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Automate the Boring Stuff with Python Programming

A practical programming course for office workers, academics, and administrators who want to improve their productivity.
Al Sweigart
523,469 students enrolled
English More
Automate tasks on their computer by writing simple Python programs.
Write programs that can do text pattern recognition with "regular expressions".
Programmatically generate and update Excel spreadsheets.
Parse PDFs and Word documents.
Crawl web sites and pull information from online sources.
Write programs that send out email notifications.
Use Python's debugging tools to quickly figure out bugs in your code.
Programmatically control the mouse and keyboard to click and type for you.

If you’re an office worker, student, administrator, or just want to become more productive with your computer, programming will allow you write code that can automate tedious tasks. This course follows the popular (and free!) book, Automate the Boring Stuff with Python.

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python was written for people who want to get up to speed writing small programs that do practical tasks as soon as possible. You don’t need to know sorting algorithms or object-oriented programming, so this course skips all the computer science and concentrates on writing code that gets stuff done.

This course is for complete beginners and covers the popular Python programming language. You’ll learn basic concepts as well as:

  • Web scraping
  • Parsing PDFs and Excel spreadsheets
  • Automating the keyboard and mouse
  • Sending emails and texts
  • And several other practical topics

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to write code that not only dramatically increases your productivity, but also be able to list this fun and creative skill on your resume.

Python Basics

Get Python Installed

This lecture explains what programming is good for, even if you don't intend to become a software engineer. At the end of this lecture, you'll be able to download and install Python and be ready to learn to code.

Just a check in.

This quiz is here just to ensure you know about the website where you can find the Automate the Boring Stuff with Python book for free: https://automatetheboringstuff.com.

You don't need to purchase the book, and you can read it online if you want more information on the topics in this course.

Basic Terminology and Using IDLE

The student will learn how to put values and operators together to form expressions, the most basic instruction type in Python.

Writing Our First Program

Now that you've done some basic instructions in the interactive shell, let's use the file editor to write a complete program.

Flow Control

Flow Charts and Basic Flow Control Concepts

You've made Python execute instructions, now learn how to make Python choose which instructions to execute.

If, Else, and Elif Statements

The if/else statements are the basic instruction for letting your Python programs make decisions.

While Loops

Loops allow your program to execute the same code over and over again.

For Loops

The while loop will execute the same code over and over as long as some condition is true, but for loops allow you to execute a set number of iterations of a loop.


Python's Built-In Functions

You don't have to write every bit of code yourself. Python comes with several functions that your program can call to leverage the code that others have written.

Writing Your Own Functions

You aren't limited to the functions that come with Python. You can define your own functions using the def statement. Grouping code into functions helps make your programs shorter and easier to debug.

Global and Local Scopes

Functions also introduce the concept of scopes. Learn the difference between global scope and local scopes for variables.

Handling Errors with try/except

Try and Except Statements

Instead of crashing, you can have your programs gracefully handle errors as they come up.

Writing a Complete Program: Guess the Number

Writing a "Guess the Number" Program

You've learned several basic programming concepts. Let's apply them to make a simple "Guess the Number" game.


The List Data Type

Lists are values that themselves can contain multiple values. Learn how lists can expand your programs' capabilities.

For Loops with Lists, Multiple Assignment, and Augmented Operators

There are several instructions that can be used with lists. This lecture introduces multiple assignment and revisits for loops.

List Methods

You don't have to write basic operations from scratch. Instead, learn about the methods that the list data type already comes with.

Similarities Between Lists and Strings

Most of the things you've learned about lists also apply to strings. Two for one!


The Dictionary Data Type

Dictionaries also can contain multiple values. By using key-value pairs, you can begin to organize large amounts of data.

Data Structures

Dictionaries and lists can contain multiple values, including other dictionaries and lists. Combining them together you can organize your data into data structures.

More About Strings

Advanced String Syntax

There's much more to strings than concatenating and printing them. This lecture covers the other ways that strings can be represented in your Python code and why you would use these alternate forms.

String Methods

There are lots of useful and common things you'll want to do with strings, but you don't have to write the code to do them yourself. Python comes with string methods for many basic operations.

String Formatting

String concatenation can become a mess of characters that makes your code hard to read. String formatting offers a simpler way to put strings together.

Running Programs from the Command Line

Launching Python Programs from Outside IDLE

Once your programs are finished, you won't always want to launch IDLE every time you want to run them. This lecture covers how to create shortcuts for your programs on Windows. Mac and Linux are covered in the course notes.

Regular Expressions

Regular Expression Basics

Regular expressions offer a way to not only search for text, but to search for patterns of text. This is a large step in increasing the power of your programs.

Regex Groups and the Pipe Character

In this lesson, you learn how the pipe regex character allows you to search for one of multiple patterns.

Repetition in Regex Patterns and Greedy/Nongreedy Matching

In this lesson, you'll learn how to find repeating patterns and know the difference between regular expressions that do greedy-matching and nongreedy-matching.

Regex Character Classes and the findall() Method

While the familiar search() method returns the first match of the regex's pattern, the findall() method returns all matches of the pattern. This lesson also explores character classes: a handy shortcut for specifying alternatives in regex pattern.

Regex Dot-Star and the Caret/Dollar Characters

The regex dot-star is a common "catch all" pattern that you can use in your regular expressions. This lesson also explores matching patterns at the start or end of a string.

Regex sub() Method and Verbose Mode

Regular expressions can not only find text patterns, but can also perform fin-and-replace for text patterns. The sub() method lets us make these text substitutions.

Regex Example Program: A Phone and Email Scraper

At this point, we'll combine our knowledge of regular expressions to create a script that can pull phone numbers and email addresses out of a document.


Filenames and Absolute/Relative File Paths

Files are stored in a hierarchical system of folders on your hard drive. In this lesson, you'll learn how to refer to specific files through absolute and relative file paths.

Reading and Writing Plaintext Files

Python lets you write out text to files and read text in from files. This allows you to have data from your programs persist even after they've shut down.

Copying and Moving Files and Folders

Python can copy, move, and rename files with your given criteria much faster than you could do this by dragging file icons in a File Explorer program. This lesson covers functions to perform basic file operations.

Deleting Files

Writing scripts to delete files can be a useful, but dangerous, feature to add to your programs. This lesson teaches you how you can keep bugs in your programs from causing any real damage.

Walking a Directory Tree

"Walking a directory tree" is performing file operations not just on every file in a folder, but every file in every subfolder of that folder, and every subfolder of those subfolders, and so on. Normally this requires learning about recursion, but Python's os.walk() function makes this easy.


The raise and assert Statements

Assertions allow you to add "sanity checks" to your code. They won't fix bugs, but they will detect them early on and make the fix easier.


It's tempting to just add print() calls to help debug your programs, but Python's logging module offers a more powerful and convenient way to display debugging information.

Using the Debugger

All software developers eventually write bugs into their programs. The debugger is the main tool for finding and fixing bugs in every programmer's toolbox.

Web Scraping

The webbrowser Module

In this lesson, you'll learn about Python's webbrowser module. Although it's limited to opening up browser windows, this lesson explores how this can be used in a handy map script.

Downloading from the Web with the Requests Module

Being on the computer often means being on the internet. In this lesson, you'll learn how to use the Requests module to download files from the web.

Parsing HTML with the Beautiful Soup Module

While regular expressions are good for general text, the HTML-formatted text that make up the web pages your programs can download requires something more specific. The Beautiful Soup module has functions are locating information on a web page and extracting it for your programs.

Controlling the Browser with the Selenium Module

The Selenium module provides the ultimate web scraping tool: it launches a browser that is controllable from your Python code.

Excel, Word, and PDF Documents

Reading Excel Spreadsheets

Excel spreadsheets can be read just like any other file. In this lesson, you'll use the OpenPyXL module to extract data from spreadsheets.

Editing Excel Spreadsheets

This lesson continues with the OpenPyXL module to create or edit Excel spreadsheets.

Reading and Editing PDFs

PDFs are a ubiquitous format for reports and business information. In this lesson you'll learn how to make your Python programs interact with PDF files.

Reading and Editing Word Documents

Python can read and modify Word documents, including Word's styles and text-formatting features.


Sending Emails

Your Python scripts can automatically send out emails. This is a great for adding a notification feature to your programs so you can leave them running while you're away from your computer.

Checking Your Email Inbox

Python scripts can also log in to your email accounts for you to check your inbox and retrieve messages on your behalf.

GUI Automation

Controlling the Mouse from Python

When there's no other way to programmatically control an app on your computer, your Python scripts can take control of the mouse and keyboard to automate clicking and typing for you.

Controlling the Keyboard from Python

This lesson continues GUI automation by exploring how Python can control the keyboard.

Screenshots and Image Recognition

While controlling the mouse and keyboard for input is great, your scripts will be blind until they can read the screen. This lesson covers PyAutoGUI's image recognition functions, and shows off a game-playing bot that you could make from the things you learned in the last three lessons.

Congratulations! (And next steps...)

You've made it to the end of the course. This lecture has further reading that you can continue your programming journey with.

You can view and review the lecture materials indefinitely, like an on-demand channel.
Definitely! If you have an internet connection, courses on Udemy are available on any device at any time. If you don't have an internet connection, some instructors also let their students download course lectures. That's up to the instructor though, so make sure you get on their good side!
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Tuesday9:30 am - 6.00 pm
Wednesday9:30 am - 6.00 pm
Thursday9:30 am - 6.00 pm
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