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Cut ‘n’ Paste-able Windows Error Messages

easier to store / refer to messages’ contents
  [vote for,

It’s a pretty safe bet that, while I’m installing new hardware or whatever, I’ll get the odd error message from Windows. The text of these messages is often unilluminating and I’m forced to consult a friend or call for tech support. It would be much easier to communicate my particular problem if I could cut and paste the text of these error messages into a handy document, instead of scribbling it down on a piece of paper.

Perhaps there’s something I’m missing?

snarfyguy, Jan 26 2002

EE 2310 - Windows Screen dump instructions http://www.utdallas...ee2310/winshot.html
The way jutta described - says Windows 3.1/95 "Screendump" - "Screen Dump" - Google turns up a slew of ways... It's All Good [thumbwax, Jan 27 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Missing DLL Search http://www.halfbake...sing_20DLL_20Search
// Also, it would be good to have a button to search Microsoft's database of dll's and other small files when it says something is missing, and perhaps download it to the correct place on my computer. // [PunkiPrince, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       This is a great idea. There have been many times that I wished I could cut and paste the contents of alert and error boxes. If, for no other reason, than to report accurately to helpdesk what has happened or to make more accurate bug reports.
bristolz, Jan 26 2002

       What that guy and that gal said.
thumbwax, Jan 26 2002

       I've seen people use screendumps routinely in lieu of being able to cut & paste text.   

       [What's a screendump: a snapshot of what's visible on the computer screen, as a pixelated image. There are key combinations that you can press under Windows to either take a picture of the currently active window or the screen as a whole, and copy that image to the "clipboard". The normal next step is to invoke an image editing tool such as "paint", and use the "paste" command within that tool to insert the image into the tool's document, then save the result in some image format.]
jutta, Jan 26 2002

       Even a 'Save As' button would be handy.
phoenix, Jan 26 2002

       MS is probably concerned that hundreds of thousands of emails with forwarded text should start arriving every day. Urgency aside, just the constant reminder that "You wrote this -- now you clean it up" is guaranteed for 90 days post purchase would push the company's IT folks ever closer to 'going Enron'. (Very sad, not the least bit funny)   

       If your suggestion was implemented, ¯snarfyguy, I'd welcome it and probably use Notepad more frequently.
reensure, Jan 26 2002

       Actually, there is a mechanism in XP that sends an error report to MS, you can elect to send it, or not. I don't know how much info is being sent but I read that the number of reports coming in like that were in the hundreds of thousands . . . per day.
bristolz, Jan 27 2002

       Hey! There aren't many of us FoxPro programmers around...
phoenix, Jan 27 2002

       One of my Customers came up with a brilliant idea: he used a digital camera to take a shot of a BSOD'd system. It worked better the second time when he didn't use a flash :)
mwburden, Jan 27 2002

       The bluescreen messages do tell you the file in which the error occured, but that's not much info to fix it with. The string of unintelligible numbers is, I believe, a memory address. How that could be useful is beyond me, though…
magnificat, Jan 27 2002

       Don't most (good) applications write to an install log or generate events in the Windows event log?   

       bristolz: said XP mechanism is a bit dodgy - there is a strong suspicion it send licencing/marketing info too (at least according to the Microsoft T.A. at my work). Also first line non-professional Microsoft support is very poor anyway. Best use the tried and trusted Windows debug method - remove everything that generatred an error, reboot the system and try again.
mcscotland, Jan 27 2002

       Croissant, indeed. Always seemed silly to me that the only way to 'save' an error message easily was as a screendump. If you want to look that message up on MSDN, for instance, it would be nice to be able to just go Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, "Oh, _that's_ what Error [instantly forgettable string of digits and characters] is!"
Guy Fox, Jan 27 2002

       The gribble in the Blue Screen of Death is memory addresses, and useful only to programmers. I do tech support and it means nothing to me.   

       Peter, in case you didn't already know: Alt-Print Screen gives you just the active window <such as an error message> rather than the whole desktop, which would save a bit of cropping.
StarChaser, Jan 27 2002

       Another feature of Microsoft applications (if written in VB) is they have no concept of error handling. Therefore the same eror can generate a wide variety of different error numbers, which makes tracking down what htey mean *ahem* "fun". It also amuses me when you navigate to the msdn error help page that the errant application has directed you to and the page returns a VB runtime error. Its happened three times in the last week to me.
mcscotland, Jan 27 2002

       [mcscotland]: Your idea of fun and mine are very different.
bristolz, Jan 27 2002

       Well, ¯bristolz, the several times my system has offered to send the reason for an explorer shutdown to Microsoft were for (as near as I know) having more applications running than my memory (RAM) could handle. I knew the facts before I got involved, but if the inevitable happens and the next Windows™ generation is leaner and meaner I guess it is all worth it. Probably won't solve the problem others have that is central to this idea, and won't solve my current difficulty -- installed java email modifiers that produce unexitable previews -- that doesn't produce an error message; nonetheless, I think being able to select the text of an error message is a great idea!
reensure, Jan 28 2002

       By the way, you can forget about cut and paste if the system gets as far as a blue screen of death (tm). The system is already dead. No high-level application could possibly run to accept the text, even if the clipboard itself were still functioning. Popup errors are another matter, in which case a screen dump is usually the way to go.   

       What I don't understand is the incomplete/nonexistent implementation of automatic event logging in certain operating (ahem!) systems. Every call to the error box or warning box functions in the OS should generate a log entry. The logging facility should be deep enough in the kernel that even a bluescreen would find it still running long enough to log the event. Sure, this approach will make the logs grow faster, but a user-controlled limit on log space will allow the system to automatically purge old entries. Intelligent log viewing software could then help filter out the chaff and, when needed, show the seemingly irrelevant details to help with troubleshooting later.   

       What would really help is if there were a software industry standard set of error levels that could be set in conjunction with an event log entry. That would help with pruning the logs and during early stages of troubleshooting. The error levels could be something like:
8 System Critical: The kernel can not continue to run.
7 System Major: A system service can not continue to run.
6 System Minor: A system service produced an error which may have affected an application, but the service itself has recovered.
5 System Info: The system has found itself in an unusual state, but it is not likely to affect an application adversely.
4 Application Critical: An application program has encountered an irrecoverable error and can not continue to run.
3 Application Major: An application program could not perform a primary function. Some data may be lost, but the application can continue to run.
2 Application Minor: An application program could not perform a secondary function. The application recovered without loss of data.
1 Application Info: An application program has found itself in an unusual state, but it is not likely to affect the user session adversely.

       And for those really bad days:
9 Blue Smoke: Your computer is now a very expensive paperweight.
BigBrother, Aug 24 2002

       Be a little hard to retrieve that last message, methinks.
DrCurry, Aug 24 2002

       Here's what I've got on my HP7865 with Windows Me:
Start >
Programs >
Accessories >
System Tools >
System Information >
(System Summary)
Tools >
Fault Log

Do that, and you'll see what happened on:
Blue Screens of Death
thumbwax, Aug 24 2002

       That would be good! Also, it would be good to have a button to search Microsoft's database of dll's and other small files when it says something is missing, and perhaps download it to the correct place on my computer.
dreamquixote, Aug 25 2002


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