How To: Schedule Applications to open at Specific times [MAC OS X]

Today I was wanting to automate the opening of a specific application on my computer at a set time on my old Mac Mini Media Server.  I searched Google and I couldn’t find an easy way to do it.  The answer is a lot easier than you may think and may come from an unexpected source.  iCal or on mountain Lion Calendars.  Here are the simple steps.

1) Open up iCal or Calendars.
2) Create and name a new event i.e. (Open Plex Media Center)
3) Set time for the event i.e. (5:30 p.m.)
4) Set Alert to “open file”
5) below your alert it should say “iCal” click on the up and down arrow and choose “other”
6) select the application you would like to open (Plex Media Center)
7) set the alert time to “0” minutes before so it opens exactly at the time you have chosen.
8) Click done.

That should do it.  I found on OS 10.6.8 the automation did not work if iCal was closed.  If this is the case set iCal to open on startup by going to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items and adding iCal to the list of startup apps.  That way when the computer starts iCal will be open and the events you set to happen will work.


Today I thought of an interesting use for this. I often control various off-site computers via Teamviewer. Typically this is more than enough to do whatever needs to be done. However, I have had plenty of times when Teamviewer glitched or my Plex Media Server shutdown and I was no longer able to do what I needed to do until I got home from my trip or my media server shutdown and turned on according to it’s set schedule.

what I realized is as long as I have my computer and both computers are linked through iCloud there is still hope! I can now open Calendars on my laptop, setup an event to open Teamviewer or Plex Media Server at a specific time, it will sync through iCloud and in a few minutes my Plex or Teamviewer will re-open and I will get the access I need. It is important to note however results may vary depending on your Teamviewer setup, such as whether you have setup auto-login or not. But still, it’s cool that this is an option!


If you want to go overkill, as I’m prone to do, you can also set the application you scheduled to open to close at a specific time.  I won’t go into to to much detail on this.  Basically you can create a simple application in Automator that runs a simple Applescript telling the application you want closed to close.

tell application “Safari”
end tell&lt

Save the “application” to your spot of choosing and then set a date and time you would like your app to close out at (following the steps above). At that time your automator app will load up, close out the specified app and then close itself. Not totally necessary but still fun.

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Bryce Cooley
I've been doing some form of ministry since 2000. For 13 years I was involved in the youth ministry at Cordova Neighborhood Church as everything from youth intern to youth pastor. God has led me and my lovely wife Bethany to Church of the Foothills where I currently reside as the Digital Publishing Coordinator. I'm excited to see where God leads my wife and I.