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VBA Visual Basic for Applications (Microsoft) FAQ

Office / VBA General

How to use SendKeys to imitate the keyboard
Posted: 15 Apr 04


If you perform the process using the keyboard you will note that things do not happen instantly on screen - especially the initial opening of a dialog box where the action takes place. The main problem with SendKeys is that the code usually runs faster than Windows can carry out the required activity  - this is especially so if manipulating an external (not the one with the code) application or opening a dialog box or menu. We therefore need to slow the action down by using Wait statements. SendKeys also has its own "Wait" argument True or False which needs to be used correctly.  One example of using it set to True is  when manipulating external applications that require extra time to carry out actions. This is not always sufficient, so extra code is required.

A big key to success in this area is to break down the process into small steps. It does need a bit of trial and error to get it right. Experience shows that operators are prepared to wait a bit longer if it works. Sometimes the speed of external applications varies so much that the job is impossible using SendKeys, when using API calls with KeyUp and KeyDown work better. This area is never an exact science. See VBA Help 'SendKeys' and 'Shell' for more information.

This is some sample code to demonstrate the principle :-
'------------------------------------------
Sub SET_A3()
    '- change Printer setting to A3 size
    '- nb. assumes current setting is A4
    Dim AltKey As String
    Dim CtrlKey As String
    Dim ShiftKey As String
    Dim TabKey As String
    Dim EnterKey As String
    '--------------------------
    AltKey = "%"
    CtrlKey = "^"
    ShiftKey = "+"
    TabKey = "{TAB}"
    EnterKey = "~"
    '--------------------------
    '- open print dialog
    SendKeys AltKey & "(FP)", False
    '- delay 1 second
    Application.Wait Now + TimeValue("00:00:01")
    '- open printer properties
    SendKeys AltKey & "(R)", False
    '- tab to paper size
    SendKeys TabKey, False
    SendKeys TabKey, False
    '- change A4 to A3
    SendKeys "{UP}", False
    '- Enter twice
    SendKeys EnterKey, False
    SendKeys EnterKey, False
End Sub
'----------------------------------------------



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