Create and test desktop UI flows
[This topic is pre-release documentation and is subject to change.]
Microsoft Flow is now Power Automate. For more information, see this blog.
This content will be updated to reflect the branding change in the coming days.
Please refer to the Known issues later in this topic to learn more about issues you might run into, workarounds for those issues, and scenarios that are not supported in this preview release.
Create a desktop UI flow
In the following steps, we'll demonstrate how to automate the calculator app to sum two numbers and then store the result for later use.
You can automate other Windows desktop apps by following a similar pattern.
Ensure your device is ready to create UI flows.
Select My flows > UI flows (preview) > New.
Choose Desktop app and then select Next.
Enter a name for your UI flow into the Flow name field, and then select Next.
Select Next at the bottom to skip the optional Set up inputs screen since we aren't using inputs in this walkthrough.
Select the Record app card to expand it.
Select Launch recorder.
The recorder control displays at the top of your screen.
Start the calculator app.
As your mouse hovers over controls in the app, you'll notice that a blue outline highlights each control. Always wait for the blue highlight before you select a control.
If the blue highlight doesn't display around the element, it might not be recorded properly.
Select Record from the recorder control.
Select the first number, select +, select the second number, and then select =.
You will improve automation reliability by:
- Opening and maximizing the apps you want to record before before you start recording
- Starting your recording with a click the app title bar to bring it in focus.
Select Done on the recorder control after you complete the actions you want to record.
Close the app that you recorded.
Select the card that starts with "Run
script" to view screenshots of the recorded steps.
Select ... > Delete to remove any duplicate steps.
Select Next to skip the optional Set up outputs step since we aren't using outputs in this walkthrough.
Test your UI flow by selecting the Test now button, and then watch your UI flow run.
For best results, do not interact with your device for the duration of playback.
- Select Save and exit to save your UI flow.
Learn how to trigger the UI flow you just created.
If you want to do more with UI flows, you can also try out UI flows with input and output parameters.
Known issues and solutions
Screenshots are currently lost after saving. We are working on a fix.
You may want to add a Close action at the end of your UI flow because UI flows launches a new instance of the applications with each test or run.
Select ... > Delete on the recorded actions card to remove any unnecessary/duplicate actions.
Right clicks may not play back correctly. In such case, while recording, click left to focus UI flows on the target user interface element, and then right click.
If UI flows no longer records or plays back Windows applications after installing a new version, uninstall the previous version and then install a new version.
Unsupported application types
Interactions on Windows (File explorer, startup menu, task bar, etc.).
Web browsers (Chrome, IE, Edge, Edge Chromium, Firefox, Mozilla, etc.). Please instead refer to Create a Web UI flow to automate websites.
Click once applications.
Applications with a Web view such as Electron applications.
Microsoft Office 2016 and earlier.
Microsoft Office online.
Recording through a virtual machine client (Remote Desktop, Citrix, etc.).
Multiple instances of an application where the main window titles are identical.
Application windows with identical titles, for example, Microsoft Outlook with multiple Untitled – Message (HTML) new mail windows active at the same time.
Concurrent recording sessions on a given device.
Concurrent playback sessions on a given device. In case of simultaneous UI flow runs, the first one takes precedence and the subsequent ones fail until the first one completes.
Playback on a device with a different keyboard layout than the device on which it was recorded.
Recording on a device or Windows session while the browser with Microsoft Flow is on a different device or Windows session.
Unsupported action types and behaviors
The following actions will not be recorded:
Click and drag.
Touch or pen input.
Open app before recording.
Unreliable behaviors and workarounds for Microsoft Office (desktop)
- Pin the ribbon before you begin playback to avoid issues that may occur if the ribbon is set to auto-hide during playback.
- Do not select items by clicking and dragging. For example, don't use shift-click to select cells in Microsoft Excel and don't select text in Microsoft Word or Microsoft PowerPoint by dragging the mouse.
- Some elements may not work correctly in UI flows (preview) for Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint Desktop applications. For instance, options on the File menu such as starting from blank, or right clicking controls like adding a paragraph in Microsoft Word or changing the layout of slides in Microsoft PowerPoint may not work.