Of the many Firefox extensions that I use on a daily basis, the one that remains the most useful to me is iMacros, which you can see screenshots of and download here. I reviewed it a while back, and you can also find a visual tour of how to use it here. It makes the process of saving and recording multi-step repetitive tasks about as easy as operating a DVD player. You can keep a library of your recorded macros in a Firefox sidebar, or within your bookmarks. The maker of this extension, iOpus, recently supplied a collection of case studies of ways that users are getting productivity benefits from it, and a look at the examples is eye-opening.
I use iMacros to automate many types of repetitive tasks each day, including using “Smart Bookmarks.” These are macros that I’ve saved within my Firefox Bookmarks list that, with one click, will perform tasks such as opening up a collection of web sites that I visit for news and reviews. I provided an example of creating a Smart Bookmark here.
The iOpus collection of examples of how people are using iMacros includes some applications similar to the ones I’ve created, but also includes many interesting uses that I wouldn’t have thought of. Here are some of them:
Automating data entry. The Office of Enrollment Services at Indiana University Bloomington reports that it has been using iMacros to automate data entry tasks into PeopleSoft, and saved hundreds of hours of data entry time doing so. Any form of data entry you do that is repetitive in nature can be reduced from a multi-step process to a one-step process with iMacros.
Automating online testing. Steve Thue, a Motorola employee, reports that he had a set of manual tests of wireless modems and web pages that took 10 minutes whenever he executed it. He used iMacros to automate the manual process, and reduced the test time to 90 seconds.
Populating spreadsheets and databases with data. A financial services employee reports that he uses iMacros to retrieve price data from stock exchanges on an automated basis. iMacros integrates with Microsoft Excel and popular databases for this kind of task.
Automating online response time monitoring. A person associated with an e-commerce site reports that she uses iMacros to capture response time data for pages on her online store, and compiles the data for tasks such as uptime monitoring.
There are more case studies at the iOpus site, but these examples show that most anything you do online that is repetitive in nature can become faster and easier with iMacros. It’s a free extension, and worth spending some time with. You can find a number of animated online demos of it here.
How do you use iMacros for automating repetitive tasks?