⌘ Keyboard Maestro for Windows – Macro Toolworks?
Before we get started, there is no Keyboard Maestro for Windows. 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.
Macro Toolworks is a close approximation to Keyboard Maestro, but like RoboTask, its ridiculously expensive. There are some cool features, and it can do some neat things, but there is nothing about this app that justifies its $100 price tag. Cut that in half and you’ll be on to something.
Macro Toolworks can do a lot of cool thing and automate tasks like opening files, launching apps, and moving windows to a specific position. It has the same kind of “triggers” like Keyboard Maestro, such as an application starting, when an application closes, time of day, and device change. Additionally, it can send keystrokes to an application to navigate the menu or type in text, load files, and click on different areas of the screen.
Here are some examples of macros I’ve created with Macro Toolworks:
- Generating test data such as valid, but random user name and email address
- Generating test data in JSON format for an API
- Text expansion for words, code lines, JSON templates, and multi-line code blocks inside Visual Studio Code
- Performing actions inside of apps, such as loading and executing a script inside SQL after typing a keyword
- Fill in form data based on a keyword
I find putting macros together easier in Macro Toolworks than in RoboTask. It’s easier to search for the command you want, and there is an example of how it can be used in the definition. If you use the UI, there is a small form you can fill in to pass arguments. Command are also easier to copy and paste because you can copy them as regular text. Additionally, the code is more drag-and-drop like Keyboard Maestro.
One of the key advantages of Macro Toolworks is that it can trigger macros based on keywords. This is extremely useful as keywords work across multiple apps, and it’s now possible to expand a large block of text from a single keyword. For example, I can type “apiuser@” and a JSON template with test data will be generated. I can also type the first letters of my trigger and get a menu of expansion choices.
Like Keyboard Maestro and RoboTask, Macro Toolworks supports a variety of automation functionalities:
- Open applications and load files
- Move the mouse and click
- Send keyboard commands to an application such as CTRL-S or F5
- Make random user data using Arrays, Strings, and random numbers
- Work with Loops, Decisions, and Branching
- Perform calculations and other functions
- Call other macros
I really like Macro Toolworks, but I can’t get over its price. It’s twice as much as Keyboard Maestro at $99. Even if you take Keyboard Maestro and add TypeIt4Me, it’s still $30 more.
From a usage standpoint, using the Move and Click actions is tedious. Picking the right location on the screen isn’t very accurate and you have to specify Mouse Up or Mouse Down vs it just being a Click action.
The Macro Toolworks documentation is better, but it’s not as robust as Keyboard Maestro. Nor is the user base as active. At $100, not everyone is jumping at the chance to own a copy of this tool. Finding an answer for a use case is going to take some digging.
If I had to choose, I would prefer to use Macro Toolworks on a regular basis. In fact, that’s how its worked out. I use Macro Toolworks far more than RoboTask on a daily basis. If RoboTask supported keyword triggers, I might not have Macro Toolworks at all.
Macros are easier to write, edit, and read in Macro Toolworks compared to RoboTask. Additionally, Macro Toolworks supports keyword triggers which is a huge benefit, and it’s much easier to generate test data. In fact, even though it’s expensive, I use Macro Toolworks to generate a huge amount of test data for me. It’s like Keyboard Maestro and TypeIt4Me combined. That doesn’t excuse the ridiculous price, but it does help to justify it.
That said, the purchase price for Macro Toolworks is painful, and it’s not a casual purchase. If the price dropped to something more reasonable, like $45-50, then it would be a must-have tool, like Keyboard Maestro. As it stands, you really need a use case to justify purchasing Macro Toolworks. Its functions aren’t for the casual user, nor is it a casual purchase.
It’s really disappointing that Macro Toolworks and RoboTask are so damn expensive, yet don’t hit the mark of being a complete automation package like Keyboard Maestro. Not to mention Keyboard Maestro is a mere $40. I’m trying to approximate the Mac like experience, so you have to pay to play. And pay dearly.