Automator tricks: what’s in a workflow?

When we save a workflow, a file with a .workflow extension gets generated.

The good news is that we can look into the “file”, and get someu nderstanding of what is going on. First of all: like Mac apps, it’s not a file… it’s a directory! We can open it right clicking on it, and selecting “show content” (exactly like we can do with apps). Here is what we get:

  • a Contents directory, that contains
    • a document.wflow file
    • a Quicklook directory that contains
      • a Thumbnail.png file (a pictorial representation of the workflow)

The document.wflow is actually an XML file, that can be read (and written!) with any text editor (or better, XML editor).

Here they are:

Of course this is only a fragment of the XML file.

About the meaning of the XML file content: the DTD definition is available at, but it’s just the DTD of a property list.  The semantics is not obvious although by reading the file is not that difficult to make some sense at least of portions of it. I’ve not found further documentation (yet…)

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