Manual patch clamp, the gold standard of electrophysiology, represents a powerful and versatile toolbox to stimulate, modulate, and record ion channel activity from membrane fragments and whole cells. The electrophysiological readout can be combined with fluorescent or optogenetic methods and allows for ultrafast solution exchanges using specialized microfluidic tools. A hallmark of manual patch clamp is the intentional selection of individual cells for recording, often an essential prerequisite to generate meaningful data. So far, available automation solutions rely on random cell usage in the closed environment of a chip and thus sacrifice much of this versatility by design. To parallelize and automate the traditional patch clamp technique while perpetuating the full versatility of the method, we developed an approach to automation, which is based on active cell handling and targeted electrode placement rather than on random processes. This is achieved through an automated pipette positioning system, which guides the tips of recording pipettes with micrometer precision to a microfluidic cell handling device. Using a patch pipette array mounted on a conventional micromanipulator, our automated patch clamp process mimics the original manual patch clamp as closely as possible, yet achieving a configuration where recordings are obtained from many patch electrodes in parallel. In addition, our implementation is extensible by design to allow the easy integration of specialized equipment such as ultrafast compound application tools. The resulting system offers fully automated patch clamp on purposely selected cells and combines high-quality gigaseal recordings with solution switching in the millisecond timescale.