Written by Eric Wyatt (last updated March 15, 2021)
A considerable pain for many users when it comes to using their computers is dealing with repetitive tasks. These repetitious tasks can, at many times, feel like a waste of time. If you're like me, there are times you wish you could code so you could write a program or app that would perform the task for you. These tasks often go on and on, making you feel like a drone. In recent years, a growing number of solutions try to provide a break from repetitive tasks. These services include sites like IFFT and Zapier. However, a significant drawback to most of these services is that they only work in the cloud and not on your desktop.
Fortunately, Microsoft has a solution that they recently released to all Windows 10 users, capable of desktop automation and cloud service integration. Power Automate is the result of Microsoft's acquisition in 2020 of Softomotive. When Microsoft initially released Power Automate, it was only available for specific versions of Windows operating systems. It was also a service for which Microsoft charged a monthly fee. Recently, however, Microsoft has released Power Automate for all versions of Windows 10, and it is now free. Microsoft has implied that Power Automate will be a part of upcoming Windows releases.
Power Automate allows you, according to Microsoft, to "build flows that do the work for you." A "flow" is the term Microsoft uses for the processes you create to do the repetitious tasks for you. These tasks can be just about anything, from capturing or scraping data from emails or websites to managing files. A simple flow could entail opening a folder of over one-thousand purchase orders you created in Microsoft Word. The flow then opens the files and pulls the specified data from the file, and it will then place the content into the appropriate cell in an Excel workbook.
But why stop there? You can then have Power Automator take those Word files, convert them into a PDF, and then save those PDF files in a new folder. Let's say your purchase order folder also includes other files such as PowerPoint and Excel files all mixed in. You can instruct Power Automate to ignore all the files other than Word documents without slowing you down at all.
Hopefully, this illustrates the type of power that Power Automator affords you. To learn more about Power Automate, go to Microsoft's site: https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/desktop/.
This tip (13835) applies to Windows 10.
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