My 8 Favorite Actions In Power Automate Desktop


In this article, I’d like to share the top 8 actions that I find the most useful in Power Automate Desktop (PAD). Those actions are based on my experience of course, so maybe yours are different 😉

If you have legacy applications with no API, complex processes using desktop apps, or want to get elements from a web page, then Power Automate Desktop does a fantastic job in all of that plus more!  

More on PAD
I do a lot of Power Automate Desktop videos on my YouTube channel if you’re interested to know more about it!


This is probably the most used category within Power Automate Desktop where you can manipulate your Excel files to a great extent, and there are more than 30 actions available for Excel alone.  


Other than the obvious actions you would expect like “Open Excel” or “Save Excel”, you’ll find some extremely useful ones like “Get first free row/column”, “Sort cells in Excel worksheet”, or even “Clear filters in Excel worksheet”.

Combine those actions with keys, shortcuts, copy & paste and you could almost do everything you want!

Which Excel?
In PAD there are now 2 categories for Excel. One is called just “Excel”: This is the one for the desktop app. The other one is called “Excel Online (Business): This is, as it says, for Excel Online and is a premium connector (with the diamond next to it).

Set Variable

Like any other programming language or tool, variables allow you store values for a period of time in a virtual “container” to be reused later. Here it’s no different - Set variable in Power Automate Desktop does the same thing.

When you set your variables, you also have the possibility to mark them as Sensitive. This means their values won’t be written in the logs, and also not visible in the flow editor.


App Secrets
There are some drawbacks to using Set Variable though - DO NOT use them for your App Secrets. If you wish to learn the best way to get your app secrets in the desktop flow, read my post here: How to protect your app secrets with PAD.

Another way to interact with variables in PAD is to use Input & Output variables.


I’ve made a full video just for that: Use variables like a Pro: Input & Output variables in PAD. Make sure to check it out to understand how to use this feature!

Get Special Folder

With this action (under the Folder category), you can grab a “special folder” from your machine. You can choose from a wide range of folders from the dropdown menu.
For example, you need the path to the “Program Files” or “Desktop” folder. Well, just select that “special” folder and the full path will be automatically populated. So useful! 😎



Invoke Web Service

This action is under the HTTP category. And you can connect to many APIs if your desktop flow process requires it, or if an action is not natively there yet.


Premium connectors?
Assuming you’re dealing with your Microsoft 365 data, you could use Invoke Web Service instead of a premium connector if what you trying to achieve is available in the Graph API. Haven’t tried everything myself, but I successfully created an item in SharePoint with this action instead of the dreaded diamond!



Often in your automation, you may find that your flow is failing because it cannot find the element it’s supposed to. Those 3 actions below are very useful to make sure that the flow is grabing the element needed and not buried under all your opened tabs and windows!

  • Focus text field in window
  • Focus window
  • Focus text field in web page

Get File Path Part

Another efficient action. Using this will “disect” the path you enter, and produce multiple variables for you to use later. That’s pretty time saver instead of spliting or concatenating 😅



Mouse & Keyboard

Although this is a category, there are just so many useful actions in there. But my favorites would be:

  • Send keys
  • Send mouse click
  • Mouse mouse to image

They’re self explanatory, and the ability to run shortcuts using the “Send keys” action is just great. Love it.


For some reason, under the “Variables” category, there are 2 actions regarding the JSON format:

  • Convert JSON to custom object
  • Convert custom object to JSON

Now they’re obviously super useful, but why under the Variables category is a mystery to me 🤔
Anywho, the fact that we need to manipulate some (or most) of the data in our processes is extremely common. So having both ways with those actions is perfect.


Frankly, I think that 90% of all the actions in Power Automate Desktop are super useful. The ones above are just my favorites.
Others like date & time, file compression, UI automation, error handling, or even running a script are just part of a loooooong list to help make your processes more efficient!