When encountering an error message, some of our end-users have a tendency to take a screenshot, crop it and copy-paste it in a word document or a pdf, and then they mail us that PDF...

This is typically quite cumbersome and we lose the context, messages get truncated, text is blurred by compression, etc.

However, all they have to do would be to hit Ctrl+C or click the prominent "Copy to clipboard" button to have a text version, which can just be pasted into anything, and which is just much easier for support and debugging (we have the exact and full error text, version numbers, etc.). We also have a "send mail" button and a "save report to file", which are almost never used. We already have a big fat notice in the error message dialog which says to prefer the above methods to screenshots.

But no, they still use the screenshot or snipping tool, and proceed to PDF'it. Sometimes they go as far as printing the screen and scanning the print to make a PDF (you can tell from the scanner artefacts...).

One key constraint we have is that the application runs in corporate networks, with no way to upload directly to a cloud server internet.

Usually, when you explain the simpler way, they will use the copy-paste text option... though after a few months, they forget about it and revert to the PDF routine, which seems to be standard modus operandi for issues with all their other software.

Any UX ideas ?

  • 1
    Have messages with pdfs or images returned to them automatically...
    – Solar Mike
    Dec 2, 2021 at 12:55
  • The PDF process seems really time-consuming and specific. It suggests lack of user trust (“show, don’t tell.”) Have you talked to the users who do this to ask them why they’re going through the extra effort?
    – Izquierdo
    Dec 3, 2021 at 0:33
  • 1
    @Izquierdo When shown the copy-paste, they like it, but for most of their other software (incl. Office suite and all the web apps) that's the way they know and their support teams usually ask them for screenshots all the time before doing anything, so they revert back to the PDF routine. Dec 3, 2021 at 13:31
  • I'm teaching. I put some notes on the screen. Students pull out their phones and take pictures. Every day I post the notes as a document. They prefer their pictures. I will never understand it. Dec 6, 2021 at 3:52

1 Answer 1


This is an interesting problem that you have, and one that I have seen solved in similar contexts by simply just having a 'Report this problem' button as a clear call-to-action and perform the copy & paste function plus entering those details into a form and submit it.

But it seems like you have some constraints that might prevent the implementation of a feature like that. So the alternative is not to automate those features but bring up a window which will block them from doing other things and just let them copy and paste the details into the form.

I am not suggesting to make their usual process of PDFing the information more difficult, but to make it explicit that the recommended way is both easier for them and the people helping them to solve the problem.

I have heard that when trying to modify user behaviours (this is also from child psychology apparently), you don't tell people what not to do because sometimes they don't read and just think it is what you want them to do.

  • We had the "print screen" button hooked for just that purpose, but these days people no longer use that button or know it's there, and for web apps you can't hook it anyway. They go directly for the snipping tool in Windows 10 or use a screen capture software installed by their IT... neither of which we can block :/ Dec 3, 2021 at 13:36
  • @EricGrange I think that's why it makes sense to just create one path/flow for them rather than presenting too many different options, especially since this is the issue that you are having with managing the input required for resolving their issue. But I would actually start thinking about new rather than existing users if you want to prevent the problem rather than change the behaviour of users who are somehow set in their ways (which is a harder job because you don't really have a way of 'forcing' them to change in this case).
    – Michael Lai
    Dec 4, 2021 at 22:41

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