Power Automate Cloud and Power Automate Desktop (PAD) are no-code or low-code apps to automate repetitive manual tasks to help you work more efficiently. Power Automate and Power Automate Desktop sound similar, right? And they do share characteristics, being examples of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) software, which aims to make a computer perform repetitive processes or tasks that would normally be performed by a human. However, there are big differences between the two software applications:

Desktop automation

Power Automate Desktop is a free tool for Windows 10 users to download and install. If you are using Windows 11, it will even come pre-installed. It is a program that performs robotic process automation (RPA). Think about the work you do on your computer or website. It could be a scenario like c Data stuck in Excel spreadsheet:

Using a legacy system to enter data and perform tasks (an application without an API to connect to other modern systems). This could be anything you use to process invoices and sales orders, manage staff, or track customer information.

  • Using CMD to Run Commands
  • Retrieving text from the clipboard
  • Using an IMAP or Exchange server to interact with email messages
  • SQL statements are executed.
  • Retrieving a file from a web page
  • Using Windows Explorer
  • program launch
  • Scripts in PowerShell

You can record the steps you take to complete these operations using Power Automate Desktop. Every click on the screen, the words you type, and your movements on the keyboard can be recorded and corrected. This results in flow steps. You can simply press the start button every time you need to complete a task, and the task will complete itself, saving you time.

Cloud automation

You can create cloud and business process flows in Power Automate, which can be accessed online. You have access to over 500 cloud connectors and templates, and the ability to automate processes across all of these more modern systems. Typical tasks include:

  • Use Microsoft Teams to send a message
  • Approval processes can be automated
  • Using Scheduler to create tasks
  • Getting weather information
  • In Dataverse you can update a row

If you're not sure whether you should use Power Automate (web) or Power Automate Desktop, consider the system you want to connect to. Try recording your flow in Power Automate Desktop if it is not available or cannot be created as a connector (without API).


Power Automate Desktop and Power Automate are designed to work together. In Power Automate (web), you can connect to flows created in Power Automate Desktop, allowing you to integrate modern cloud systems with everything else you can do on your computer. This means you can create a pipeline that combines DPA (Digital Process Automation), RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and AI.

You can simply install a local data gateway on your computer. Then in Power Automate (web), you can create your cloud flow as usual and use the desktop flow connector to connect to the flows you created in Power Automate Desktop.


  • If you're constantly connected to Teams, OneDrive, and SharePoint, be sure to consider adopting Power Automate for your chance to make your work life much more efficient.
  • If you're the type of person who writes a macro in Excel to automate any task you have to do more than once, I'd definitely look into Power Automate Desktop.

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