Capturing “Uncopyable” Text

Dear Fred- Perhaps in your experience you see a reasonable answer to this. With most of the error messages that I really want to track down, it is impossible to cut and paste the words, failure point, module name, you name it. It would appear that they have gone out of their way to present the text as a graphic rather than text. If it were in text, we could simply cut and paste, but nooooooooooooo.

Why would this be done? It just does not make any sense to me, and leaves me with trying to sometimes transcribe lengthy material (whether or not I use a screen snapshot) so I can start doing web searches for answers. And to have to employ an OCR to convert perhaps a paragraph at most seems to me to be big-time overkill btdt (been there, done that). Are there any solutions that you have found? Best Regards, Bruce

Yes, some dialogs are presented in such a way that you can’t swipe the text to highlight and copy it. The dialogs are usually not actual graphics, but the text is still unavailable for easy copying. It is, however, still text, and can be dug out with the right tool.

I use SnagIt, a commercial tool that’s proven excellent at capturing the uncapturable— dialog texts, video playbacks, etc. . In the case of text captures, SnagIt can simply place the text on the Windows clipboard, from which it can be pasted at will into whatever other application or utility you desire. No OCR is needed.

There are many other tools available as well, both free and commercial:


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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.