Macro Recorder beta - Documentation

This is work in progress during the beta test - Specification may change.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Macro Recorder for Windows and Mac records your mouse and keyboard actions for infinite playback.

  • Automate repetitive tasks on your computer.
  • Hand out recorded procedures to other users.
  • Create streamlined presentations and screencasts.
  • Auto-fill complex forms.
  • Automate system maintenance tasks.
  • Auto-login to online accounts.
  • Auto-click websites or programs.
  • Software test automation.

Main features

  • Recording of mouse movements, mouse clicks and scroll-wheel actions.
  • Recording of keystrokes and text input.
  • Detection of program window changes, window names, window positions and -size.
  • Accurate timing including wait states.
  • Built-in macro step editor.
  • Variable playback speed.

Special benefits

Macro Recorder offers a unique set of features:

  • Macro Recorder can replace shaky mouse movements with swiftly curved mouse movements.
  • Mouse coordinates and colors can be captured without affecting the recorded application.
  • Auto-adjustment of window sizes & positions.
  • Optional smoothing of recorded mouse paths
  • Mouse path visualization overlay
  • Macro Recorder recordings can be exported to our popular productivity solution PhraseExpress Enterprise Edition to get additional features:
  • Organize macro recordings in a customer folder structure.
  • Trigger macros by hotkey or text shortcuts.
  • Select & launch macros from a handy popup menu.
  • Schedule automatisations with Windows Task Scheduler.
  • Combine Macro Recorder macros with powerful Macro Recorder macro functions.

The Macro Recorder export is only available for PhraseExpress for Windows v14 at this time.

Installation

Macro Recorder is available for Microsoft Windows 7/8/10 and Apple macOS.

Windows installation

To install Macro Recorder on a Windows computer:

  1. Download the installation file "MouseRecorderSetup.exe".
  2. Double-click the installation file and follow the on-screen instructions.
  3. Double-click the program file to launch Macro Recorder.
  4. If you purchased a license, register your license key.

MacOS installation

To install Macro Recorder on a Mac:

  1. Download the Mac installation file.
  2. Double-click the setup program to open the installer.
  3. Drag the Macro Recorder application icon from left to right into the application folder.
  4. If you purchased a license, register your license key.

Macro Recorder must be authorized in Apple macOS accessibility settings:

In Mac macOS 10.10 ("Yosemite") and macOS 10.11 ("Sierra"), this setting is available in "System Preferences » Security & Privacy » Privacy".

In Mac macOS 10.9 ("Mavericks"), this setting is available in "System Preferences » Security » Privacy » Accessibility".

Click the pad lock to unlock the settings and check-mark Macro Recorder in the list of applications.

MacOS may require to uncheck and check this setting again for each Macro Recorder software update.

First steps

Let's record your first macro:

  1. Launch Macro Recorder.
  2. Press the "Record" button in the main program window.
  3. Move around the mouse, click anywhere or enter any text into any application.
  4. Press the Stop button to stop recording.
  5. Press the "Play" button to repeat the recorded actions.

Voilà! Macro Recorder recorded your actions and you can now playback them infinitely.

But there is so much more. Keep reading to get the most out or Macro Recorder…

Main program window

The Macro Recorder program has a main menu with different tabs "Record and Play", "Edit Macro" and "Help":

main program window

The main area shows the chronological list of actions captured by Macro Recorder.

On playback, Macro Recorder works through this list from top to bottom.

Tray icon

The Macro Recorder tray icon (or "menu bar" icon on a Mac) indicates program states (active recording/playback) and can be used to control Macro Recorder without the main program:

 

  • Left-click the icon to restore the main program window (if minimized). Clicking the icon also stops an active recording/playback.
  • Right-click the icon to open the options menu.

Windows only: If the icon is not visible, make sure, that Macro Recorder is actually launched, then click the triangle icon in the task tray and drag the Macro Recorder icon from the popup into the system tray to make it permanently visible:

Windows tray icon

Creating macros

You can create macros in two different ways:

There is no golden rule – The step-by-step approach can be more accurate. In other occasions, it may be more time-efficient to begin with a recording which you then tweak in the macro editor.

Record buttonRecording a macro

To start recording a macro:
  • Press Record in the main menu of the program window.
  • Or, right-click the Macro Recorder tray icon and select "Record".
  • Alternatively press the record hotkey you may have configured in the settings.

The Macro Recorder indicates an active recording by a blinking tray icon and starts capturing:

To stop a recording:
  • Press Record in the main menu of the program window.
  • Or, right-click the Macro Recorder tray icon and select "Record".
  • Alternatively press the record hotkey you may have configured in the settings.

To continue a recording, click "Append Recording" in the sub menu underneath the Record button.

You can also alternatively iniitiate a recording from the productivity solution PhraseExpress (Windows only):

  1. Create a new phrase in PhraseExpress.
  2. In the PhraseExpress main menu, select Macro Recorder.
  3. Record the procedure in Macro Recorder.
  4. Click "Stop" in Macro Recorder and and select "Send to PhraseExpress" in the main menu of Macro Recorder.
  5. Give the macro a meaningful name.
  6. Organize the macro in PhraseExpress and assign a hotkey or text short in PhraseExpress to trigger the macro.

Recording tips:

  • Don't worry about making mistakes during the recording - You can edit or remove unwanted actions later.
  • Stay calm and take your time - You can adjust playback speed and pauses later.
  • No perfection required - Macro Recorder can smooth mouse paths in post-production.
  • Consider to configure hotkeys in Macro Recorder, allowing you to use Macro Recorder without its main program window and to eliminate the risk, that the Macro Recorder program window may get in the way during the recording.
  • Watch out for dynamic changes in the application you control during the recording. An icon on the taskbar may shift aside if another program is launched. A tray icon may not be available if the corresponding program is not yet launched. If you record a browser, alternating online ads of different sizes may rearrange web contents, for example.
  • Prefer controlling programs by key presses over mouse clicks to work around unforeseeable changes in the user interface. Key presses and hotkeys are independent from screen resolutions, locations, user interface controls and window contents of varying size.
  • The time required to launch programs or to compute tasks can drastically vary between computers. A laptop may run faster if connected to a power line vs. running on battery power. A backup background task may slow down the entire computer, changing its overall performance. Give programs enough time to complete tasks under all conditions. We strongly recommend to use pixel color detection, that pauses a macro until the automated program finished its task. Unlike static wait times, the pixel color detection waits for visual indication, when a computation is completed.
  • If you share a macro with other users, keep in mind that the automated program may look different on different computers or operating systems.

Macro Recorder can only recognize mouse and keyboard events from applications running with the same user credentials. If Macro Recorder was launched with normal user rights, it won't recognize user input made into applications running with admin rights (e.g. the task manager). In order to catch those events, launch Macro Recorder with admin rights, too.

On a Mac, Macro Recorder cannot control user interface controls, secured by macOS "Secure Input" system.

 

Playback recording

Play buttonPress the Play button to playback the recording. Alternatively, press the hotkey you may have configured for this action.

To stop playback, press "Stop" or ESC (the top left escape key on your keyboard). You can additionally configure a custom stop hotkey in the settings.

Macro Recorder restores window positions/sizes to their size during the recording, allowing the window to receive all recorded mouse clicks.

To play a specific part of the entire macro:
  1. Highlight the action from where you want to playback
  2. Click the arrow underneath the Play button in the main menu and select the desired option .Alternatively, right-click the action and select the playback option from the popup menu.

Playback properties

Tab "Record and Play" of the main menu allows you to configure the playback speed, the mouse path shape and number of repetitions.

Playback speed

The default playback mode tries to replicate the speed of the recorded performance.

Following settings affect playback speed:

  • Playback speed settings.
  • Filtered actions.
  • General computer processing power.
  • CPU load during playback.

If playback speed is set too fast, the macro playback may to get out of sync with the automated applications response. For example, a web browser requires some time to load a web page. Considerto use the pixel color detection to keep playback in sync with the speed of the automated applications.

Mouse path

When you record a procedure, you may find yourself moving the mouse around while trying to find what you want to click.

Macro Recorder can eliminate mouse movements, that are not required to perform the desired automation task, e.g. mouse movements while searching for a particular items on the monitor or dead-end movements, that happen when you realize that objects on the desktop aren't at a location you thought.

Macro Recorder can filter any such unwanted movements, resulting in a clean and unobtrusive mouse path straight between the start and end point, making it a great companion for screen recording software, such as the popular "Camtasia".

Mouse path as recorded:

Macro Recorder repeats the mouse path and timing as recorded. The accuracy of the mouse movements is determined by the recording settings.

Linear mouse paths:

Recorded mouse paths are replaced with linear movements between mouse events (move or click actions). You can edit the duration of each mouse movement.

Curved (spline) mouse paths:

Recorded mouse paths are replaced with smooth curved movements between mouse events (move or click actions).

This option is ideal to streamline mouse movements for video tutorial screencasts.

Tips
  • To playback mouse clicks only, you can filter mouse movements from playback.
  • Recordings may require playback of mouse movements "as recorded" to simulate hover effects, e.g. if an option that you want to click as the next action becomes available only after you hovered over a certain user interface element.
  • You can edit the duration of each mouse movement.

Loop playback

To loop the entire macro, enter the desired number of repetitions.

The freeware is limited to max 10 repetitions. Please consider supporting our hard work.

Playback filter

Specific action types can be excluded from playback in tab "Edit" of the main menu.

For example, playback speed can be significantly increased by filtering out mouse movements.

The filter configuration is saved in the Macro Recorder file or if the macro is transferred to Macro Recorder.

Filtered action types are not deleted from the macro but only temporarily excluded from the playback.

An automation may require mouse movements, e.g. to trigger hover effects, e.g. user interface elements, that eventually change visibility/behavior only if you hover specific areas with the mouse.

Wait actions are used to give the automated computer time to perform a task. If you filter wait actions, carefully check, if your automation doesn't get out of sync. Consider using pixel color detection to adapt playback speed to the automation.

Editing macros

Macro Recorder recordings consist of individual action steps in chronological order, that can be edited in the main program window.

Insert a action

To insert an action:
  1. In the list of actions, highlight an existing action (if any) under which you want to insert a new action.
    • Click the icon of the desired action in the "Add action" section in the main menu (tab "Edit Macro").
    • Right-click in the action list and select the desired action from the context menu. This menu also provides to additional actions, such as Hotkey, Goto, Focus and Repeat, which are not available in the main menu.
    • Press the hotkey associated to an action, e.g. the w key for a wait action or the c key for a mouse click.
  2. Configure the action parameters.

The column "label" allows you to enter a short jump marker, that can be addressed by the goto, repeat, loop or pixel color detection action.

It is well worth to memorize the hotkeys associated to actions to blazingly ultra-fast add actions step-by-step. This is probably the best Pro tip we can make.

Hotkeys

Following hotkeys can be used in the main program to quickly add an actions:

C Click
R Right-Click
M Mouse move
S Mous wheel
T Text input
H Hotkey press
P Pixel color detection
G Goto
W Wait

Editing actions

Edit macroTo edit an action, double-click the action in the list, or highlight the item and press ENTER or click the "pencil" icon in the main menu.

If you click any mouse action, the actual mouse path or click position is shown as an overlay on your desktop until you move to the next item or if you hover away from the selected action.

If you click a pixel color detection item, Macro Recorder shows the position of the pixel that is monitored for a color change.

Multiple actions can be edited/moved simultaneously by selecting them withthe mouse or by using a combination of CTRL and/or SHIFT modifier keys.

Drag & Drop or copy & paste actions in the list to arrange their order.

Delete an action

deleteTo delete one or more actions from the actions list, highlight the items with mouse and press DEL on your keyboard or the delete button the toolbar menu.

The delete confirmation dialog can be configured in the program settings.

Actions

If you edit or add a macro action, Macro Recorder opens an action edit window.

You can manually enter/adjust the parameters in the dialog or use the mouse to "point & click" on your desktop to define X/Y coordinates and additional parameters.

Action can have a text label for a comment or as a jump mark for the Goto or Repeat action and for time-outs.

To enter, edit or delete a label, click into the column "label".

The labels "Start", "End" and "Next" are reserved by Macro Recorder.

If you change a label, that is used as a jump mark, make sure to update all actions, that jumps to the corresponding action.

Mouse click

ClickClicks or double-clicks at the specified position with the left/middle/right/X1/X2 mouse button as defined.

To define the click position, enter the X/Y coordinates or simply click at the desired position.

If you don't want to affect the underlying application with a mouse click, press the capture hotkey (default is the space bar) to capture the mouse position.

"X1" / "X2" are extra mouse buttons of advanced 5 button mouse devices.

Mouse movement

Moves the mouse pointer from the start to the end position. Enter the start/end coordinates or define them by clicking the start point followed by the end point.

The mouse path shape can be configured in the playback properties.

If you don't want to affect the underlying application with mouse clicks, press the capture hotkey (default is the space bar) to capture the start and end position.

 

Mouse scroll-wheel turn

Mouse wheelSimulates turning the mouse scroll-wheel in "virtual" pixels. Playback may be affected/translated/changed by the mouse drivers. We recommend to record the wheel action to get predictable results. Keep in mind that mouse driver settings may differ between computers.

Key press

Key pressSimulates a single key press. Macro Recorder sends the virtual key code, scan code and extended key flag to the operating system. You can specify a separate key-down and key-up event to allow adding automation in between.

To simulate pressing a You may want to replace longer key press sequences of recorded text input with the Text input action as described below.

Hotkey

Simulates pressing a hotkey combination (such as CTRL+ALT+ D). This action is not available in the main ribbung but only accessible by right-clicking in the main program window action area.

After defining the hotkey combination, Macro Recorder compiles the shortcut into individual key down and up events.

You may want to replace longer key press sequences of recorded text input with the Text input action as described below.

 

Text input

Text inputThis action item combines multiple key press events to a text input event for easier macro editing.

To automate entering long phrases we strongly recommend using the Text Expander PhraseExpress instead.

Wait time

WaitPauses macro playback for the specified time in milliseconds (msec) to allow the computer to complete operations.

The time required to load a web page or to perform a computation may vary significantly, depending on the current CPU load and other factors, such as power saving schemes and other tasks running in the background. The wait time must be long enough to support the slowest computer under worst conditions.

Consider using the pixel color detection as it significantly minimizes proceeds with the automation in the very moment, the computer completed the current task instead of waiting a fixed time.

1 second = 1,000 msec. 1 minute = 60,000 msec.1 hour = 3.600.000 msec.

Pixel color detection

Pixel detectionPauses macro playback until a specified display pixel changes to the specified color.

Macro Recorder often needs to pause until a process is finished, a calculation is done or a website is loaded before the macro script can proceed. However, there is no direct communication of the controlled applications which could tell Macro Recorder to continue.

However, there is a trick: As most operations on your computer cause program windows, buttons, labels or images to appear, to disappear or to change, this visual clue can be used as a trigger for Macro Recorder. Any such change on the monitor cause pixels to change to a specific color. Colors may change depending on the actual image or state of a button (which reflects the state of a program).

Example: If you want Macro Recorder to automate your browser, it has to wait until a web page has loaded. A good indicator would be the web page icon ("favicon") in the to left of the browser title bar.

The "pixel color detection" action monitors the color change of a specific pixel. If the pixel changes to the defined color, the macro continues with the action, specified by the label (default is the next step).

A customizable timeout cancels or restart the recording or jump to a another section of the recording, specified by a label.

This function maximizes the automation speed while assuring that even the slowest computers is able to keep up with the macro.

If you don't want to affect the underlying application with a mouse click, press the capture hotkey (default is the space bar) to capture the color and pixel position.

Recommended procedure:

  1. Record your performance.
  2. Browse the macro list for wait events.
  3. Check which pixel consistently changes color before/after the wait event.
  4. Replace the wait time with a corresponding pixel color detection.
  5. Optionally add extra wait times after pixel color detection items if the macro executes too fast for the 3rd party application.

The time-out section provides fallback options if the monitored color does not appear within the configured wait time. The macro execution can either abort, repeat from scratch or ignore the no-show of the color and just continue.

Window change

Window change Waits for the appearance of a window, defined by its window title and class. You can leave either entry empty or use * as a placeholder in the window title/class text string.

This macro function restores the windows dimensions and position if differing from the dimensions at the time of the macro recording to ensure that all recorded mouse actions fit. Macro playback will cancel if the window cannot be restored to the required size.

Macro actions following a window change are visually grouped by a customizable background color for better readability.

The time-out section provides fallback options if the window does not appear within the configured wait time. The macro execution can either abort, repeat from scratch or ignore the no-show of the color and just continue.

Goto

Jumps straight to the action with the specified label.

Repeat

Jumps to the specified label for the given number of repetitions, amount of time.

After the last repetition it jumps to the action with the specified label.

Saving and loading macros

Macro fileMacros can be saved as macro files for later use:

Load a macro file

File openUse "File/Open" to load a recorded macro into Macro Recorder. Macro Recorder macro files have the file extension ".mrf" (abbreviation for "Macro Recorder File").

Alternatively, double-click a saved macro file to open it in Macro Recorder.

Save a recorded macro

Save AsTo save a recording to your computer, use "File/Save As".

Macro Recorder files automatically get the file extension ".mrf" (abbreviation for "Mouse Recorder File").

Macro files contain the entire recorded sequence regardless of any current filter setting. This means, that the macro file may contain more automation information than currently being displayed.

Export to PhraseExpress

The real power of Macro Recorder comes with its integration with the popular productivity solution PhraseExpress:

  • Organize macros in a customizable tree hierarchy.
  • Trigger macros by hotkeys or autotext.
  • Link, nest, combine macros.
  • Add PhraseExpress specific macro functions (such as conditional statements, string operations, math calculations, etc) to your macros.
  • Share macros in the network with a professional client-/server architecture.
  • Schedule automations via PhraseExpress with the Windows task scheduler.

Send to PhraseExpressTo export a recorded macro, select "File » Transfer to PhraseExpress" or press the icon in the main menu.

Macro Recorder prompts you to enter a name for the macro and trigger PhraseExpress to create a new phrase.

This new phrase consists of a single macro function {#MACRORECORDER name} that represents the recording. The recording data is embedded in the phrase file/database and is invisible in PhraseExpress. This new phrase can be used in PhraseExpress like any other phrase. You can add other PhraseExpress macro functions before or after the {#MACRORECORDER …} macro function or use multiple Macro Recorder macro functions within the same phrase.

Macro Recorder exports the actions including filter and playback settings. Double-click the macro function in PhraseExpress to edit the macro in Macro Recorder.

PhraseExpress launches Macro Recorder in the background if a phrase contains a Macro Recorder automation.

Program settings

SettingsClick "File » Settings" to open the program settings.

Recording settings

Save mouse paths

Macro Recorder records mouse clicks including the mouse path in between those clicks. If you don't need the movements for your automation tasks, you can disable tracking the actual path to minimize the macro file size.

Automations may depend on mouse hover events in your 3rd party application. If the automation does only playback clicks without the mouse movements, mouse hover events may not be triggered, such as menus that appear if you hover with the mouse over icons, etc.

Unless, you have a strong need to minimize the macro recording file, we recommend not to disable mouse path recording as you can filter mouse paths on demand.

Minimum mouse delta

Macro Recorder samples X/Y coordinates of a mouse movement if the mouse is moved for a minimum required distance as defined by parameter "Minimum mouse delta".

Decrease this value increases precision of the mouse movements. As even tiny mouse movements are sampled, resulting in a larger macro file size.

Fine mouse pathLow mouse delta value increases accuracy of the mouse recording.

Edgy mouse pathHigher mouse delta parameter values reduce the number of coordinates recorded to recreate the mouse movement.

Mouse sensitivity

"Mouse sensitivity" determines the time rate of sampling the current mouse position. The higher the sample-rate, the higher the accuracy of the mouse recording.

Lower this value only, if recording the mouse requires too much CPU power on your computer.

Keyboard recording settings

A computer recognizes key presses as a sequence of distinctive key-press and key-release actions. The operating system translates these distinctive actions into characters, depending on the currently selected keyboard layout (see Wikipedia for details).

If option "Save keys as characters if possible" is enabled, Macro Recorder translates multiple key up and down event as individual characters, based on the current keyboard layout , making the recording independent from the keyboard layout setting (if played back on a computer with a different keyboard layout).

Option "Save characters as text" combine multiple characters into a chunk of text which is output as fast as possible on playback.

Option "Ignore multiple modifier key down events" eliminates multiple presses and releases of the SHIFT, CTRL, ALT, CMD, WIN key while pressing another key.

Miscellaneous

Parameter "Minimum wait time" defines the minimum time threshold, before to a new action item is added during a recording.

Example: If you move the mouse, make a pause and then continue to move the mouse, the parameter determines that the pause causes the action to break into two separate mouse movements.

Playback settings

Block keys during playback

The option "Block keys during playback" blocks any keyboard input during playback.

Pause on mouse move / key press

"Pause on mouse move" stops macro playback in the moment you move the mouse.

"Pause on key press" stops playback if you press any key.

Restore mouse position after playback

This option restores the mouse cursor position where it was right before you started the playback.

Restore windows sizes and positions

Macro Recorder recordings include the window size and position of each controlled program window. Option "Restore windows sizes and positions" tries to set the position and dimensio of these windows in case they have been resized in the meantime. Macro playback is aborted if the window does not fit into the current screen dimensions.

Use relative mouse positions

Macro Recorder always records absolute mouse X/Y coordinates. Playback of mouse movements can be optionally be output as mouse coordinates relative to the previous sampled mouse coordinate to enable compatibility with specific 3rd party CAD programs or games.

Hotkey settings

Don't underestimate the power of hotkeys in Macro Recorder!

Hotkeys allow you to record/start/stop macros with a single press of a key and while the Macro Recorder program window can stay minimized which prevents it getting in the way.

You must use a key together with a combination of the SHIFT, ALT and/or CTRL key, e.g. CTRL+ALT+F9.

Hotkey "Capture mouse position" captures the mouse coordinate for the "mouse click" action and the mouse coordinate and color underneath of the "pixel detection" action, both without affecting the underlying application window.

The default capture hotkey is the space bar.

Playback can always be stopped by pressing ESC, regardless if you configure an additional custom hotkey.

User Interface

These options are so descriptive, that no further explanation seems to be required.

Licensing

Use of advanced features and professional use require a license key purchase. You can register the license key in the software, remove the license and renew maintenance of the license key.

License Registration

To register a license key to a Macro Recorder installation:

  1. Purchase a license in our online shop.
  2. You will receive a license key by email after payment.
  3. Copy the entire license key into the clipboard.
  4. Open the Macro Recorder main program window..
  5. Click the Help » Register license in the main menu.
  6. Paste the clipboard containing the license key into the input box.
  7. Press "Register" to register your installation.

The license key registration is an one-time procedure. An internet connection is required to store the license key association to your hardware on your online license database (privacy policy).

License Removal

To apply a new license key (for a maintenance renewal) or if you wish to tie the license key to a different user name, you can de-register the license key from the current installation:

  1. Open the Macro Recorder main program window
  2. Click the Help » About Macro Recorder in the main menu.
  3. Press "Remove license".
This operation requires an internet connection in order to delete the license key association in our online database (privacy policy).

Maintenance renewal

To renew maintenance for an existing registered installation:

  1. De-register the current license key.
  2. Register the new license key.

License status

To review the current license status and remaining maintenance term:

  1. Open the Macro Recorder main program window
  2. Click the Help » About Macro Recorder in the main menu.

Uninstall Macro Recorder

Make sure to deregister any license key before removing/uninstalling Macro Recorder, so you can use the software on another device.

Exit the Macro Recorder program if it is still running and remove the software with the operating system feature to remove programs (please refer to the OS documentation for more information).

Windows only: If the Uninstaller informs the user that Macro Recorder is still running while there is no Macro Recorder tray icon, press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to open the task manager, switch to the tab "Processes", click "Show processes from all users", highlight the process 'MouseRecorder.exe' and force the program to quit by clicking on the 'End Process' button.

If running Macro Recorder from a portable memory device, simply delete the program folder.

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