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While doing exploratory testing it would be nice to be able to record the screen (in a non-intrusive way), so if a defect is found the steps to reproduce it can be easily reviewed.

Are there any good screen capture tools (video) out there that will not slow down the testing machine?

I have tried a few different applications (I don't remember what they were, as it was a while ago), though they all seem to slow the PC down to the point where they are unusable for this situation. Would I be better off recording the feed to the monitor using external hardware, or is there software out there that can do this?

EDIT:

I run tests on many different Windows OS's, so the tool has to work equally well on XP as it does on Win7.

One of the issues I have noticed with most screen capture software, is that they just seem to be taking screen shots every second or so. This method causes the mouse to flicker, and slows the PC down too much.

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I plan to use CamStudio for usability testing. Works fine on a recently-purchased Windows 7 laptop. –  user246 Jun 2 '11 at 15:39
    
Have you tried Jing? –  TristaanOgre Jun 2 '11 at 15:41
    
@TristaanOgre: Jing has the same problems as other tools I have tried, it is jumpy and too CPU intensive. I also don't like the fact that I have to sign up for an account to use it. –  Tester101 Jun 2 '11 at 16:03
    
@User246: I have tried CamStudio, but it slowed the Windows XP machine down too much. –  Tester101 Jun 2 '11 at 16:11
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13 Answers

My personal preference is SnagIt. I've never found it too intensive or jumpy. It's worked equally well for me with XP and higher. Although, on a Windows 7 machine, I tend to use PSR.exe a lot.

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Does SnagIt capture video, or just screen shots? –  Tester101 Jun 2 '11 at 19:00
    
Both. You can also set it to record only a particular window, full screen, or a designated region. Also, in you want to use it for test automation, it has a rather decent API for tying it in –  Lyndon Vrooman Jun 2 '11 at 19:26
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SnagIt is awesome –  DuncN Jun 3 '11 at 10:18
    
Snagit is hands down one of the best, and they even have a Mac version now. I've used it for creating step by step how-to documents, screenshots for web blogs, and of course endless bug reports. The annotation features are fantastic, and it is far superior to any other such tool I've ever used. The speed and ease of use more than justify the reasonable license fee. Download and try it free for a month, you wont ever want to go back to printscreen&paint. –  Chuck van der Linden Jun 6 '11 at 7:21
    
+1 -- I would also recommend SnagIt. –  rishimaharaj May 8 '12 at 20:06
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As well as SnagIt (good shout Lyndon) I am starting to use Rapid Reporter which is proving to be a v. useful exploratory testing tool.

It doesn't do video, but I use SnagIt for the video (once a defect has been found) to support the other documentation provided / generated by Rapid Reporter

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Upvoted. If you want both a screen shot and a way to keep track of tester comments throughout an exploratory testing session, Rapid Reporter is truly fantastic. A very nice example of Rapid Reporter in action (with screen shots shown amidst a tester's comments about their developing thought process throughout the exploratory testing session) can be found here: testing.gershon.info/rapidreporter/pairingrr/AngryWeaselTheApp/… –  Justin Sep 7 '12 at 14:18
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I use two tools for these kinds of problems. One which I found because it is recommended by Michael Bolton (just to credit the source) is BB TestAssistant - http://www.bbsoftware.co.uk/BBTestAssistant.aspx which has a free express license available. The other is a tool called Jing which is free http://www.techsmith.com/jing/.

BB TestAssistant I use for recording longer exploratory test sessions and I have experienced no problems with it. Jing, I tend to use for quickly taking screenshots (it does screenshots too) and short bits of video like a particular feature or bug (the slightly annoying 'sun' you get on the screen can be removed in the settings and you can set the tool to launch from a hotkey combination).

I haven't experienced the problems that you describe with either tool and both take real video formats. I can honestly recommend these based on my experiences.

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I now notice that Jing has already been mentioned in the comments. I've not had any problems with it although as I said I use it for shorter videos. –  sean_robbins Jun 2 '11 at 20:59
    
Jing has a nice UI, but I find SnagIt is more useful –  DuncN Jun 3 '11 at 10:23
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I recently discovered PSR.exe, which is part of Windows 7 (just type in psr in the search field). It allows the user to record everything he or she does (like Snagit), but also makes it easy to add comments and to highlight certain regions of the screen. Once you finish recording, everything will be saved in a zip file as a so called ".mht" file. When you open the file, you get a nice step-by-step presentation of everything you have done, plus your comments and additional information.

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1) As a free solution: You can use FFmpeg for full screen recording. For windows it requires ScreenCapturer (also free and opensource). For linux it can record the screen natively.

http://svnpenn.blogspot.com/2011/10/ffmpeg-screencast-windows.html

2) Camstudio is also a good solution. The output files may be huge, but you always can encode it with FFmpeg using WinFF.

http://winff.org/html_new/

http://camstudio.org/

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Back in high school we made movies playing games via a program called Fraps. I don't know if it exists anymore, but it might be worth looking in to.

Don't ask how did we ever manage to convince our guidance consular that there was actual educational value in doing that! :-)

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Fraps is only for recording video games, it does not record the desktop and so is useless in this situation. Thanks for the suggestion though. –  Tester101 Jun 3 '11 at 12:32
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How To Use Fraps To Record Desktop - youtube.com/watch?v=myw4H6F0-Q4 –  Ardesco May 3 '12 at 14:56
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Try Wink, it's very light because it captures a screenshot on each click or keystroke. You can export to PDF for printing or make it a Flash video. It works on all Windows versions, recorded projects tend to grow huge.

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I use a combination of three tools for screen capture while I am testing, be it exploratory or scripted.

For screen recording BB Flashback Express is the free version of BB Test Assistant (http://www.bbsoftware.co.uk/BBFlashBack_FreePlayer.aspx). I set it to record constantly and retain 10 minutes of footage. This keeps the file size down, and resource usage down too. Although, I have found it works well on a number of machines including low spec ones, especially when compared with CamStudio.

For screenshots I use a combination of Awesome Screenshot and Greenshot. Awesome Screenshot is a plugin for Chrome and Firefox. Greenshot (http://getgreenshot.org/) is an open source screen capture tool which runs in the background. Using either CTRL+PrintScreen or ALT+PrintScreen your view is captured and loaded into Greenshot for editing.

Finally, I add my vote for using Rapid Reporter. With it's ability to export to CSV, you can record your steps and import (or Copy/paste) them directly into test management software for re-use/regression at a later date.

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BBFlashBack player wants my email to download it. Why do they need my email? –  Tester101 May 10 '12 at 15:56
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Because they send you a license for it. The software is free, but requires a license to run after 30 days. –  SheyMouse May 10 '12 at 16:05
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Snagit (Windows, MacOsX), fraps (Windows).

But I used snagit almost exclusively for taking annotated screenshots with arrows and stuff.

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Have you tried qTrace? They seem to be coming out with a free version of their screen capture and defect submitting tool. It integrates directly with a bunch of bug trackers, I used it with Bugzilla nicely. Found it here: http://qasymphony.com/qtrace-features.html

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Recently I learned about Screenpresso

http://www.screenpresso.com/

It's not as good as SnagIt but much better than Jing. In free version you can record videos only up to 20 secs. This limitation is gone in paid version.

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It's very important to record and capture screen shot while performing exploratory testing.

There is a tool to record everything that you testing :-

1) Webex recorder. 2) Camtasia recorder.

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If you are testing without test plan and test cases, You're Doing It Wrong. It's a common misunderstanding that exploratory testing does not have plans and test cases---it does, it's just that you create them on the run, as you continuously find bugs and/or understand the application. –  Alois Mahdal May 9 '12 at 9:51
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I prefer,

For Screen Recording - 1) Camstudio, 2) Webexe recorder, 3) Screen2exe

For Screen Capture - 1) Gadwin's Printscreen, 2) Zapgrab (Old Free Version), 3) Snipping Tool

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