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Automation Resources that are Free (Updated 2020)

Desktop Automation Resources

Below is a list of constantly growing automation resources we rely on:


Automation Resources

AutoHotKey is a great, free, scripting language which ties in very tightly with Windows.  It allows for easily automating many mundane things in the Windows environment.   I recommend using AutoHotKey_L Unicode 32 bit.  Some intro tutorials are a great place to start; especially HotStrings and HotKeys.



SciTE4AutoHotKey by fincs is a great editor for AutoHotKey and a ton of other languages!  (I use it for SQL, HTML, XML, Python, SPSS, and my default text editor.  I have several posts showing some of it’s great functionality.  Here is the main Q&A AutoHotKey forum post.


AutoHotKey forumThe AutoHotKey Forum is a life saver!  Amazing level of friendly and helpful support!  Please be sure you search the forum before posting your question (especially for noobs).   More often than not your question will already be answered on the forum.   When you do post, please be sure to provide enough context so someone can answer your question and make sure the title of your post is meaningful.


jszapp jszapp.com is a site hosted by a guy that is passionate about automating and AutoHotKey.



Raynald Levesque ToolsMy go-to resource for about 20 years is Raynald Levesque’s SPSS site.  He has some great macros, string manipulation, and syntax files.



Kirill’s SPSS Macros PageKirill's SPSS Macros has some very interesting and advanced macros!

uga listservethe UGA listserve is a great resource for SPSS related questions. Many of the responses are dated bu the SPSS syntax has been stable for many years so they are still relevant and helpful.


ViewSavI refuse to link to the IBM SPSS site because it is a nightmare!  Very confusing to navigate & find what you want.  It’s my last resort!  Also shame on IBM for turning SPSS into a bloated cow that costs an arm-and-a-leg!  I still use version 13 for my day to day work which is lean and does 99% of what I want.

For non-SPSS core users I’m happy to put a link to ViewSav.  This is an open-source tool which can open SPSS data files.  The initial version does basic frequencies.  The beta version performs cross tabs more.


File Search & manipulation

grepWingrepWin is a free powerful and fast search tool.  This is my go-to tool when searching for text IN files on my computer. It’s also great because it supports regular expressions as well as Find and Replace (so you can replace text across a ton of files.)


file search

Do you miss the old “windows XP / Windows 7” search?  I hate the new Windows 8 / Windows 10 search and found File Search which looks/feels like what I was used to.  You can download a trial copy and purchasing for home use is $10.



7-Zip7-Zip is a great tool for handling all types of compressed files.  When using the native 7zip compression I typically see file-size shrink around 25% lower than when using zip format.


DropBox Dropbox is an amazing tool that has saved my butt more times than I can count!  Besides allowing me to keep all my computers (6 at the moment) in sync with each other always being able to revert to a previous version or deleted file is amazing!  The other thing I highly recommend is that you configure your windows folders like desktop, my docs, toolbars,etc. under DropBox.  This allows all the computers to stay the same and look identical!

Tweaking Windows & other tools

Classic ShellWhile windows 10 is light years above Win 8, I still like to use Classic Shell to change the appearance to a “Windows XP kind of look.   This helps speed up your computer by not using resources to make windows “shiny.”


7+ Taskbar TweakerAnother great tool for tweaking windows is 7+ Taskbar Tweaker.   I find a lot of the “snazzy” things in Windows very distracting.  This tool allows to turn-off many of unwanted those features.


winpatrol For ensuring your computer doesn’t get bogged down and/or hijacked I highly recommend WinPatrol.  It does an amazing job monitoring changes to Windows and has saved my butt more times that I can count.  It is also amazing to see all of the alerts that pop-up when you’re installing new software and the number of items the program tries to put into the start-up folder!
ccleanerCCleaner is a great, free, tool that can help keep your computer clean and running fast!



Fiddler is a wonderful, fairly simple, tool for monitoring network traffic.  The program is a great way to compare what is going on with your browser traffic verse your API call.


filetypes managerFileTypes manager is a great way to help control Windows file associations.  Sometimes the built-in Windows extension tool just can’t associate the files in the way you want it.  This is a great tool for getting really nitty-gritty.


For playing with images and icons infranViewInfranView is a great tool!  I love using the icon browse function to grab icons from programs and re-purpose them for other uses.


VLC media player

VLC media player is flat out awesome at playing any video / audio files!  Highly customizable and does a great job playing files that other players can’t handle.


HandBrakeHandBrake is an awesome open-source video converter.  Very simple and easy to use and can handle looking at an entire folder of video files and converting them to your preferred format.


Tor BrowserDoes your company prevent you from visiting specific websites?  The Tor browser can typically get around the issue by tunneling out via VPN to an external server, then navigating to your destination.


WinSCPWinSCP is a free program that I use for performing FTP and SFTP file transfers.  It also has some cool tools for using PuTTY.


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