There are times when you need to do something over and over again on the computer which is very time consuming and tedious. One simple example is the need to transfer a lot of data from an Excel spreadsheet into a database management system (DMBS) and it cannot import the data from the XLS file. Instead of hiring a team of people to do the data input or a programmer to write a custom importer, you can actually rely on a piece of “Macro” software to automatically do it for you.
Macro software can be used to create a series of actions to help in automating tasks. It can be as simple as clicking a button to record your keyboard and mouse actions but it can also be very advanced where you get to write your own sophisticated macro script for play back. You can find both free and paid macro software, the free macro software is easier to use with less features while the paid versions support more commands and activations.
Here we have a list of our top 10 free macro software which can make your computer perform repetitive tasks.
10. Macro Dollar
Macro Dollar is an old and simple automation software that was originally created around 10 years ago for “paid to surf” programs to click on advertisement bars installed on computers. Since it can record both mouse actions and keyboard input for play back, we consider it to be a Macro software. Probably the most unique yet least used feature found in Macro Dollar is the “Shake” option where your mouse cursor shakes when a recording is being played.
The terms used in Macro Dollar are slightly different compared to the rest because this program is created by a Frenchman. For example, the Journal is normally called Macro and the Scenario is actually the Scheduler.
WinMacro is nearly as old as Macro Dollar and still worked perfectly when we briefly tested it using Windows 7. Only 3 steps are required to record; browse the location to save the recording file, click the record button and press the hardcoded hotkey Pause/Break to stop the recording. Whenever you want to play back the recording, simply browse the .log file and click the Playback button. The playback can be cancelled with the hotkey Ctrl+Esc. The Options button allows you to set the number of repetitions and playback speed.
GhostMouse is a no-brainer program that is incredibly simple with only 2 buttons (Play & Record) on the main graphical user interface. It is more suitable for quick and short term use but certainly not for automating repetitive task because there is no repeat or loop functionality. One unique feature to be found in GhostMouse is the ability to perform a list of actions such as turning off the computer on playback complete.
7. Do It Again
Do It Again is not much different if compared to the other 3 tools listed above but one advantage it has is the list of macro recordings displayed in the program, making it convenient for users who need to run different tasks without manually loading the scripts to the program.
For advanced users, another advantage found in Do It Again is the recordings that are saved as .DIA extension stored in the program’s folder are in clear text format which means you can actually edit the actions.
6. Mini Mouse Macro
Mini Mouse Macro is an open source macro software hosted at SourceForge. Other than the ability to record mouse & keyboard actions, looping/repeating playback, it also comes with a simple editor to add/remove/edit the captured actions.
There is a mouse checkbox and once it is ticked, Mini Mouse Macro will include the mouse movement of the X and Y position in the recordings. Defining a loop count is a bit tricky because you’ll need to click on the “Loop” word where a dialog box will be displayed and you can enter the value for the loop count. Command line is also supported and can be easily created from the Script Builder found in File menubar.
5. Macro Toolworks Free
Macro Toolsworks comes in 3 editions which are free, standard and professional. It is actually a very powerful macro automation software that supports over a hundred macro commands such as variables, finding an image on screen, sending emails, FTP, manipulating windows, etc. However, only basic macro commands such as sending keystrokes and mouse events are enabled in the free version which makes it a pretty basic macro software with an advanced interface.
4. Mouse Recorder Pro
Mouse Recorder Pro is created by a talented young man named Shay from Israel. A quick glance at the software’s interface would make you think that this is yet another simple record and playback macro software but it has much more to offer.
Mouse Recorder Pro can be really easy to use, thanks to the 5 big buttons where you can record, play, save and load recordings. Optionally, the built-in macro editor allows you to add or remove events to fine tune the accuracy of the actions. The last update which was released 3 years ago added user plugin support where you can code your own plugins using C# or Visual Basic .Net to manipulate your recording and playing script.
You can find our remaining top 3 together with a feature comparison table and summary listed on the second page.
3. Perfect Automation
Perfect Automation is a very powerful macro software that comes with a script editor, launcher, scheduler and of course, keyboard and mouse recorder suitable for both beginners and advanced users. The macro recording makes it really easy to automatically record an automation while programmers can create their own commands through the Gentee progamming language.
An advantage in Perfect Automation is the ability to record the mouse events in relative coordinates instead of absolute which means your macro can still work on the active window even if it has been moved to a different position on the screen. In the script editor you can find over a hundred pre-made scripts to automate operations.
TinyTask is well known for being the smallest macro software at an amazing 33KB in size. With that kind of file size, you would expect a really simple application with probably only two functions such as record and playback but there is more than that.
TinyTask’s graphical user interface measures only 137 x 48 pixels which can be a little small for high resolution monitors and it has six buttons to open and save recordings, record and play, compile the macro to an independent executable file, options to change the playback speed, repeat playback and changing hotkeys. TinyTask would be most suited for basic computer users who don’t want to mess around with a macro editor.
1. Pulover’s Macro Creator
Our first choice for free macro software is Pulover’s Macro Creator which is based on the AutoHotkey language. It is easy to use and yet has all the features that we’re looking for such as compiling to EXE, repeat/loop playback, macro editing, hotkeys to start/stop recording/playback, customizing hotkeys, scheduler, speeding up playback and most importantly, very low memory usage. During testing, the compiled executable macro merely used up 1.2MB of memory when it is running and does not increase while it is being played repeatedly.
The installer, portable build and even the source code is available to download from the official website.
Note: AutoIt and AutoHotkey are excluded from this list because both have become powerful scripting languages for Windows which can be a bit difficult for beginners. Although AutoIt and the older version of AutoHotkey v1.0 do come with a very basic macro recorder (Au3Record for AutoIt found in Extras folder and AutoScriptWriter in AutoHotkey v1.0), you may be better off with TinyTask to do the job, or Pulover’s Macro Creator if you need the extra macro editing capabilities.
The free iMacros addon available for Chrome and Firefox browser are added to the comparison table below but is also not included under our top 10 list because they are only used for browser automation and do not work on other desktop applications.
The tables below are a summary of the features from the 10 macro software listed above. The ability to compile a macro recording into an independent executable file is very useful to run the automation on a computer without installing the macro software. Repeat and loop is quite similar with the difference you get to define the exact amount of times for the macro to run in repeat while loop will just continue to run until you manually stop the playback. Schedule playback is for the macro to automatically run on a specific time. Speeding up playback can be useful under some circumstances but not all the time because sometimes you’ll need the extra delay for certain actions to complete. Finally the memory usage is measured when a macro is running.
We felt that hotkeys in macro software are very important to conveniently start and stop macro recording/playback so that the initial mouse movement recordings can be reduced. Other than that, when a macro is being played at an infinite loop, a hotkey to manually stop the macro playback when you’ve set it to run an infinite loop is also very important or else it can be quite difficult to terminate the process since there might be an action running at every second.
- If you want a quick, simple and easy to use macro, we recommend TinyTask. It is more suitable for recording short and repetitive tasks or else you might end up re-recording multiple times just to get it right because unnecessary recorded actions might interfere with the playback. This is the drawback of not being able to edit the recorded macro.
- Most of the free macro software is only capable of recording keyboard and mouse actions. Perfect Automation is the only free macro software that comes with over a hundred scripts to support commands for working with network, FTP, registry, files, folders, forms, messages, Internet, clipboard and etc.
- Pulover’s Macro Creator, our first choice of macro software has the right balance. It is easy enough for a beginner to use while it offers complex actions for managing windows, controls, files, strings, search images/pixels on screen and even create If/Else Statements for advanced users to control the flow of macros. Other than that, the compiled recording takes up very little memory usage during playback.