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Summary:

Do you often repeat the same tasks over and over on a Windows machine? You can avoid many of the steps and save time if you save your actions for later replay using WinAutomation. The application is ideal for power users and can even take care […]

WinAutomation logoDo you often repeat the same tasks over and over on a Windows machine? You can avoid many of the steps and save time if you save your actions for later replay using WinAutomation. The application is ideal for power users and can even take care of complex remote tasks.

If you’d like to automate computer activities when you’re not near the desktop you’ll find many options in WinAutomation to help you. It can handle jobs ranging from running command line tasks to managing FTP activities and executing SQL statements.

The hardest part about getting started, for me anyway, was figuring out what to automate. This huge list of predefined actions contains plenty of ideas. I chose a simple task for my first test and converted a graphics and color-intensive email newsletter into a plain one. This took two macros to handle the job: one took out all of the graphics while the other removed all the formatting.

WinAutomation also succeeded in backing up my local drive to an external drive using Synctoy. While Scheduled Tasks, a Windows built-in system accessory, could run the backup, it had stopped working for me. WinAutomation is now running the job on a regular basis without fail.

You can also check out the list of ideas to see what you can do with the software. The easier example macros run applications and open specific folders. I already have a programmable keyboard that can do these things, but not everyone has programmable keyboard buttons. You can make can assign shortcuts or a hotkey to your macros.

Triggers fire macros in different ways. “Schedule triggers” run a macro on a certain date and time; they can also handle recurring tasks. “Event log monitor triggers” run when a certain event happens. The application can go to work to complete whatever activities you need done as soon as a specific process starts or ends. For example, if a job fails, you can set up a macro that will send you an email to let you know.

WinAutomation Main Window

The support pages include macros you can import into WinAutomation, complete with instructions on how they work for easy customization. The export and import feature allows you to share macros with others. When I ran into a problem with one of my macros, I simply exported it to send to tech support, and received a response on how to fix it.

I imported the macro to automate Twitter updates from the web site, tweaked a few things and put WinAutomation to the test. It works well if you want to post a new tweet at the same time daily; all you need to do is update the text file with new tweets. While there are Twitter automation services like Tweetlater, using WinAutomation means just updating a text file rather than having to log into a site each time.

WinAutomation macros can use programming concepts such as variables, flow control, conditionals, loops and exception handling, and so can become quite powerful and complex. Power users and above-average users will benefit most from the software. Beginners and users not familiar with FTP, HTML and that sort of thing might feel a little overwhelmed, and probably wouldn’t have much use for automation software, anyway. Even I had to spend time debugging some macros that didn’t work the way I wanted. However, I found creating macros with WinAutomation took less effort than macros in Microsoft Office.

You can test WinAutomation free for 30 days to see how it works for you. The Standard Edition sells for $129 and the Professional Edition for $199. Volume discounts are available.

How do you handle repeatable computing tasks?

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  1. I’m curious as to hear a comparisons to the open source, mature and free AutoIT and its more familiar companion, AutoHotKey? It’s been a few years since I’ve used AHK, but even back then it was robust and useful.

    For $200, what does WinAutomation provide other than macro recording (although to do that within a Windows OS is no small feat)? Note that as a 20+ year professional programmer (almost a software engineer :-) using AHK’s language is not too steep a learning curve, but for a sys admin, home user, or DBA (Don’t Bother Asking!), the macro recorder may worth more than $200.

    And to answer your question: I’ve learned to type like a banshee :-)

    Lasting Peace and Happiness for ALL!

  2. That’s a good question, why pay for a program when there are free alternatives.

    In this case though, the tools you have mentioned (AutoIT and AutoHotKey) while they are excellent tools in their domain they are not real alternatives to WinAutomation. They are merely elaborated scripting languages and you must be a programmer or at least a extremely advanced and knowledgeable user to use them. Not everyone is a 20+ year professional programmer like yourself :-)

    WinAutomation, to start with, does not require any programming or writing code. It provides a graphical user interface that anyone can use without any programming experience. Instead, you drag and drop actions one after another, and you can build any automated job with a few mouse clicks.

    While WinAutomation includes a Macro Recorder module, it goes far beyond simple mouse and keyboard recording. It has numerous built in actions, a visual designer, different triggers to run jobs automatically, detailed logging, exception handling (actions to be taken when something goes wrong) a job compiler, to turn your jobs into standalone exe files and much more.

    I suggest that you take a look at the website (http://www.winautomation.com) and have a look at the introductory video to get a rough idea about the features of WinAutomation. If you choose to download the trial I am confident that you will soon be able to justify the price (which btw starts at $129).

    Good to hear that you type like a banshee! But, you know, typing can never be fast enough ;-)

  3. Win a Copy of WinAutomation 3.0 Professional Edition, Worth $199 Friday, August 7, 2009

    [...] 7th, 2009 (9:00am) Simon Mackie No Comments Earlier this week, Meryl reviewed WinAutomation, a package that lets you automate many of the routine tasks you do every day on Windows PCs. The [...]

  4. This seem to be a good tool automating tasks.
    But meryl could you please fix the broken link with the anchor text “huge list of predefined actions”.
    Its not working.

    1. That link was working last week when Meryl submitted the post, Virgintech — Winautomation must have broken it.

  5. Win a Copy of WinAutomation 3.0 Professional Edition, Worth $199 [WebWorkerDaily] Friday, August 7, 2009

    [...] this week, Meryl reviewed WinAutomation, a package that lets you automate many of the routine tasks you do every day on Windows PCs. The [...]

  6. Jungchanhsieh Saturday, August 8, 2009

    I would love to have this handy tools professional edition to increase my daily multi Task work.

    Thanks

  7. Virgintech, we tested the link and it was working. You can see the screen shot on this page: http://winautomation.com/features.html. It is still pointing to the same location for the larger file, but it’s not opening. We’ll let Winautomation know.

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