We are developing application for mobile platforms. But it can be tested on (windows) desktop and it's obviously easier than uploading to device. However mouse is quite a bit more precise than the touch screen, so testing on desktop will indicate different things as easy/hard to use than testing on device. Is there any tool or methodology for approximating control with touch screen (and rather thick finger) on desktop?

  • The application shouldn't be too difficult to upload to an actual device. You should try it in a real device, a few different ones, if possible.
    – PatomaS
    Oct 24, 2012 at 1:04
  • @PatomaS: We are testing it on devices. Dozens of them. Regularly. It's not too complicated to do. But it will always be more complicated than on desktop and the difference means that the developer working on the user interface will never do it after each change.
    – Jan Hudec
    Oct 24, 2012 at 7:04
  • Hi Jan; are you waiting on anything else before marking an answer as accepted?
    – Kit Grose
    Feb 18, 2013 at 6:21

3 Answers 3


There's no substitute for using a touch-screen for testing. If you're developing on Windows you can buy an infrared touch frame extremely cheaply (generally under $50), which is basically a frame of IR LEDs and IR sensors around a clear plastic or glass window, and a USB cable to connect it to your computer. This then sits in front of your existing display and is natively supported by Windows as a touch screen. Super, super easy.

Alternatively you can buy an external touch display (which can support anything up to 20 finger multitouch).

If you can't afford (or get your hands on) a real touch display, there are some little things you can do:

  • Follow the platform's touch guidelines. Where to look for these will differ depending on the platform you're building against.
  • Use an app like PhoneFinger (sadly seems to be discontinued but you can still find it around the place), which changes your mouse cursor to a big, obnoxious hand (and thus allows you to see how well your UI allows you to tap what you're trying to tap).
  • If you're building an app for iOS, you could try an app like LiveView to allow you to view your PC screen via the device itself (without needing to deploy your app over and over again).
  • That's what I was looking for. Unfortunately that application (otherwise an easy option) is for MacOS only; we are developing for multiple platforms and only 2 of us who do the iPhone port have MacOS (and nobody else really wants it; the development environment there can't be exactly called stable and reliable)
    – Jan Hudec
    Oct 24, 2012 at 7:37
  • @JanHudec: if they're Windows users, they can use a (paid) app called CursorFX to set any image as their mouse cursor (including, but not limited to, a giant transparent PNG of a hand; perhaps even sucked straight out of PhoneFinger for consistency). It's a bit more manual than the Mac solution (and being primarily a Mac user I can't vouch for its ease-of-use), but that should allow them to perform the same effect.
    – Kit Grose
    Oct 24, 2012 at 7:59
  • Also you can use a webcam to record the user's experience and see where they get confused or hesitant. You can use an affordable sled from somewhere like here: ponoko.com/design-your-own/products/…
    – Neon22
    Oct 25, 2013 at 11:24

First of all why would you build an application for a mobile platform and not test it on the platform itself? Personally I would prefer real life user testing on several mobile devices.

But if you have no option to do this you could try something like the touch template developed by Steven Hoober. I haven't used it personally but it seems like an easy and straightforward solution to finding some of the problems you mention.

Image of the touch template: http://www.touchusability.com/storage/example-interference.jpeg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1345404148235

Site of Steven with an explanation: http://4ourth.com/wiki/4ourth%20Mobile%20Touch%20Template (site currently not working, hopefully later on)


  • We definitely test on the target platforms. But when refining the design, we need to test it, do quick tweaks to the layout, test again, do more tweaks and so on. Uploading to most devices is not exactly straightforward, so I was looking for most efficient simple test.
    – Jan Hudec
    Oct 23, 2012 at 8:38

Perhaps you could somehow emulate a mobile device with a small touch screen monitor attached to the desktop itself?

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