Mouse Recorder - Documentation

Introduction

Mouse Recorder records your mouse actions, keyboard input and program window changes for infinite playback. You can automate any activity in any windows application.

Macro recordings can be exported to our popular Text Expander for Windows, PhraseExpress. Exported macros are stored in a single macro function in PhraseExpress, thus can be shared in a company network with its client-/server architecture or triggered by hotkeys or Autotext text abbreviations.

Main features

  • Recording of mouse movements, mouse clicks and scroll-wheel actions.
  • Recording of keystrokes and program window names, positions and size.
  • Wait for specific window states (e.g. wait until a web page is loaded).
  • Macro export for use with PhraseExpress.
  • Built-in macro step-by-step editor.
  • Variable playback speed.

Special benefits

  • Works in any program as it simulates generic mouse & keyboard actions.
  • Smart application windows auto-resize.
  • Streamlining of edgy mouse movements for professional software tutorial video creation.
  • Advanced editing features with mouse position auto-sensing.
  • Easy identification of mouse actions by visual mouse path overlays.
  • Smart macro optimization to eliminate redundant automation steps.
  • Seamless integration with the Text Expander software PhraseExpress.
  • Portable install option for USB thumb drives.

Use case examples

  • Automate repetitive tasks on your computer.
  • Perform advanced configuration steps and hand the recorded file for remote execution.
  • Create streamlined presentations and tutorial videos.
  • Ideal for use with screen recording software, e.g. Camtasia.
  • Auto-fill forms, generate reports, etc.
  • Perform system maintenance tasks
  • Auto-login to online accounts.
  • Auto-click websites or programs.

Installation

To install Mouse Recorder:

  1. Download the installation file "MouseRecorderSetup.exe".
  2. Double-click the installation file and follow the on-screen instructions.
  3. Double-click the program file to launch Mouse Recorder.

First steps

  1. Launch Mouse Recorder.
  2. Press the "Record" button on the "ribbon" bar menu.
  3. Switch to any application.
  4. Perform some mouse moves, mouse clicks and keyboard input in any application.
  5. Press the Stop button to stop recording.
  6. Fine-tune by editing the actions recorded by Mouse Recorder, if necessary.
  7. Press the "Play" button to repeat the recorded actions.

Mouse Recorder records and playback your actions but also does much more.

Keep reading to get the most out of the macro recorder.

Main program window

The Mouse Recorder program window:

main program window

Creating macros

Mouse Recorder offers two approaches to create a macro automation:

  1. Record your mouse and keyboard actions like using a tape recorder.
  2. Build up a macro from ground up by adding individual actions step-by-step.

Recording a macro

Record buttonPress the Record button or right-click the task tray icon and select "Record" to start recording.

Alternatively, press the hotkey you may have configured for this action.

Mouse Recorder records following actions:

You can pause at any time by stopping the recording. To continue recording, click "Append Recording" (sub menu underneath the Record button).

A separate mouse move event is added for each mouse click or every time you pause during a move for a minimum time (as specified in the recording settings).

Mouse Recorder captures detailed information about the performed actions and optimizes the script at the same time to keep it easy to edit:

  • Mouse Recorder combines a mouse button down event and button up event without any action in between to a mouse button click event. It also filters slight unwanted mouse movements below a certain threshold.
  • Small interruptions or pauses below a threshold are ignored.
  • Mouse Recorder compiles the continuous stream of mouse X/Y coordinates into a handy single macro event. You can later opt to playback the movements as recorded or have Mouse Recorder streamline it to straight or curved movements.

The threshold parameters can be customized in the settings.

You can also create a new recording from the Text Expander PhraseExpress:

  1. Create a new phrase in PhraseExpress.
  2. Click on Macro » Mouse Recorder automation
  3. Record the macro
  4. Exit Mouse Recorder

The macro will then be placed into the phrase which you can edit in Mouse Recorder by double-clicking the macro in PhraseExpress.

Recording tips:

  • Don't worry about mistakes - You can edit or remove unwanted actions later.
  • Take your time - You don't need to hurry up. You can adjust the playback speed later.
  • No perfection required - Mouse Recorder can smooth out your mouse movements for clean mouse paths between clicks.
  • We strongly recommend to configure hotkeys for the recording and playback commands. It allows you to use Mouse Recorder without its main program window and eliminates the risk that the Mouse Recorder program window gets in the way during the recording.
  • If you record macros for playback on another computer, make sure that the playback computer's screen resolution matches the resolution of the computer where you have recorded the macro. Otherwise, mouse coordinates are shifted and mouse clicks may end in Nirvana.
  • Watch out for dynamic changes of objects. An icon on the taskbar may shift away if another program is launched. A tray icon may not be available if the corresponding program is not yet launched. Operate programs by key presses where you can.
  • The time to launch programs or to have programs complete tasks depend on the CPU power or energy settings for example: A laptop performs faster if connected to a power line vs. running on battery power. Give programs enough time to complete tasks under all conditions and add/increase wait commands.
  • Keep in mind that the automated program may look different on different computers or occasions: A ribbon bar may be collapsed, expanded or scrolled to either side. Prefer keyboard shortcuts over user interface mouse clicks.

Mouse Recorder can only recognize mouse and keyboard events from applications running with the same user credentials. If Mouse Recorder was launched with normal user rights, it won't recognized user input made into applications running with admin rights (e.g. the task manager). In order to catch those events, launch Mouse Recorder with admin rights, too.

Stop recording

Stop buttonPress the Stop button to stop the recording. Alternatively, press the hotkey you may have configured for this action.

After you have finished recording, Mouse Recorder shows all recorded actions in a list of individual actions. You can edit or delete individual actions from the list or append another recording.

You can save the recorded macro to a file.

Play recording

Play buttonPress the Play button to playback the recording. Alternatively, press the hotkey you may have configured for this action.

To stop playback, move the mouse or press the hotkey you may have configured for this action.

Mouse Recorder warns you if the screen resolution varies from the screen resolution when recorded.

Mouse Recorder restores window positions/sizes to their size during the recording to allow the window receiving all recorded mouse clicks.

Play macro partially

To play a specific part of the entire macro, highlight the action you want to start playback from, click the arrow down area of the Play button and select the desired option.

Loop playback

To loop the macro, enter the desired number of repetitions in the ribbon bar and press Play.

Tips & tricks

Transfer the macro to our other automation software, PhraseExpress. This enterprise solution allows you to organize unlimited macro functions in a customizable folder hierarchy and to trigger your macros by pressing a hotkey or entering a text abbreviation (Autotext). Its client-/server architecture also enables you to share recorded macro functions with your team.

 

Playback properties

Playback properties are available in the "Record and Play" ribbon bar menu of the main program window.

Recorded actions can be repeated in the same way as has they have been recorded or customized for specific applications.

All playback and filters options are saved with a Mouse Recorder macro file or if transferred to PhraseExpress.

Playback speed

The default playback mode tries to match the speed of the recorded performance.

Slow and fast mouth moves are played back as such. If you paused between steps such pauses will be reproduced in the playback.

Following settings speed up the playback:

  • Playback speed settings higher than 100%
  • Filtered mouse movements.
  • Reduce millisecond values of wait time items.

Important: Make sure to limit playback speed to grant the 3rd party programs you are automating enough time to process your input. For example, a web browser requires some time to load a web page (check pixel color detection for that).

Mouse path

Mouse Recorder is so much more than just "playback" and includes advanced algorithms to streamline your mouse movements:

While you record a procedure, you may find yourself moving the mouse to find a specific item.

You certainly don't want those "uhm…" and "errmh…" of the mouse in your recording - The unique "beautifier algorithm" in Mouse Recorder streamlines edged moves or eliminate mouse movements that are not required to perform the desired automation task, e.g. mouse movements while searching for a particular items on the monitor or dead-end movements that happen when you realize that objects on the desktop aren't at a location you thought.

Mouse Recorder can filter any such unwanted movement, resulting in a clean and unobtrusive mouse movement between distinctive start and end points.

This makes Mouse Recorder a great companion for screen recording software, such as Camtasia.

Mouse path as recorded:

Mouse Recorder repeats the mouse path and timing as recorded. The accuracy of the mouse movements is determined by the recording settings.

 

Linear mouse paths:

Recorded mouse paths are replaced with linear movements between mouse events (move or click actions). You can edit the duration of each mouse movement.

Curved (spline) mouse paths:

Recorded mouse paths are replaced with smooth curved movements between mouse events (move or click actions).

This option is ideal to streamline mouse movements for video tutorial screencasts.

Tips
  • To playback the clicks only without the movements, filter the movements from the list of actions.
  • Recordings may require playback of mouse movements "as recorded" to simulate hover effects, e.g. if an option that you want to click as the next action becomes available only after you hovered over a certain user interface element.
  • You can edit the duration of each mouse movement.

Playback filter

While Mouse Recorder records any details of your automation, you can easily filter out unwanted parts of a recording script.

To filter a specific action type, uncheck it in the Edit section of the ribbon menu bar.

The current filter configuration is always stored with a Mouse Recorder file or transferred to PhraseExpress.

Filtered events are not deleted but just temporarily suppressed during playback.

Editing macros

When Mouse Recorder recorded your performance, it creates list of individual action steps that are shown in the main program window in chronological order.

You can create such a sequence by recording your performance like a tape recorder, or you can build up an automation task by manually adding actions step-by-step:

Insert a new action

Highlight any existing action (if any) under which you want to add a new action.

Select the desired action from the "Add action" section of the "Edit Macro" ribbon bar menu.

Configure the macro parameters.

Editing actions

Edit macroDouble-click any action in the list, highlight an item and press ENTER or click the "pencil" icon in the ribbon bar to edit the action parameters.

If you click any mouse action, Mouse Recorder will display the actual mouse path or mouse click position until you move to the next item or if you hover away from the selected action.

If you click a pixel color detection item, Mouse Recorder will show the position of the pixel that is monitored for a color change.

Multiple actions can be edited simultaneously by selecting them with mouse or by using a combination of CTRL and/or SHIFT.

Right-click macro actions for additional options.

Drag & Drop actions in the list to re-arrange the sequential order.

Delete an action

deleteTo delete one or more actions from the list, highlight the items with mouse and press DEL on your keyboard or the delete button the toolbar menu. The delete confirmation dialog can be configured in the program settings.

 

Macro items

If you edit or add a macro action, Mouse Recorder opens a macro edit window like this example:

 

You can manually enter/adjust the parameters in the dialog or use the mouse to "point & click" on your desktop to define X/Y coordinates and additional parameters.

Mouse click

Clicks or double-clicks at the specified position with the left/middle/right/X1/X2 mouse button as defined.

"X1" / "X2" are extra mouse buttons of advanced 5 button mouse devices.

Mouse movement

Moves the mouse pointer from the start to the end position. Define the coordinates by clicking the start point followed by the end point.

The mouse path shape in between the start and end point can be configured in the playback properties.

Mouse scroll-wheel turn

Simulates turning the mouse scroll-wheel in "virtual" pixels. Playback may be affected/translated/changed by the mouse drivers. We recommend to record the wheel action to get predictable results. Keep in mind that mouse driver settings may differ between computers.

Key press

Simulates a single key press. Mouse Recorder sends the virtual key code, scan code and extended key flag to the operating system. You can specify a separate key-down and key-up event to allow adding automation in between.

You may want to replace longer key press sequences of recorded text input with the Text input action as described below.

Text input

This action item combines multiple key press events to a text input event for easier macro editing.

To automate entering long phrases we strongly recommend using the Text Expander PhraseExpress instead.

Wait time

Pauses macro playback for the specified time in milliseconds.

The time required to load a web page or to perform a computation differ between computer and other factors, such as power saving modes or current CPU load. Specify wait times long enough to make sure that the slowest computer is able to keep up. Whenever possible, you should replace any wait time item in your macro list with the pixel color detection.

For those, who took too many naps in school: 1 second = 1,000 milliseconds. 1 minute = 60,000 milliseconds.

Wait for pixel color

Pauses the macro playback until the color of a pixel changes to the specified color.

Most actions cause windows, buttons, labels or images to appear or to change. All such visuals consists of pixels of different colors. Colors change depending on the actual image or state of a button, etc.

For example, the "favicon" (Wikipedia) of your browser window is a very good indicator that loading a web page has finished. Use the "Wait for pixel color" macro item to monitor a pixel of such favicon for a specific color to make Mouse Recorder wait before it continues with the automation.

This function maximizes the automation speed while assuring that even the slowest computers is able to keep up with the macro.

Recommended procedure:

  1. Record a performance.
  2. Browse the macro list for wait events.
  3. Check which pixel consistently changes color before/after the wait event.
  4. Replace the wait time with a corresponding pixel color detection.
  5. Optionally add extra wait times after pixel color detection items if the macro executes too fast for the 3rd party application.

The time-out section provides fallback options if the monitored color does not appear within the configured wait time. The macro execution can either abort, repeat from scratch or ignore the no-show of the color and just continue.

Window change

Waits for the appearance of a window, defined by its window title and class. You can leave either entry empty or use * as a placeholder in the window title/class text string.

This macro function restores the windows dimensions and position if differing from the dimensions at the time of the macro recording to ensure that all recorded mouse actions fit. Macro playback will cancel if the window cannot be restored to the required size.

Macro actions following a window change are visually grouped by a customizable background color for better readability.

The time-out section provides fallback options if the window does not appear within the configured wait time. The macro execution can either abort, repeat from scratch or ignore the no-show of the color and just continue.

Saving and loading macros

Macros can be saved on your hard drive for later use:

Load a macro

File openUse "File/Open" to load a recorded macro into Mouse Recorder. Mouse Recorder macro files have the file extension ".mrf" (abbreviation for "Mouse Recorder File")

Alternatively, double-click a saved Mouse Recorder file to open it in Mouse Recorder.

Save a recorded macro

Save AsTo save a recorded macros to your computer, use "File/Save As".

Mouse Recorder files automatically get the file extension ".mrf" (abbreviation for "Mouse Recorder File").

Macro files contain the entire recorded sequence regardless of any current filter setting. This means, that the macro file may contain more automation information than currently being displayed.

Export to PhraseExpress

The real power of Mouse Recorder comes with its integration with the popular Text Expander for Windows, PhraseExpress:

  • Organize macros in a customizable tree hierarchy.
  • Trigger macros by hotkeys or autotext.
  • Link, nest, combine macros.
  • Add PhraseExpress specific macro functions (such as conditional statements, string operations, math calculations, etc) to your macros.
  • Share macros in the network with a professional client-/server architecture.

Send to PhraseExpressTo export a recorded macro, select "File" » "Transfer to PhraseExpress" or press the PhraseExpress icon in the ribbon.

Mouse Recorder prompts you to enter a name for the macro and trigger PhraseExpress to create a new phrase.

This new phrase consists of a single macro function {#MOUSERECORDER name} that represents the recording. The recording data is embedded in the phrase file/database and invisible in PhraseExpress. This new phrase can be used in PhraseExpress like any other phrase. You can add any other PhraseExpress macro functions before or after the {#MOUSERECORDER …} macro function or use multiple Mouse Recorder macro functions within the same phrase.

Mouse Recorder exports the actions including filter and playback settings. Double-click the macro function in PhraseExpress to edit the macro in Mouse Recorder.

PhraseExpress launches Mouse Recorder in the background if a phrase contains a Mouse Recorder automation.

Program settings

SettingsClick "File" » "Settings" to open the program settings.

Recording settings

Save mouse paths

By default, Mouse Recorder does record the paths between two clicks. If you don't need the movements for your automation tasks, you can disable tracking the actual path to minimize the macro file size.

Automations may depend on mouse hover events in your 3rd party application. If the automation does only playback clicks without the mouse movements, no such mouse hover events will be triggered, such as menus that appear if you hover with the mouse over icons, etc.

If not sure, keep this setting enabled and filter mouse paths for playback later.

Minimum mouse delta

Windows defines the mouse position by X-/Y-coordinates. To record mouse actions, Mouse Recorder takes X/Y samples of the mouse position in time intervals if the mouse is moved for a minimum required distance as defined with the parameter "Minimum mouse delta".

Decrease this value to record precise drawing actions. As even tiny mouse movements are recognized, many macro actions will be recorded which significantly increases macro recording file size.

Low mouse delta parameter values reduce the number of coordinates recorded to recreate the mouse movement.

High mouse delta value increases accuracy of the mouse recording.

This setting is relevant if you playback the recordings using the playback option "playback as recorded".

It also affects the macro script auto-optimizer: A mouse button press down and up event is not combined into a single click event if small mouse movements in between exceed this minimum mouse delta.

Mouse sensitivity

"Mouse sensitivity" determines the sample time rate Mouse Recorder is using to check the current mouse position. The higher the sample-rate, the higher the accuracy of the mouse recording.

You only need to lower this value if you experience that Mouse Recorder slows down the computer.

Keyboard recording settings

A computer recognizes if you press down a key and if you release it as abstract and distinctive actions. The operating system interpret such key strokes and map the keys to a specific character, depending on the currently selected keyboard layout (see Wikipedia for details).

Depending on how you wish to use the recording, you can configure Mouse Recorder how to interpret and record key strokes. Mouse Recorder can combine key strokes and save just output char or even a chunk of text.

Option "Save keys as characters if possible" saves the characters as they are interpreted by the operating system with the current keyboard layout at the time of recording. This makes the recording independent of the currently selected keyboard layout setting.

Option "Save characters as text" combine multiple characters into a chunk of text which is output as fast as possible on playback.

Option "Ignore multiple modifier key down events" eliminates continues key down events while pressing hotkeys during macro recording. Disable this option for example when recording games (which may interpret such repetitive key down events).

Miscellaneous

Parameter "Minimum wait time" defines the minimum time required to add a new action item in the recording. Example: If you move the mouse, make a pause and then continue to move the mouse, the parameter determines that the pause causes the action to break into two separate mouse movements.

Playback settings

Block keys

The option "Block keys" blocks any keyboard input during playback.

Pause on mouse move / key press

"Pause on mouse move" stops macro playback in the moment you move the mouse.

"Pause on key press" stops playback if you press any key.

Restore mouse position after playback

This option restores the mouse cursor position where it was right before you started the playback.

Fix target window size

Mouse Recorder stores the window size and position for each 3rd party program window you are controlling while you record a macro. The option "Fix target window size if possible" tries to resize and reposition those windows if they have been moved into another position in the meantime or if the macro is executed on another computer. Macro playback is aborted if the window could not be found or if the monitor size is too small for the required windows size.

Use relative mouse positions

Mouse Recorder controls the mouse cursor by sending absolute coordinates to Windows, e.g. (x=100px, y=200px). A few CAD programs or games only work with relative coordinates which define mouse positions relative to the previous mouse positions.

Hotkey settings

Hotkeys allow you to start/stop macro recording and playback without the need to open the main program window.

Mouse Recorder can stay minimized to eliminate any interference with your actual automation task and to save desktop real estate.

We strongly recommend to use a key together with a combination of the SHIFT, ALT and/or CTRL key, e.g. CTRL-ALT-F9.

 

List of Mouse Recorder related files

Following list of Mouse Recorder related program files is for users interested in technical details only:

File name Explanation

MouseRecorder.exe

Main program file with the user interface and the macro record/playback engine.

mrkey.dll

Keyboard/mouse system hook that reads your keyboard input and mouse movements.

"Security" programs may falsely identify this file as a malicious keylogger. You can safely ignore such false alarm.

mrlang.dll

Language resource file that includes all text of the user interface.

unins000.exe, unins000.dat

Files created by the installation program that carries information what to remove from your system if you decide to uninstall Mouse Recorder.

C:\ProgramData]\
MouseRecorder\
config.xml

Configuration file that stores all program settings.

Uninstall Mouse Recorder

Exit the Mouse Recorder program if it is still running and remove the software with the operating system feature to remove programs (please refer to the OS documentation for more information).

If the Uninstaller informs the user that Mouse Recorder is still running while there is no Mouse Recorder tray icon, then press CTRL-SHIFT-ESC to open the task manager, switch to the tab "Processes", click "Show processes from all users", highlight the process 'MouseRecorder.exe' and force the program to quit by clicking on the 'End Process' button.

If running Mouse Recorder from a USB stick, simply delete the program folder that holds all Mouse Recorder program files.