Macro

(1) A symbol, name, or key that represents a list of commands, actions, or keystrokes. Many programs allow you to create macros so that you can enter a single character or word to perform a whole series of actions. Suppose, for example, that you are editing a file and want to indent every third line five spaces. If your word processor supports macros, you can create one that consists of the following keystrokes:

Move Cursor to Beginning of Line

Move Cursor Down 1 Line

Move Cursor Down 1 Line

Move Cursor Down 1 Line

Insert5 Spaces

Now you can enter the name of the macro, and the word processor will perform all these commands at once.

You can also use macros to enter words or phrases that you use frequently. For example, you could define a macro to contain all the keystrokes necessary to begin a letter — your name, address, and a code that inserts the current date. Then, whenever you write a letter, you just press the macro key to include the letter header.

In a way, macros are like simple programs or batch files. Some applications support sophisticated macros that even allow you to use variables and flow control structures such as loops.

(2) In dBASE programs, a macro is a variable that points to another variable where the data is actually stored. In most other applications, this would be called a link.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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