I’m surprised by how many people still send around bmp files of their entire desktop when they are only interested in showing some small error message displaying in a little window. They are using the [Print Screen] key. Some, at least know they can use [Alt]/[Print Screen] to capture only the active window.

Others prefer to capture only the area the audience needs to understand; they may use a screen capture app. I’ve been using Wisdom-soft’s free ScreenHunter . I’ve got it customized to capture the area within a rectangle I draw, after pressing F6. After drawing my rectangle, its contents capture as an auto-named gif file and a clipboard item.

Screen-capture-type-stuff I think about :

  • I try to avoid screen capturing error messages, opting instead to capture the error message in text format, from an error log. That way the dev can see the whole message and copy the text if they want to search the code or something. If the devs don't log the error, they're stuck with a screen capture.
  • If the screen capture needs other context (e.g., which programs are running in my tray, what time is it) I still capture the entire desktop.
  • Occasionally I mark up the screen capture (in Paint.NET) to circle something or add other annotations.
  • If capturing action is better, I capture video.
  • Sometimes I save time by using a screen capture to support repro steps. Example: Capture a filter page for a report and write a repro step that says "specify all filter criteria as depicted in the screen capture".

What (free) screen capture program do you use? What screen capture tips did I miss?


  1. Michele Smith said...

    Hi Eric,

    Since most of the testing that I do is in VMware, I just use the built in VMware screenshot tool for taking pics of errors or other necessary images for development.
    I also try to make sure the defect report is stepped out without the need for the screenshot, so it adds to the report versus makes it up.
    I very rarely have the need for video attachments, but if I do, there is a built in tool for that in the virtual machine as well.

  2. Joe said...

    I use ScreenRip32

  3. Anonymous said...

    My pet peeve about screen capture is that some people insist on pasting the image into a Word document and then attaching the word document into the e-mail, bug, or whatever. Why not just directly attach the image itself?

    Here's a good posting about it from one of the feeds I subscribe to: http://tinyurl.com/6ydfh2

  4. Eric Jacobson said...


    Thanks for the link to the post. I was going to comment on it but after reading the first 20 or so comments I realized everything I could possibly say has already been beat into the ground by others.

  5. Anonymous said...

    i use gadwin printscreen. and fireshot if i want to capture the entire page (instead of just the visible area) in the browser.

  6. Derek said...

    I actually like Snippy under XP (http://www.bhelpuri.net/Snippy/) and Cropper under Vista (http://blogs.geekdojo.net/brian/articles/Cropper.aspx). Just did a post on this the other day myself - http://testing-blog.com/2009/03/09/snippy-snappy-screen-captures/

  7. Kish252 said...

    i use Microsoft One note as screen capturing tool.

  8. Anonymous said...

    I really like Bug Shooting. You can capture first, edit and annotate later very easily.

  9. Jim said...

    My tool of choice is Jing, free from Techsmith (http://www.jingproject.com/). I like how it automatically shows me my screen shot in a Jing window all set up for arrows, text, and other annotations--so no need to use a different application for that. Next, you copy to clipboard or save to a location. When you save to a location, that location's path or URL is automatically placed on your clipboard. In a team situation, you can select a default network location accessible to all, and then capture, save, and paste the path/URL into the issue ticket if you wish. Jing does both still and motion captures.

  10. Danny R. Faught said...

    On Windows I like to use the freeware MWSnap for screen captures.

    If I'm running a guest OS in VMware Fusion on my Mac, often I'll just use the Mac OS grab utility, though it's tiff file format it's ideal.

    I'll second the pet peeve about people insisting on pasting images into Word. Even MS Paint would be better, and recent versions can save in a compressed image format.

  11. SandeepMaher said...


    I suggest the use of
    1) ScreenShot Captor - this is a nifty free tool which can snap the entire screen, region, a windows object (almost), etc in a file format you need and save in the directory you specify along with annotations, enhancing etc.
    2) For capturing text within images use JOCR along with MS Document Imaging sw (Article link - http://www.mydigitallife.info/2009/03/26/copy-text-from-image-files-with-jocr/. Download link - http://home.megapass.co.kr/~woosjung/Files/JOCR.exe)
    3) If you have to capture a video use Camtasia which is a freeware.

    Attaching this within the bug tracking system must be done with care lest it burden itself. Best to use JPGs within a defect item and keep videos out on a share.

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