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TJD

Can't work on PC while macro is running?

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Hi all,

Just got Macro Express on trial and am trying out a captured mouse routine for a browser. There's select, copy, paste and go, click, and wait in there -- then repeat.

The plan was to run this on a loop. But it seems that's going to make my mouse occupied full time while the macro is running.

I won't be saving any time that way unless I buy another PC.

Is there a way around this?

Cheers for any help anyone can offer.

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Could you describe in detail what are you trying to accomplish?

If you are using Macro Express's capture feature, be aware that playing back a script may not give you the results you are looking for. A captured macro may not play back correctly when run in a different window.

As a general macro scripting rule, I suggest avoiding mouse actions unless there are no alternatives. In browsers, there are ways to navigate, select, copy, and paste without the mouse. The ease of performing these actions sans mouse, however, depends on the browser and your browser settings. When dealing with web content, I find Firefox easier to work with than Internet Explorer or  Chrome.

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"...in a different window"? I'm not sure what you mean. I would run the macro only in the windows specified when it was created. I'm certain it would not run correctly in other windows.

Anyway, I have created what I want, and it ran okay when tested.

My question is about the problem of not being able to do any work or browse in other windows/programs when the macro is running. Are you saying that by using only keystrokes to navigate for the capture -- instead of the mouse -- I would then be able to work concurrently in other windows when the created macro is working?

I did want to do that with the one I just created, but my keyboard is a malfunctioning mess now and too unreliable. I am awaiting delivery of a replacement.

Thanks for your response, btw.

If you do know of a solution that will allow me to keep typing/browsing elsewhere while a macro is running, that will be helpful and much appreciated.

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Windows itself only allows one dialog to receive keystrokes and mouse clicks. That window is the one that has focus or is the active window.

You can have a macro that runs while you are interacting with a different window but it is tricky. First, the application where you want the macro to run must support Window Controls. Not all programs do. Then your macro needs to interact with that window with only Window Controls, not keystrokes or mouse clicks.

Another approach is to create a virtual machine. When a virtual machine is running it looks and acts like a separate computer. The VM can run in a separate window on your main workstation. The VM has to be configured with Windows and your application along with Macro Express would need to be installed on the VM. It gets a bit involved but it works well.

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If you created the macro by capturing your actions, the resulting script is likely extremely long. If it's sufficiently lengthy, the script will take time to execute. And while it's executing, you will be effectively prevented from doing anything else with your computer.

There are many advantages of keyboard input over mouse input when automating repetitive tasks via macros:

First, the number of keystrokes is significantly fewer than the number of mouse movements. Dozens, hundreds, or thousands of mouse movements can sometimes be replaced with one or two keypresses.

For example, if you record yourself selecting an entire webpage by scrolling to the top, clicking in front of the first word, and dragging down to the end of the page, the capture can conceivably be a thousand lines long. But the same action can be accomplished by pressing a single keystroke: Ctrl + A.

Second, a script consisting of keystrokes is more likely to work reliably. A recorded macro consisting of mouse actions may not work as expected if you change the zoom level in your browser or resize the window. Nor is your macro guaranteed to work if the web developers change a page's styles (e.g., typefaces, font sizes) or add or subtract content from the page.

On the other hand, the hotkey for selecting an entire webpage will always work – at least, as long as a form element does not have keyboard input focus.

Ultimately, if the macro is taking so long to execute that you are unable to do anything else, it's worthwhile rewriting the macro so that the task is performed via keyboard. If your computer is locked for a long time while your mouse-intensive macro is running, know that simulating the keystrokes won't prevent the macro from locking up your computer, but it will probably only do so for a fraction of a second.

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Thank you for the info and the suggestions.

I am intrigued by the virtual machine idea, and I'll likely take a look at that.

Meanwhile, I do have a macro that functions. Just not an ideal setup, and it will need more work to get there.

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On 29/12/2017 at 3:42 AM, Samrae said:

...Another approach is to create a virtual machine. When a virtual machine is running it looks and acts like a separate computer. The VM can run in a separate window on your main workstation. The VM has to be configured with Windows and your application along with Macro Express would need to be installed on the VM. It gets a bit involved but it works well.

Along the lines of what Samrae helpfully suggested, I opted for a virtual private server, with the main difference apparently being that I can then run apps with an Internet connection even when my PC is shut down.

I've installed Macro Express, a browser, and a Notepad page with URLs to be copied in a VPS running Windows Server 8.

The issue now is that Macros captured there do not function when run. I tried both mouse-click capture and keystroke capture. When played back, the cursor just moves around a little on the Macro Express window.

If someone can now suggest a solution for this issue,  I will be getting somewhere.

Thanks in advance.

NOTE: I am still using the mouse and keyboard installed on my PC. I am not clear on whether some adjustment is needed there.

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I have experience using VMWare virtual machine software but I have not used a virtual private server. (Other virtual machine software include VirtualBox, HyperV, and Parallels.) My suggestions may or may not apply to a VPS.

Check for any options that may affect how macros run. Some VM's have a setting to determine how hotkeys work. For example, there may be a setting that determines whether a hotkey is sent to the host computer or to the virtual machine.

Some virtual software assumes that if your keyboard and mouse are not connected that there is no reason to process keystrokes and mouse events. This is how Windows Terminal Services work. It may be that the VPS you are using works that way also.

When I use a virtual machine both my computer and VMWare must be running.

 

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Thanks Samrae, but I'm getting nowhere with this. I'll try posting the issue in a new thread to see what turns up.

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