In theory PCs really should make you more productive, but it doesn't always feel that way. All too often you'll find yourself following the same sequence of steps, running this program then that, choosing the same options, on the same dialog boxes, over and over again.
Sounds familiar? AutoIt can help. It's a BASIC-like scripting language that you can use to launch programs, then control them with simulated keystrokes and mouse actions to do just about anything you like.
AutoIt is quite easy to learn, but if you've no programming experience then you could just start by using it as a macro recorder. If you want to automate some process in Word, for instance, then you can get AutoIt to launch it for you, and record every mouse movement and click you make. When you've finished, stop recording and the program will automatically create an AutoIt script to perform the action you've just created.
Powerful functions then help enhance your scripts with the minimum of effort. Want to automatically download a file, for instance? A line like InetGet("http://www.domain.com/folder/file.exe", "c:\downloads\file.exe") will fetch it for you. Backing up a complete folder structure can be done with DirCopy("c:\users\documents", "d:\backups"). And a host of desktop management commands can rearrange your windows, set their transparency, resize them, close applications you don't need, and a whole lot more.
Best of all, your scripts can be compiled into stand-alone executables in just two or three clicks. They'll then run on just about any PC, with no need to install the .NET framework or any other cumbersome runtime files.