Improving AppleScript Startup Time with Compilation


Applescript is useful but interpreted scripts are fairly slow to start.

Consider a script that only has the number 1 in it.

$ echo "1" > example.scpt

When run with osascript example.scpt, this will output 1.

A timed run of the script shows it takes roughly 430 milliseconds on my machine.

$ time osascript example.scpt

real    0m0.429s
user    0m0.053s
sys     0m0.053s

We can't have a much simpler script than this, so it looks like the price of using interpreted Applescript is a minimum of ~430ms. If you have a script that runs frequently, this might be too slow.

You might not be aware that you can compile AppleScript. Not surprisingly, this compilation improves the startup time.

$ osacompile -x -o compiled-example example.scpt
$ time osascript compiled-example

real    0m0.252s
user    0m0.034s
sys     0m0.036s

We're down from over 400ms to 250ms. That's still not ideal to run in a tight loop, but the savings might be compelling depending on your usage.

My goofy face

Hi, I'm Jeffrey Chupp.
I solve problems, often with code.