Microsoft recently announced that it has made the Power Automate desktop completely free for all Windows 10 users. Those of you who don’t know what it is, see macros that you can use to automate repetitive tasks. Microsoft calls this assisted robotic process automation, which you can use to create automated workflows connecting different desktop and web apps on Windows.
Microsoft offers the Power Automate paid plans if you need unlimited streams or add more users to the mix, starting at $ 15 per user per month. Let’s take a look at the free version first and understand what Power Automate Desktop is, how it works, why you might need it, and how to set it up.
What is Power Automate Desktop
Microsoft acquired Softomotive last year and has been working to integrate it into its ecosystem ever since. The result is Power Automate Desktop, but what is it?
Have you ever used IFTTT or Zapier? If so, you already know what to expect from Power Automate Desktop. They are automation tools that connect web and mobile apps to create complex workflows made up of tasks that run when certain predefined conditions are met. Power Automate Desktop is Microsoft’s version for Windows and the larger Microsoft ecosystem and integrates many third-party applications and services.
Microsoft first created macros that users could use, for example, to open a specific application using a combination of keys. Macros are a collection of instructions grouped into a single instruction that expands when launched to perform a particular task.
Think of Power Automate Desktop as an advanced version of Macros that comes with a drag-and-drop interface, making it easy to create workflows that consist of multiple actions, each leading to the next. This makes it easy to automate repetitive tasks that don’t require your attention or time, allowing you to focus on more complex issues that require human intervention and attention.
How Power Automate Desktop Works
Step 1: Download the free version using the link we shared above. Sign in using your Microsoft account. Use the same one you are using on your Windows computer.
2nd step: Click the New Flow button to begin the process once you are logged in.
Step 3: Choose a name for your Flow, or the app will generate one automatically. Click Create at the bottom to continue.
Step 4: Your newly created Flow will open in a new pop-up window where you will find a list of actions on the left. Double click on any action category to expand it, and you will find more associated actions. Let’s keep it simple for the sake of this guide. Drag and drop Launch Excel in Excel to the Main tab.
Step 5: You can create and open a new Excel file or open an existing one. We will create a new one. Click on Save.
Step 6: Select “Write in Excel spreadsheet” now, write a message or a value that you want to enter, and then select the row and column that you want to enter. Save the changes.
Step 7: Finally, choose Close Excel. This is what your workflow should look like. Clicking the Play button will help you test the workflow and make sure everything is working as you expected.
Step 8: If something is wrong you will see a message with the sub stream number so you know exactly which step you need to correct. In our case, this was the third step and we could visualize the workflow in real time. A new excel sheet opened on the desktop, the message was written in the row / cell we entered but the excel sheet did not close properly.
Step 9: You have to be specific. We asked Power Automate Desktop to save the Excel file, but were unable to choose a path and filename. Once we fixed that everything worked as it should.
Users can create complex and lengthy workflows involving multiple applications and actions and test them to ensure that the workflow is not interrupted. Although the user interface is easy to navigate, creating longer workflows in Power Automate Desktop can take some time. We expect experts and other users to share their workflows on social media channels soon for the benefit of others.
Who should get it
Everyone should have it. Windows users can now automate several tasks. Extract images from PDF files, copy / delete / move files after work is done, use conditions, automatically open webpage set when trigger is confirmed, etc.
Microsoft already has a growing library of prebuilt templates and connectors that you can use to launch items on their site. Just log in to find one quickly. If it’s not perfect, maybe you can change it?
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Automate or delegate
What you can’t automate, you should try to delegate. The idea is to make time in your daily schedule for the essential issues that require your expertise. A lot of people are busy all day without actually getting anything done. They are wasting their time and talents instead of being productive and contributing in a more meaningful way. It is a step in the right direction. Automation is the future, whether it’s software, robots, or AI. So what’s your favorite Power Automate Desktop workflow recipe? Share with us in the comments section below.
Here’s a look at how you can automate meetings on your Android calendar using the Kono app. It’s simple and effective, read on to find out more.
Last updated on March 10, 2021
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