What Is A Macro? Does Anyone Really Care?

by : Rafael Van Dyke

Some of you have never heard of the term “macro"; and if you have, you may not know what it means. First, we’re going to share with you what a macro; and afterwards, we’ll share with you why you may or may not need to start using them.

In the early stages of word processing programs, macros were used to record a series of keystrokes that can be reused quickly in all of your documents. Macros were an excellent way to automate tasks that you needed on a regular basis like signing letters, recalling a paragraph used often, or setting up special page settings. When these programs came out with Windows versions, you could record mouse clicks in addition to keystrokes; Microsoft Word 97-2002 can even memorize commands whether you use a button, a menu, or a keystroke.

Sounds cool don’t it? Let’s make one in Microsoft Word. To start, go to Tools menu ~ Macro ~ Record New Macro. Give you macro a name that describes what the macro will do; then make it a button or a keystroke by clicking on the Toolbars or Keyboard button. Your mouse arrow with have a tape attached to it to let you know that you’re recording; when you’ve done everything you wanted to save, click on the Stop button. And when you’re ready, try out your macro with your button or keystroke and it will repeat the commands that you recorded previously.

Definitely cool, right? So if they’re so cool, why aren’t more people using macros? As we mentioned before, a lot of users just aren’t familiar enough with macros to use them on a regular basis. And even if you’re a power user of Microsoft Word, most of time macros aren’t necessary because of the new tools that are available.

To bring up huge blocks of text quickly, it’s easier to use AutoText rather than a macro; not to mention that it’s faster now that AutoText can be called automatically and completed on the fly - you can even launch them from a button. You don’t need a macro to save your page settings or to start off your commonly used documents anymore; you just simply create a template for that (or use one of the templates that comes with Microsoft Word – like the Letter Wizard). And if you want to copy text formatting to other blocks of text, you’ll use the Format Painter … not a macro.

With all of these great tools that have replaced need to use macros for common tasks, the last question is what exactly would you use them for nowadays? Though some may find a few isolated cases to use one, a macro is mainly a tool mainly for programmers. So unless you find yourself needing to create an automation solution in Visual BasicScience Articles, macros should become a thing of the past. But it’s nice to know that they’re available … just in case!