Automating tasks with AutoIt



AutoIT is an alternative to applications like AutoHotKey to automate tasks through hotkeys/hotstrings and drive GUI applications. It used to be open-source AutoHotKey was forked from AutoIT around 2005 , but was closed-source later and is now freeware.

Its syntax looks like BASIC, while AHK is closer to C. AHK is updated frequently, while the latest release of AutoIt was in March 2018 with release

In addition to native features, AutoIT is enhanced through User Defined Functions (UDFs).

Note that a plain "Hello, World!" with a MessageBox is about 1MB, but its size can be halved through UPX. It can also be an alternative to (Power|Pure|Free)Basic for small applications without the weight of .Net.

Getting Started

In addition to the AutoIt.chm help file which is the offline version of the online doco , the wiki, and the forum, information can also be found in Valuater's "Welcome to AutoIt 1-2-3", "Program on Windows Using FREE Tools" by Jayme Fishman (2015), "Learning to Script with AutoIt V3" by Alex Peters, updated by Brett Francis (2010), and Andy Flesner's AutoIt v3: Your Quick Guide (2007).

As of version, AutoIT consists in the following programs:

To install UDFs, if you're using SciTE4AutoIt3, it's better to create a new directory outside the AutoIT folder so that the files aren't affected when upgrading AutoIT. To tell SciTE to find those files, use Tools > SciTE Config, and fill the "User Include Folders" in the "General 1" tab.

Sample code

It's a good idea to set the following option in all scripts: Opt('MustDeclareVars', 1)

Hello, world!

#include <MsgBoxConstants.au3>

MsgBox($MB_OK, "Tutorial", "Hello World!")

Find a window


To record an action

Go to \Extras\Au3Record\, and launch Au3Record.exe to record an action that Au3Record will then save as source code that you can use in your scripts.

Caution: Code generated Au3Record isn't always reliable, as some functions won't work. YMMV.

Note: _WinWaitActivate() is not part of AutoIT; Its code found below must be included in the script.

Note: "AutoIt Recorder utility is not available from AutoIt Version" (source)

To find information about a window

Use install\Au3Info.exe.

Check UIASpy - UI Automation Spy Tool

Driving a web application

The WebDriver UDF makes it possible to interact with a web browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) through an API instead of its UI.


Important: All the required files above must be unzipped at the root of your "User Include Folder", ie. where you keep your personal UDF files, so that wd_demo.au3 can find them It won't look in sub-directories.


The wd_demo.au3 is used to check that everything works OK, while wd_core.au3 and wd_helper.au3 contain code that you need to drive a browser.

As of April 2021, there seems to be no tutorial. To learn how to use the WebDriver UDF:

Interacting with DOS application



NO TUTORIAL ON DOS Learning to Script with AutoIt V3 (Last Updated 17 Feb 2010).zip






Run(@ComSpec & " /k c:\program files\deltacopy\rsync.exe -v")

Just replace the /K with /C when it works to have the window closed automatically and look at the other options when you want the window not to appear at all.












Accessing Outlook


$oOutlook = ObjCreate("Outlook.Application")

OutlookEX UDF

After installing OutlookEX UDF per its Readme, run Outlook, and use the following script to read the data from its To-Do List panel, sorted through Last Modified:

#include "OutlookEX.au3"
Global $oOutlook = _OL_Open()
If @error <> 0 Then Exit MsgBox(16, "OutlookEX UDF", "Error creating a connection to Outlook. @error = " & @error & ", @extended = " & @extended)
$aFolder = _OL_FolderAccess($oOutlook, "", $olFolderToDo)
Global $aResult = _OL_ItemFind($oOutlook, $aFolder[1], $olTask, "", "", "", "EntryID,Subject,LastModificationTime")
If @error Then
    MsgBox(16, "OutlookEX UDF - _OL_ItemSearch Example Script", "Error running _OL_ItemSearch. @error = " & @error & ", @extended = " & @extended)

Editing Contacts in Outlook with OutlookEX

  1. Download and unzip the latest release of OutlookEx UDF (help thread and wiki)
  2. Copy OutlookEX.au3 and OutlookEXConstants.au3 into AutoIt3\Include
  3. If using the Scite editor, copy au3.user.calltips.api into AutoIt3\SciTE\api (append if file already exists), and copy into AutoIt3\SciTE\properties (ditto)
  4. Launch Outlook
  5. Run this code:

To use control keys






To set/get clipboard contents

#include <Constants.au3>

#include <MsgBoxConstants.au3>

#include <Date.au3>


Local $sClipboard = ClipGet()

MsgBox($MB_SYSTEMMODAL, "Clipboard", $sClipboard)

How to interact with controls

Besides the Control*() functions, there are also: StatusbarGetText, WinActivate, WinGetClassList, WinMenuSelectItem.

ControlSend("Untitled - Notepad", "", "[CLASSNN:Edit1]", "This is some text")

ControlSetText("My Window", "", "[NAME:textBoxFolder]", "C:\Some\Folder")

ControlClick("My Window", "", "[ID:254]")

ControlClick("My Window", "", "[CLASS:Button; TEXT:Finish; INSTANCE:2]")

Note: ControlSetText() sometimes doesn't work as expected; If that case, try ControlSend() instead.

To edit a script

Launch the SciTE editor in install\SciTe\SciTE.exe, where you can copy-paste the action you just recorded with Au3Record.exe.

Difference between native WinWaitActive() and external _WinWaitActivate()?

In SciTE-Lite's Tools menu, what's the difference between Compile and Build?

Why doesn't Scite-Lite Compile/Build find syntax errors such as missing closing bracket?

For/Next Loop

For $i = 5 To 1 Step -1

    MsgBox($MB_SYSTEMMODAL, "", "Count down!" & @CRLF & $i)


To comment a line

Use ";"

To comment a block of text



If using the AutoIT-provided SciTE editor, select the block of text, and hit Edit > Stream Comment

To display a messagebox

MsgBox(64, "My title", "My text")

To find a window with just part of title/text

Opt("WinTitleMatchMode", 1) ;1=start, 2=subStr, 3=exact, 4=advanced, -1 to -4=Nocase

More information here.

To put the focus on combobox

Locating a window with partial text

Note: You may use Opt() as an alternative to AutoItSetOption().

AutoItSetOption ("WinTitleMatchMode",2)
Opt("WinTitleMatchMode", 1) ;1=start, 2=subStr, 3=exact, 4=advanced, -1 to -4=Nocase

To handle time-out when a window doesn't show

Func _WinWaitActivate($title,$text,$timeout=0)

        $result = WinWait($title,$text,$timeout)

        if $result = False Then

                MsgBox(16,"Bad...","Window not displayed")




        If Not WinActive($title,$text) Then WinActivate($title,$text)



To pause for a few seconds

Sleep(1000) ; sleep for 1s

To move the mouse at the center of the screen

#include <Misc.au3>

CHECK MouseMove(@DesktopWidth/2, @DesktopHeight/2)

To send keys to window/control

(only as last resort)


To set or refer to the content of a variable: (Const/Global/Local/Dim) $myvar = "test"

To refer to environment variables: @ComputerName

To require explicit declaration of variables: Opt("MustDeclareVars", 1)

Including files

To include files: #include <myfile.au3>

To include an external file into the AutoIT output EXE la NSIS: FileInstall(Source,Destination[,flag])


The array.au3 UDF offers extended functions to handle arrays, eg. _ArrayDisplay($myarray)


For $index=1 to 1



To pause for one second:





Using SQLite


#include <SQLite.au3>

#include <SQLite.dll.au3>

Global $DB

_SQLite_Startup ()

$DB = _SQLite_Open("sqlite.db")

_SQLite_Exec($DB, "CREATE TABLE TABLE1 (Text);")

_SQLite_Exec($DB, "BEGIN;")

For $i = 1 to 1000 Step 1

    _SQLite_Exec($DB, "INSERT INTO TABLE1 VALUES ('Some text');")


_SQLite_Exec($DB, "COMMIT;")




#include <Array.au3>

#include <SQLite.au3>


_SQLite_Startup() ; Load the DLL

If @error Then Exit MsgBox(0, "Error", "Unable to start SQLite, Please verify your DLL")


Local $sDatabase = @ScriptDir & '\SQLiteTestDatabase.db'

Local $hDatabase = _SQLite_Open($sDatabase) ; Create the database file and get the handle for the database


_SQLite_Exec($hDatabase, 'CREATE TABLE People (first_name, last_name);') ; CREATE a TABLE with the name "People"

_SQLite_Exec($hDatabase, 'INSERT INTO People VALUES ("Timothy", "Lee");') ; INSERT "Timothy Lee" into the "People" TABLE


Local $aResult, $iRows, $iColumns ; $iRows and $iColuums are useless but they cannot be omitted from the function call so we declare them


_SQLite_GetTable2d($hDatabase, 'SELECT * FROM People;', $aResult, $iRows, $iColumns) ; SELECT everything FROM "People" TABLE and get the $aResult

_ArrayDisplay($aResult, "Results from the query")




Desktop shortcut

To run a desktop shortcut:


AutoIT can be used to write graphical applications. As of 2018, there are two ways to do this: Either by writing your own code directly, or by using any of the numerous GUI creators such as the Koda GUI designer (which is included in the AutoIT installer.)

AutoIT supports the following widgets:



Tools: Compile vs. Build vs. Go?

What's the difference between a window title and a window text?

Script built with Au3Record.exe doesn't run

myscript..au3 (1) : ==> Unknown function name.: _WinWaitActivate("classname=TfrmPref","")

If you just copy/paste the output instead of what's actually saved in a file, you'll be missing some User-defined functions (UDF) that Au3Record relies on:

#region --- Internal functions Au3Recorder Start ---
Func _Au3RecordSetup()
Func _WinWaitActivate($title,$text,$timeout=0)
        If Not WinActive($title,$text) Then WinActivate($title,$text)
#endregion --- Internal functions Au3Recorder End ---

Script built with Au3Record.exe can't find application window

There is a bug with release 3.3 which uses "classname=myclass" instead of "[CLASS:myclass]".

In SciTE, what's the difference between Compile, Build, and Go?

Compile displays a dialog to set options, while Build doesn't.

No PDF or CHM for tutorial?

How to handle time out? WinWaitActive("- Task", "",10)

Timeout = seconds or ms?

How to prevent compiling if undeclared variables?

WinWaitActive() vs. WinWaitActivate()?

How to leave an AutoIT script running in the icon bar, ready to pop up when hitting a given key sequence?


Send() can't identify a window

The Send() function sends a string to whatever window is active, ie. it's not possible to tell it to only send data to a specific window. So if you're using a loop, add a WinWaitActive() to make sure you're no sending stuff in a totally different window:

for $index = 1 to $pages
    ;Just to make sure we are sending keystrokes to the right window
    WinWaitActive("Acme - Iron")
    $url = "" & $index & "{ENTER}"
    ;Wait 5s. There might be a better way to check that page download has completed

Concatenating strings

You must use "&", not "+":

$myvar = "First line " & @CRLF & "Second line"


Here's how to clear the clipboard, and copy data to it:

#include <Clipboard.au3>


The PCRE regex engine that AutoIT uses is single-line by default. If you need to find a pattern in a multi-line string, you must tell PCRE explicitely:

"$array = StringRegExp($data, "(?mi)^(\d+) some text", 3)".

There is apparently no way to configure PCRE externely for the duration of a script, ie. without adding settings to every single pattern.

Here's how to extract the second part in a two-item string with a TAB delimiter:

$array = StringRegExp("John" & @TAB & "123", "\t(\d+)', 1)
for $i = 0 to UBound($array) - 1
    msgbox(0, "Items found", $array[0])