AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition
Scripting and Automating Your Mac
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: January 2006
Pages: 592

Mac users everywhere--even those who know nothing about programming--are discovering the value of the latest version of AppleScript, Apple's vastly improved scripting language for Mac OS X Tiger. And with this new edition of the top-selling AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, anyone, regardless of your level of experience, can learn to use AppleScript to make your Mac time more efficient and more enjoyable by automating repetitive tasks, customizing applications, and even controlling complex workflows.

Fully revised and updated--and with more and better examples than ever--AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition explores AppleScript 1.10 from the ground up. You will learn how AppleScript works and how to use it in a variety of contexts: in everyday scripts to process automation, in CGI scripts for developing applications in Cocoa, or in combination with other scripting languages like Perl and Ruby.

AppleScript has shipped with every Mac since System 7 in 1991, and its ease of use and English-friendly dialect are highly appealing to most Mac fans. Novices, developers, and everyone in between who wants to know how, where, and why to use AppleScript will find AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition to be the most complete source on the subject available. It's as perfect for beginners who want to write their first script as it is for experienced users who need a definitive reference close at hand.

AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition begins with a relevant and useful AppleScript overview and then gets quickly to the language itself; when you have a good handle on that, you get to see AppleScript in action, and learn how to put it into action for you. An entirely new chapter shows developers how to make your Mac applications scriptable, and how to give them that Mac OS X look and feel with AppleScript Studio. Thorough appendixes deliver additional tools and resources you won't find anywhere else. Reviewed and approved by Apple, this indispensable guide carries the ADC (Apple Developer Connection) logo.

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oreillyAppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition

(based on 6 reviews)

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Good comprehensive overview

By jchildress

from Bloomington, IN

About Me Sys Admin

Verified Buyer


  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written


    Best Uses

    • Novice

    Comments about oreilly AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition:

    The book does a good job of giving a good understanding of the inner workings of AppleScript, or at least enough of one to explain what otherwise appears to be quirky behavior. I am a casual, very limited AppleScript user and the book clarified a lot of things in my mind.


    Reasonable content, poor organization

    By Fábio Fortkamp

    from Florianópolis, Brazil

    About Me Student

    Verified Reviewer



      • Difficult to understand
      • Poorly organized
      • Useless Examples

      Best Uses

        Comments about oreilly AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition:

        This book teaches what AppleScript is, but not how to program it.

        I am confortable with programming, so I could look on reference materials to learn AppleScript. However, this language has an unique syntax, a model where you look up at a "dictionary" to "tell applications something", and is integrated into OS X. So I wanted a book that taught me the "philosophy" of AppleScript. The first three chapters (Part I of the book) do that, but they are too lengthy, and it takes the reader several pages to see actual, useful code she could understand.

        Part II is all about the language, and here the poor organization reveals itself. In my mind, introducing a language means explaining briefly the main elements: variables, values, functions, conditional blocks, and then elaborating on them. For some reason, the author spends pages and pages on script objects, which I consider a highly advanced topic, before even talking about loops. Before reading the whole Part II, it is impossible for the reader to build a useful script. In addition, the author also says he does not want to make the book dependent on specific apps, so he seldom uses real-life examples. I think that AppleScript without an app to target is useless (unlike Python or other programing languages, which can be very useful without external libraries), and the author could use built-in apps such as the Finder, TextEdit, Safari.

        Part III is also nice, but not very important. It contains nice information on using Unix, or scripting non-scriptable applications, or information about speed. What I do like a lot is Appendix A, where the author explains how he creates a script, from researching a dictionary to design a basic algorithm, and I think every programming book should contain a chapter like this.

        In general, the content is there, but the organization is terrible. After reading this book, I started to create my own scripts, and every time I needed some information it wasn't easy to find. The lack of real examples makes this harder, because with this approach of using only basic AppleScript, a novice scripter has trouble using idiomatic constructions. Due to the unusual syntax, there are some ways to do commom tasks in AppleScript, and the book fails at showing them.

        Better examples, with sections explaining the theory between them, could be mixed up to build an improved book.

        (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


        I'm just stupid, i guess

        By salvadorepix

        from Santa Barbara, CA

        Comments about oreilly AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition:

        Everything I try using this book still leaves me unable to connect with files that I have in a list. I have been hacking away at this for weeks. trying every combination of syntax: file references, POSIX paths etc, etc, from every nook and corner of the book. Always bad file name or non existent file bad value, error, error, error, etc. , when I show the variable it sits in to be exactly right, on the line just above where I am trying to use it. . CAn it be so strange - what I am doing - to automate making make a bunch of web pages in a single folder, that such a basic thing and obvious trip-ups to doing it would not be covered somewhere in such a big book?

        (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


        Truth in Advertising

        By Thomas Beek

        from Undisclosed

        Comments about oreilly AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition:

        The author dispels the "ease of use" myth in the preface, and proceeds to teach a scholarly course on AppleScript.

        (7 of 8 customers found this review helpful)


        Excellent reference manual for a niche language

        By Allen Stenger

        from Undisclosed

        Comments about oreilly AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition:

        This is an exhaustive reference manual for AppleScript, a scripting language included with all Macintoshes. It is not a tutorial, but if you have some programming experience of any kind you will be able to use this manual to construct AppleScripts. The book was published in January 2006 and is up-to-date through Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4). It includes a little coverage of Automator. There is some description of other helpful tools such as Script Debugger, a third-party replacement for Apple's Script Editor that provides a lot of additional capability.

        I did some work in AppleScript about ten years ago to automate a nightly build process. AppleScript was the right tool for the job, but getting it to work was a lot of aggravation and I didn't look at AppleScript again. Recently I was asked to prepare some AppleScript demos for my local computer user group, and I got this book as a reference. AppleScript is still as aggravating as ever, but I was able to answer all my questions and complete the demos by using this book and its wonderful index.

        AppleScript has evolved a lot in the past ten years, in particular by adding a number of object-oriented ideas and by increasing its interoperability with other programming systems (for example, Python, JavaScript, Perl, Ruby, Carbon and Cocoa based applications). Neuburg does a good job of explaining all these features, and he is particularly good on strategy issues. AppleScript can be used by itself but hardly ever is; you should always be thinking of combining it with existing applications and systems to solve your problem.

        The major challenge in AppleScript was and remains figuring out the data types and operations supported by a particular application. Neuburg is honest about this, and recommends extensive experimentation and test scripts to figure out how the applications work.

        Is AppleScript worth knowing? Neuburg doesn't really make a strong case for this, although his Chapter 1 is a good try. He works through an impressive example in Appendix A, including all the roadblocks and wrong turns. But the example is to clean up a book manuscript prepared in FrameMaker to meet the publisher's standards before turning it in. I think this is a good job for AppleScript, but how many people would need to do this job? I think AppleScript is still a niche language, but if you work in that niche this is an excellent reference.

        (10 of 10 customers found this review helpful)


        Excellent book on a Difficult topic

        By Goodbye Helicopter

        from Undisclosed

        Comments about oreilly AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition:

        I got this book after a fellow Rubyist recommended it for learning enough AppleScript to mix it with Ruby for OS X development.

        As always, it's a good idea to have more than one book or reference, but this one covers most of it.

        The beginning is long and slow going, but really makes a HUGE difference in understanding what's going on with AppleScript later.

        If you have ever even toyed with cocoa, xcode and interface builder, you'll already understand what's happening with script bundles and such.

        You'll benefit greatly from this book if you're already a Ruby or Perl user.

        Let's just say that AppleScript on its own is pretty rough stuff. Combined with another scripting language like Ruby, Perl or Python (all of which are bundled with OS X) you can use AppleScript for what you have to or need to and still use friendlier languages to make things happen.

        If only Ruby or Perl or Python could do these things on their own with out any AppleScript...

        I digress, Mr. Neuberg does a pretty outstanding job here and writes in a style that is readable and intelligible.

        When he tells you to stop and go read Appendix A, the sort of day-in-the-life-cycle of AppleScript development, READ IT.

        It is without doubt, the single most important part of the book. It really gives you a solid, realistic set of expectations of life in the land of applescript.

        It is pretty much a hack-it-as-you-go language.

        Rubyists, Pythonistas, and Perl People will be on good footing here.

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