10 top tools to automate repetitive tasks

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Anyone who's performed the same mindless task more than a dozen times will know the benefits of finding some tool to do the job for you.

After all, why take five minutes to perform a set of repetitive commands when you might be able to press a single button, sit back and watch the task whizz by?

We've dug out 10 free tools that are designed to do the hard work, so you don't have to. Sit back, press a button, and enjoy...

1. FastStone Photo Resizer

Don't be fooled by the name, FastStone Photo Resizer does more than simply resize photos. Tick the boxes to rename or convert between various formats. If that's not enough, enable the advanced options and you can also resize, change canvas size, crop and rotate your photos, plus add watermarks, border effects and apply various adjustments (such as gamma or brightness).

In short, everything you could possibly need for bulk photo processing. It's free for personal use and just $19.95 for commercial use.

FastStone resizer

2. Phrase Express

Ever wished you could apply AutoText outside of Microsoft Office? Phrase Express enables you to do just that. Unlike AutoText you can assign keyboard shortcuts to your favourite text shortcuts, use a scripting language to produce more complicated macros, and there's a nifty predictive text option that throws up suggestions based on what it detects you're typing. Again, it's only free for personal use – prices start from US$29.95.

Phrase express

3. Format Factory

There are plenty of free tools for converting audio, video and photos between different formats, but Format Factory is unique in handling all three types with aplomb. Better still, it can mix and match different processing tasks in one batch, so you choose your files and how you want them converted, then leave it to its own devices.

Format factory

4. Rename Master

If you find yourself facing the mind-numbing prospects of renaming a group of files, Rename Master will do the job for you in a fraction of the time. You can add, remove, append or replace part or all of the filename easily, and a built-in preview means you can easily exactly what you'll get before committing to the change.

Rename master

5. Quick Search & Replace

One of the drawbacks of find and replace is that it only works on the currently open file. Quick Search & Replace enables you to search entire folders or drives for matching text strings in ASCII file - use wildcards to limit your search to specific files or types – then use the Search & Replace tab to make sweeping changes quickly.

Search and replace