⌘ Keyboard Maestro for Windows – RoboTask?
Before we get started, there is no Keyboard Maestro for Windows. I consider Keyboard Maestro to the gold standard for automation on the Mac. Sadly, there is nothing that comes close to the power and ease of use for Keyboard Maestro on Windows, but in my search for Windows automation, I’ve sort of come close.
RoboTask is a close approximation, but be warned: even though it’s a good app, it’s ridiculously expensive. And I really mean ridiculously expensive. At nearly $200, there is nothing about the app that justifies its cost. For reference, Keyboard Maestro is less than $40. RoboTask, what you up to?
Like Keyboard Maestro, RoboTask can automate tasks like copying files, launching apps on a schedule or when conditions are met, and moving windows to a specific location. It also has “triggers” like Keyboard Maestro, such as application starting, application closing, time of day, and device change. Plus, RoboTask can send keystrokes to an application, load files, and can move the mouse and click on different areas of the screen. There are internal commands for creating Strings, Array, Random numbers, Math operators, Loops, and Branching. So far it sounds pretty good.
Here are a few macros I’ve created with RoboTask so far:
- Very basic automation of an Android mobile device using the Move mouse and Click actions. Tedious and brittle, but it works.
- Interact with an API for testing-Get a Bearer token and copy it to the clipboard. Send Request data. Not going to lie, this is pretty cool.
- Create and bundle up files related to creating a “test build” from Visual Studio. This is done using Nuke from the command line.
- It deletes the previous project from the thumb drive
- Generates the “Release” build using Nuke
- Removes certain “.config” files from the build so I don’t overwrite my setup
- Copies the completed project to the thumb drive
- This takes several minutes and can now run in the background
- Delete temporary files on a schedule like old screenshots, reports from Katalon, and temp files. A bit of CCleaner action.
- Clean the Visual Studio project folder when I switch between branches
- Save all my SQL queries when I activate the SMS window so I don’t lose my work
- Restart my apps after a reboot so I can get my work environment back. Considering how many times Windows needs to be rebooted, this is a frequently used macro
There is a lot of functionality I haven’t tapped into yet, like System Command and System Variables. But there are several app features I will never use, such as working with INI, Reg, XML files, connecting to FTP, or checking a dial-up connection. Really, dial-up in 2023? Are you hiding in a government silo?
RoboTask is pretty good, but when you get stuck, you’re going to have to dig for an answer. The forums for RoboTask aren’t anywhere near as comprehensive or active as those for Keyboard Maestro. The documentation isn’t anywhere near as complete or robust as what Keyboard Maestro offers. There is no Wiki full of examples, although there are some Sample macros you look over. The Help file isn’t terrible, but the examples and use cases are pretty lacking.
Another frustration is, unlike Keyboard Maestro, there are no keyword triggers for macros. There is no way to trigger a macro by name or choose from a palette of names like with Keyboard Maestro. You can either use a hotkey, which you’ll run out of pretty quickly, or pick one of the “actions.”
This is a major flaw and oversight. It basically means RoboTask can’t be used to generate test data, or perform any sort of clipboard manipulation while you type. Unlike Keyboard Maestro, you can’t stage a macro and have it deliver the results into a field or application. For that simple action, you have to switch to RoboTask, manually run the macro, put the text on the clipboard, switch to the app, then paste it. A lot of that can be automated, but you still have to leave where you are and kick it off within RoboTask itself. From a true automation standpoint that’s an epic fail. And it costs how much? Simple example, I can’t put a random value into a field when I click on it.
Even though RoboTask is useful, it doesn’t feel as polished or as robust as Keyboard Maestro. The documentation and examples could and should be a lot better. RoboTask can get some work done, but nothing justifies the app’s ridiculous price.
If RoboTask were priced at $50, I would highly recommend it even for casual use cases. You’ll get $50 worth of use out of it within a year. But, when you look at Keyboard Maestro, just about everyone can benefit from it. Even if you aren’t “coding” you can use the drag and drop widgets to help you out. RoboTask isn’t that easy, and you don’t have the same kind of community to guide you along.
RoboTask is useful, but it isn’t for casual users, the price is too damn high. You need to have solid use cases to justify the cost and time investment.