For people who deal with repetitive tasks, Ghost Control is the solution they have been looking for. Its advanced processing engine allows you to record all keyboard and mouse input you do while performing a job you wish to repeat. Once recorded, raw actions are stored into Ghost Control Jobs, wherefrom they can be tweaked and molded as you wish using the Ghost Control's Editor feature. This feature makes it possible to make fully optimized tasks which are, when the time comes, replayed smoother, faster and more "to the point" than you originally recorded them, ensuring your work gets done with as little time wasted possible. Just to give you the idea: using the Editor, you can change keys you pressed, remove unnecessary mouse or keyboard actions or insert new actions into already existing Jobs. You can change the advanced options which you'll get to know as you play with Ghost Control. Furthermore, you can change the execution speed of the Job, making it possible to replay the tasks at up to 10X faster than the original speed. When it comes to replaying the saved Jobs, users will be glad to hear that Ghost Control has an in-built scheduling service which makes it easy for your work to get done even when you're not around your computer. For quick execution of tasks that need to respond quickly, you have a nice Hotkey feature at your disposal. Simply bind a hotkey combination to a Ghost Control Job, and running jobs becomes seamless business. Ghost Control features another great feature: the Export To Exe. This feature opens a whole new perspective and so many possibilities because it allows Ghost Control Jobs to be replayed even on computers that don't have the Ghost Control software installed. Ghost Control offers user interface available in 4 languages: English, German, French and Spanish.
What's new in this version:
Version 3.0.6 may include unspecified updates, enhancements, or bug fixes.
Create separate, complex macros (jobs); Edits job details with a built-in editor - dissect jobs, splice jobs, continue recording at end of job, and more; Adjust replay speed of individual events; Recorded everything I could throw at it.
Will intermittently miss an edit box or button in a job. This isn't a big deal for my work, but could be a problem for some folks. Errors could be from my hyper-sensitive mouse - it will occasionally send a Mickey when I'm not even touching it.
When I'm able, I help out with a website that has tens of thousands of products. To get a new website product online, I start out with one manufacturer-supplied image and need to produce three website-sized image files like this:
Detail SKU 100192 - XXX.jpg (600 x 600 pixels) Medium SKU 100192 - XXX.jpg (300 x 300 pixels) Thumbnail SKU 100192 - XXX.jpg (150 x 150 pixels)
Where the XXX is whatever the original name of the image was from the manufacturer. That means a LOT of image manipulation in short bursts.
The work consists of gathering 100 or so images and their associated SKUs, then running them each through a small image resizing program. To complete processing of one product set of three images takes about 30 keystrokes, 10 mouse clicks, 7 edit box selections with the mouse, and 6 switches between mouse and keyboard for the right (or left I suppose) hand. With de-cramping breaks, it takes roughly 2 hours to do a set of 100 products if things go well.
I have used macro recorders before when developing large programs and I have even written one of my own for some custom tasks. I realized I could really cut down the website image processing task if I could find the right macro recording utility.
I tried a few and then downloaded the demo version of Ghost Control. I immediately ran into the 30 second macro length limitation in the demo version. Manually, I was doing an individual product in about 45-50 seconds. I practiced a bit and wrote a short script to read and follow, but it still took 10 or more tries before I was able to beat the 30 second clock. Even then, I was going at warp 10 switching from keyboard to mouse and back while trying to think 3 steps ahead. The developers probably should revisit this issue in the demo version. I would have been happier if they had limited me to recording 5 or 10 macros total with the demo, but left the individual macro length unlimited.
Once I succeeded in recording a macro to do the job though, it was all worth the effort. As I mentioned, it took me about 45-50 seconds per product doing it by hand on a good day while the Ghost Control macro runs in less than 5 seconds and is far less prone to typing and other errors than the manual work.
Ghost Control has pretty much everything you'd want in a low-cost but effective macro recorder. It records all keystrokes and mouse movements/button clicks (both the up and down key and button messages are recorded). It also allows you to create macros (called Jobs in the software) of surprising complexity after you get up the learning curve with the editor. You can get other packages with a slicker interface and some additional functionality - but you won't find much that competes with Ghost Control for only $35.
The job editor is especially useful. You can adjust individual event durations and delays between events. This is critical if you have a program whose interface does not play well if it gets keyboard and mouse messages from Ghost Control at superhuman speed. In the image processing package I use, there is one particular operation that needs to complete before ANY additional keyboard or mouse input is sent to the window. No problem - I opened up the job in Ghost Control's editor and inserted a short delay. I then gradually increased the delay until I got consistent results. Finally, I added a little extra to the delay just to be on the safe side.
I have found one annoying issue with Ghost Control. It will intermittently miss an edit box selection or button press. I haven't yet had a chance to track down the cause, but it could very well be my hyper-sensitive mouse. My mouse sometimes sends a Mickey or two - even when I'm not touching it. Operator keyboard or mouse input while Ghost Control is trying to run a macro is a recipe for failure.
For my purposes, an occasional error is not a big problem since Ghost Control has reduced our overall error rate by at least a factor of 10. I can see where this could, however, be an issue for some users. Again, don't dismiss Ghost Control based on my complaint as I don't know if the problem lies in the code or my hardware.
If you find yourself doing repetitive typing or mousing (and especially combinations of the two) and you don't have a corporate budget, Ghost Control should be on your computer.
I need macro software to deal with some complicated sequences. I'd be glad to pay for it, but need a good test -- I've been burned before. The trial version times out after 30 seconds which is not enough time if you are doing mouse clicks etc.
My 3* rating is meaningless -- I'm unable to rate for my possible uses.
The macros I recorded took 4 or 5 tries before I was able to beat the 30 s clock. I type pretty fast, but was still doing a 100 meter dash switching from keyboard to mouse while trying to think 3 steps ahead.
If you haven?t used the editor yet you should. It allows you to edit time delays, event durations, and a few other things that make macros run a lot faster and still have sufficient delays where your hardware and/or other software needs them. The trial version is limited to saving your edits 30 times, so plan ahead if you?d like to use the splicing method below to create a longer macro.
Break your macro into pieces, record the pieces, and then use the editor to splice them together. The editor also allows you to start recording additional events at the end of a previous macro. The total length is still limited to 30 seconds, but if you record a portion of your macro and edit the delays down to machine-speed times, you should be able to incrementally add on quite a bit.