed for its similarity to English and its ease of integration with other programs, AppleScript is the perfect programming language for time-squeezed Mac fans. As beginners quickly realize, however, AppleScript has one major shortcoming: it comes without a manual.No more. You don't need a degree in computer science, a fancy system administrator title, or even a pocket protector and pair of nerdy glasses to learn the Mac's most popular scripting language; you just need the proper guide at your side. AppleScript: The Missing Manual is that guide.Brilliantly compiled by author Adam Goldstein, AppleScript: The Missing Manual is brimming with useful examples. You'll learn how to clean up your Desktop with a single click, for example, and how to automatically optimize pictures for a website. Along the way, you ll learn the overall grammar of AppleScript, so you can write your own customized scripts when you feel the need.Naturally, AppleScript: The Missing Manual isn't merely for the uninitiated scripter. While its hands-on approach certainly keeps novices from feeling intimidated, this comprehensive guide is also suited for system administrators, web and graphics professionals, musicians, scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and others who need to learn the ins and outs of AppleScript for their daily work.Thanks to AppleScript: The Missing Manual, the path from consumer to seasoned script has never been clearer. Now you, too, can automate your Macintosh in no time.

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oreillyAppleScript: The Missing Manual

(based on 4 reviews)

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


Not everything is missing ....

By pattristan

from Germany

Verified Reviewer


  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Helpful examples


  • Too basic

Best Uses

  • Novice
  • Student

Comments about oreilly AppleScript: The Missing Manual:

The book is good. I have to admit that I gave been writing scripts since system 7.0 and creating Applescript apps with Applescript-Studio for many years. And so there was only one "Aha!" up till now. Nonetheless, for people who are starting with Applescript, this is a great addition, highly recommendable.

Some of the examples could achieve the same result with half the code ....

(1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


Great starter book

By Nitewing98

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly AppleScript: The Missing Manual:

I just finished this book and found it very helpful. I'm an old Applescripter (since mid-90's) and have written on AppleScript for websites off and on. That said, I even learned a few things from Adam Goldstein's book.

Well done!

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


More of a MISS than a HIT

By Len Zigante

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly AppleScript: The Missing Manual:

I admit... I once was a programmer (albeit 20+ years ago) so my expectations for this manual were higher.

I originally started looking on the web for an applescript book a week ago and came across several unfavorable reviews for this book. However when I went to my bookstore they only had this and one other title in stock so I decided to look into them. After spending an hour scanning through both books, I thought this to be the superior manual based on its TOC, general appearance, and how the information and examples contained within were presented. Let me tell you that appearances are deceiving.

Contrary to what I originally thought, I found this book to be of minimal educational value. I just spent 8 hours a day for the last 5 days reading through this manual and trying its examples and am now on page 281 of it's 311 pages. At best I can say that I have a better understanding of what applescript can do but my ability to program anything worthwhile is going to require something much more meaty.

Sure this book has shown me how to make some dinky scripts to handle tasks I will never or rarely use. However it has barely taught me a thing about how to actually use applescript in a constructive way to produce scripts of real value. I have attempted several times now to understand & construct small scripts using previously unused dictionary functions for various applications and find myself frequently lost and confused. Referring back to this manual gives me little help in understanding how to construct and use the classes and commands correctly.

Furthermore, the information presented in this manual is meant to be read sequentially. Examples of previously unused commands are often presented in example scripts dealing with another topic. If you need to refer to examples of such commands later on you'll have to remember where you saw them. Another thing I found lacking was the absence of "tests" to challenge your understanding of the topic at hand.

On the other hand, this book is fairly easy to read and somewhat entertaining. I admit that some of it's scripts will be useful and it has given me an understanding of what applescript is capable of. Unfortunately I am going to have to purchase a more informative manual if I hope to have any ability at construct decent scripts to handle multiple applications.

I regret to say that overall I found this manual to be sorely lacking.

(1 of 4 customers found this review helpful)


Another Missing Manual Hit!

By Mary Norbury-Glaser

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly AppleScript: The Missing Manual:

For amazon:

AppleScript: The Missing Manual by Adam Goldstein is part of the Missing Manual series of beginner/intermediate books published by Pogue Press/O'Reilly and Associates. The focus of this book series is on computer products that have been released without adequate printed manuals (Mac OS X, iLife '04, Google, iPod and iTunes, Windows XP, Windows 2K among others). Their newest release, AppleScript: The Missing Manual, is a welcome addition to their catalog of smart, funny and user-friendly books.

AppleScript is a scripting language that mimics the syntax of English. As such, it's extremely similar to how sentences are structured and, as a result, is very intuitive and simple to use. However, this doesn't belie the fact that it's a very powerful tool for automation.

Goldstein's Missing Manual is an exciting newcomer to the meager collection of AppleScript introductory volumes. This book covers the current Mac OS 10.3 (Panther) release of AppleScript and includes multimedia support, GUI scripting and AppleScript Studio. While it is intended for the beginner and intermediate user, power-hounds will also find many tricks, tips and hidden tools within its pages.

The book is divided into four parts: "AppleScript Overview", "Everyday Scripting Tasks", "Power-User Features" and "Appendixes".

Part One begins with the usual suspects: where to find the AppleScript folder in Mac OS X, how to enable the script menu and the surprising number of useful scripts you'll find there. In just a few pages, Goldstein hands the reader a collection of valuable scripts that were hiding in OS X Panther all along (I particularly like the "ransom note" script).

Part Two is the main core of the book and covers "Everyday Scripting Tasks". The seven chapters in this section run the gamut of increasing difficulty: manipulating text, controlling files, creating lists, organizing and editing graphics, playing sound and video, internet and network scripting and organizing information in databases. The author quickly takes the reader through a series of simple scripts designed to illustrate AppleScript syntax.

Once the reader whips through the example scripts in Parts One and Two, it's time to get down and geeky. Part Three titled "Power-User Features", is the section of the book for geeks and wanna-be geeks. Goldstein shoves enough advanced techniques in five chapters to make these alone worth the price of the book. The reader learns how to enable folder actions, attach built-in folder actions to specific folders, view and edit these built-in folder actions and run his or her own actions.

My favorite chapter in this section is Chapter 13, Mixing AppleScript and Unix. Goldstein gives a quick terminal lesson followed by a neat trick to display the Expose button ("the blob"). Other helpful actions: use do shell script to run Unix programs straight from AppleScript, run shell scripts with admin privileges, run AppleScripts from Unix thus saving time by bypassing the Script Editor and schedule commands (use an AppleScript to run cron every day, use iCal to schedule scripts). Even users who normally shy away from the terminal will want to try some of these.

Part Four contains the Appendix A through C: "AppleScript Support in Common Programs" (a very useful set of tables of applications, their level of AppleScript support, price and where to get them), "Moving from Hypercard to AppleScript" (options and advice for converting Hypercard stacks to AppleScript and major syntax differences between HyperTalk and AppleScript) and "Where to Go from Here" (AppleScript sources: Web sites, discussion lists and books).

Goldstein's style of writing is exceptionally clear with just a dash of humor that humanizes the experience of reading a technical or "how-to" manual. The reader won't find anything confusing, lacking in detail or dull. This book is eminently satisfying on many levels: the writing style is conversational and humorous (I would imagine this is a pre-requisite for writing for David Pogue), the style of this book series is consistently pleasant to read and the level of technical difficulty satisfies the range of readers from beginner through power-user. The "valuable information:price" ration is, hands-down, in the buyer's favor.

A final note about Adam Goldstein, the author of Applescript: The Missing Manual...he is the teenage founder of GoldfishSoft (, a Mac OS X games and utilities software company (my 7 year-old son loves AlgeKalk and FrakKalk, geek that he is). By "teenage", I mean Adam Golstein is 17-ish. He began contributing to this Pogue/O'Reilly series several years ago by writing a few sections of Mac OS X Panther Edition: The Missing Manual (FileVault, journaling and Disk Restore). I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more from Mr. Goldstein...and I'm looking forward to it.

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