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What free tools are there on the Windows platform that I can use to capture what mouse movements and clicks a user makes during an evaluation?

Ideal product would:

  • Not be likely to crash and freak the users out during the test
  • Not slow the machine down too much
  • Offer an easy way to save what it has recorded and start a new session
  • Allow for easy review and rewind
  • Play nicely with a browser (I'm evaluating a website)
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closed as not constructive by JonW Nov 29 '12 at 9:12

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6 Answers 6

I believe qTrace is the tool that fit to your needs. Besides, you can easily submit the defect to bug tracker system such as Bugzilla, Jira ...

Also, qTrace file could be generated into Word or PDF for easily reviewing or editing. Capturing actions on browsers (FF, Chrome, and IE) comes to its strength.

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I used Camtasia a couple of years ago. It was light-weight, and recorded as a continuous screen-shot, so it doesn't mind whether you're recording a browser or any other application. I didn't notive any slow-down on the machine, and once started, it hid nitly in the notification area. Working with the output was also easy, as immediately after the recording, it generated a video file, which you could view in any video player.

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  • Google Hangouts On Air allow to share your screen and the resulting video is automatically uploaded to YouTube. It has the advantage that tests can be done/viewed remotely, but you need internet connection and resulting resolution is not optimal. The service is free but not opensource.

  • Wink provides time-based and action-based capture of user actions. Since the intended use of this screen capture tool is to create user demos, you can easily manipulate the captured content to include labels, remove some parts and export it to swf format for displaying it on the web. Wink is free, but not opensource.

  • Cam Studio is an alternative for screen capture. The result is a video that can be converted to SWF with the tool. In this case, The edition capabilities are more limited (you can add annotations to the screen when you are recording but not later). CamStudio is opensource software.

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I use Wink and I like it very much. But I wouldn't use it for user testing. Wink aims at recording rather short interaction sequences, and it's a plus that it has an editor allowing you to tweak it frame per frame. The downside is that during recording it stores the frames in the computers RAM memory (as opposed to storing them in the hard disk) and depending on the frame rate you might have a resources shortage and instability after a while. I found this a few years ago. Computer memory is bigger now, and they might have changed the program, so it might not hold true any more. –  Juan Lanus Oct 25 '12 at 12:51
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Jing is a very popular utility in the usability industry.

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For those who haven't heard of it, Jing is a screencast capture tool - it records a movie (SWF in the free version, MP4 in the pro version) of the users interaction with an application. It captures the mouse, and shows the interaction in real time. As a movie, it's easy to pause and review - I'm using it to capture defects (showing the defect occurring) and to document fixes working. –  Bevan Aug 18 '11 at 3:49
    
It says it's limited to 5 minute recordings for "instant, focused comunication." That doesn't seem long enough for a usability test, how do you manage it? –  Pam G Aug 18 '11 at 18:17
    
@Pam-G Whoops, looks like they added that restriction since I last evaluated it! –  Indolering Aug 28 '11 at 6:37
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Wink is great software

one more very interesting software which most of us are not using or not aware is, with WIN7 there is software called PROBLEM STEPS RECORDER - free tool which comes with Win 7 - records screen by screen - output will be document - this is great to record walkthrough of application while discussing with customers/clients

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This sounds a lot like the question on Software to record a user completing a task.

I think my answer of selenium would work for you too as you're recording a browser. As their website states:

"Selenium IDE is a Firefox add-on that records clicks, typing, and other actions to make a test, which you can play back in the browser."

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Selenium records what happens, it doesn't capture the screen. It's also intended for developers doing automated functionality testing, not for doing usability tests. More here: ixda.org/node/18919 –  Rahul Jul 27 '11 at 14:58
    
Indeed it wouldn't capture the mouse movements, but it does seem to answer the other requirements –  icc97 Jul 28 '11 at 6:17
    
If you go for this answer (and leave mouse movement for what it is) then iMacros is an alternative as well. –  Jeroen Mar 4 '12 at 14:52
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