How to Automate Mundane Tasks with AutoIt

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autoit_logoAutoIt allows you to perform a series of actions and saves a snapshot of the actions. It’s called a macro in geek-speak. Then by simply invoking that macro, the same series of actions is taken again, identical to the first time you did it. Yet, this time all you did was click one icon. If Homer J. Simpson’s math holds true, that takes a 42-step process, reduces it to one, thus increasing productivity by 42-fold. Is that worthy of a raise?

Here’s how I used AutoIt to create a macro to run CCleaner on my laptop. Yes, something this simple could be done with Windows Scheduler, yet this is a fun entry point to creating far more complex macro scripts.

Step One: Download and Install AutoIt and AutoIt Script Editor

Just jump over to AutoIt, download the appropriate install file and begin the install. I’d recommend going for the Full Installation. It’s only 8 MB in size, so it downloads fairly quick. While you are there you will need to download the AutoIt Script Editor, as well.

Once the download is complete you can begin the process of installing it. Here’s what that will end up looking like:

install_autoit_step_1

Standard start install screen. Go ahead and click next.

install_autoit_step_2

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Standard EULA. Give props to Jonathan Bennett and the AutoIt Team for this fine software. Click I Agree.

install_autoit_step_3

For now, you want to choose Run the script as the option. If you are already familiar with scripting, go ahead and check Edit the script. Either way, once your choice is made, click Next.

install_step_51

Choose where you want to install the program. C:\Program Files\AutoIt3 is the default location. Works for me! Click Install.

install_step_61

There it goes! Installing away…

install_step_71

It says that the release notes are very important. In my opinion, they are only important if you’ve been using AutoIt for awhile and you are not new to scripting in Windows. Other than that – not that important. Click Finish.

Step 2:  Installing AutoIT Script Editor

Yes, this seems like a lot of work to avoid a little work. Please stay with me on this. I’m going to show you how to do just one thing with AutoIt, but once you get into it, there’s no end to what you can automate with it. Hang in there.

Find the installer on your desktop and double-click on it.

install_scite_1Standard start an install screen. Moving on.

install_scite_2Yep, looks about right. Let’s click Next.

install_scite_3EULA, blah, blah, blah. I mean, read it carefully and cherish the amazing copywriting. Click I Agree, if you agree.

install_scite_4IT’S INSTALLING! IT’S INSTALLING!!!!!!!! Cameraman, are you getting this?

install_scite_5

Click Finish. Take note of the Use Ctrl+F1 to get help on getting started. Annnnnnnnnd, we’re done.

Whew. Let’s get down to making a macro shall we?

Step 3: Macro Making

The trick here is to open the right program in that bunch of stuff that we just downloaded and installed. Click on Windows Start > AutoIt> SciTE> SciTE. Just like in the picture:

start_scite

Now, the appropriate SciTe editor will be open. Just to make your life easier, and believe me that’s what I’m trying to do, you may want to create a shortcut to this on your desktop.

Once the SciTe editor is open, you may want to close other programs and focus on this process. Multiple windows just makes things confusing.

initiate_recorder

Once SciTE is open, click on Tools > AU3Recorder. This will open up AU3Record 3.1.

au3record_step_1

What I’m going to do is run CCleaner. Make sure to check Record Window Text and Record Mouse. Click on Browse and navigate to the ccleaner.exe file.

select_exe_for_autoit

Double-click on it to select it. You’ll see the path shown in the Run(‘ ‘) text field.

click_to_record_2

Now you can Click to Record the tasks you want to automate.

ccleaner

CCleaner will open. That’s good. Now, click on Run Cleaner and wait for it to do it’s job. Then, close CCleaner.

click_to_stop

Go back to the AU3Record window and click on Click to Stop. There! You’ve recorded your macro. Click on File > Save As and save the macro with a good name like quick_clean.au3.

quick_clean_au3

Now when you want to run CCleaner, all you have to do is double click on quick_clean.au3.

Not too bad! Think of this as your “Hello World” program for AutoIt.

By doing this, you’ve just delved into the the world of Window’s Scripting. Keep going. Think of those things that are repetitive that you have to do with your computer and make the macro to suit. I used AutoIt to make an installer for LogMeIn Free that I could send to my field users. All they had to do was double-click the installer and away it went! They didn’t need to know my LogMeIn password or anything else.

You can also create an executable and obfuscate the code so it is harder for people to reverse engineer. You really want to do that if there are passwords involved.

I hope you found this tutorial useful and that you may find a place for AutoIt in your toolbox. It really is a very powerful suite of software and the price is right. Here’s the download link again. AutoIt will only work on Windows.

How do you take care of complex repetitive tasks? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments (11)
  • nikhil

    Hi,

    Can we use this to for task like find links of specific products?
    for example i wish to find links of below products on amazon and paste it on excel besides product name
    1. xbox 360
    2.xbox one
    3.ps4
    4.ps3

    Can auto it handle this?

  • Guy

    I’m not sure. Perhaps you can create a loop with a counter in it?

  • Anil

    How can you make it repetitive? For example, I want to automate CTRL+TAB action in a program, to run every 2 seconds.

  • erik

    AHK is my choice. It is pure genius. Automizing my daily jumping between 4-5 programs in Windows. An extreme shortcut compared to developing something in VBA.

  • ajbritton

    I cannot speak for AHK, but AutoIt is one of the finest utilities out there. I’ve used it to create all kinds of small administration utilities which I use in a medium sized network. Simple GUIs are easy to create with a bit of practice and it’s even possible to create little apps that live in the system tray. I love it.

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.