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Desktop Testing Tools and Techniques Unveiled

What is desktop testing?

Desktop applications are standalone software programs that don’t rely on internet connectivity for their function, and network issues do not impact their performance. A few examples of desktop applications are MS Word, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and the calculator. These applications can run on individual devices even when offline. Due to this, desktop applications are often considered more secure than web applications.

Testing desktop applications can be complex because, in most cases, they are developed for a specific environment, reducing their interaction with other parameters to almost zero. For testing desktop applications, several computers with different configurations may be required. The greatest complexity arises when testing through intranets, where the number of clients and servers are known. The desktop testing checklist could include tests for GUI or Graphical User Interface, Functional Testing, Regression testing, Performance testing under normal and peak loads, Compatibility Testing, upgrade testing, installation and uninstallation testing, Patch testing, and L10N / I18N testing. If desktop applications form the main part of your organization’s operations, it is crucial to test them effectively.

How do desktop testing tools work?

Desktop testing tools are specialized software used in the software testing process specifically designed to create, manage, and execute automated tests on any standalone or packaged applications running on a desktop operating system like Windows, macOS, or Linux. These tools streamline and automate various aspects of software testing, reducing manual effort and improving the accuracy and reliability of test results.

Here’s a deeper look into how these tools function:
  1. Creating Test Cases: Desktop testing tools often come with an intuitive user interface that helps testers to design test cases without needing extensive programming knowledge. These tools provide functionalities like record-and-play, keyword-based testing, or data-driven testing which simplify the process of test creation. Additionally, advanced desktop testing tools support scripting languages, enabling experienced testers to create sophisticated test cases if required.
  2. Managing Test Cases: Desktop testing tools often have capabilities to manage and organize test cases effectively. They allow testers to group test cases, establish hierarchies, or assign properties to test cases. Such features help in better test organization and allow for easy navigation through vast test suites.
  3. Executing Tests: Once test cases are designed, desktop testing tools can execute these tests on the application under test. They can interact with the desktop application’s UI, simulate user interactions, and perform operations just like an end-user would. They can execute tests under various scenarios and conditions, helping identify bugs or inconsistencies in the application.
  4. Logging and Reporting: During and after test execution, desktop testing tools log all the activities performed and the results obtained. They generate detailed test reports, providing insights into pass/fail status, error messages, screenshots, performance data, and more. These detailed reports aid in identifying and debugging any issues that may have arisen during the testing process.
  5. Integration with Other Tools: Desktop testing tools often come with built-in capabilities to integrate with other tools used in the software development lifecycle. This can include version control systems, continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) tools, defect tracking systems, and more. These integrations ensure a smooth workflow and help maintain consistency across the testing process.
  6. Cross-platform Testing: Some desktop testing tools support multiple operating systems, allowing the same tests to be executed on different platforms. This is vital in ensuring the application’s functionality across different environments.

Best practices in desktop testing

Prepare a test automation strategy

Preparing a test automation strategy will help to identify and analyze the features that need to be automated for the desktop app. It also assists in defining what capabilities the desktop test automation tool should have, such as a tool that can test processes end-to-end across technologies and applications, or one that can run parallel tests in desktop applications efficiently. This knowledge aids in better resource organization, task distribution among the QA team, and optimization of project time and cost.

Identify a testing tool

Identifying a testing tool for testing the Desktop Application is a crucial task. Some essential features for tool selection could be stability, ease of use, and the ability to troubleshoot and debug swiftly. A tool that allows building test cases without coding can speed up testing and require less maintenance, making it a desirable selection factor. The tool should support cross-application functionality, and it is also important to ensure it can help minimize test automation maintenance.

Maintain a checklist on how to test the desktop app

It is advisable to maintain a checklist of the types of testing to be conducted for the desktop application, such as Functionality testing, Usability testing, Performance testing, Security testing, Compatibility Testing, and Regression Testing.

Popular desktop testing tools


testRigor is a compelling test automation system that features AI-powered test creation. It stands out as the easiest, fastest, and most efficient executable specification engine, allowing for the creation of tests using simple English commands. Compared to similar tools, testRigor enables users to spend significantly less time on maintenance. It supports testing across web, mobile, and desktop platforms, with the ability to run cross-platform tests, ensuring comprehensive coverage.

Primarily a cloud solution, testRigor also offers on-premise installation where required. It holds HIPAA and SOC2 certifications, guaranteeing the highest standards of data privacy and security.

By facilitating a complete no-code workflow, testRigor empowers manual testers to create robust end-to-end functional tests. It also fosters excellent visibility and communication within teams.

Micro Focus UFT (formerly HP QTP)

Micro Focus UFT, formerly known as HP QTP, is an automated functional testing tool that helps to execute automated tests, aiming to identify any errors, defects, or gaps contrary to the expected results of the application under test. Mercury Interactive originally designed it before it was acquired by HP, and now it’s managed by MicroFocus. UFT possesses several significant features: it’s an icon-based tool that automates regression and functional testing of an application, it offers both record and playback features, and it provides the capability to automate testing for both desktop and web-based applications. Additionally, it has a robust object identification process. However, it is important to note that UFT cannot be used on Linux and Mac OS X.


WinAppDriver is an open-source tool used for automating Windows applications. Its coding pattern is akin to Selenium, allowing users to write code in various programming languages such as Java, Python, C#, JavaScript, etc. It comprises libraries that can be integrated into a test runner supporting Appium. For instance, users can create and run WinAppDriver test scripts with C# testing frameworks like MSTest and xUnit from Visual Studio. Developed and maintained by Microsoft, WinAppDriver is a free automation tool. It facilitates faster element identification and requires less coding. This Appium-compatible server supports the testing of various application categories: Universal Windows Platform (UWP), Windows Presentation Foundation (UPF), Windows Forms (WinForms), and Classic Windows applications.

Robot Framework

Robot Framework is a Python-based open-source test automation framework used for acceptance testing, acceptance test-driven development, and Robotic Process Automation. The Selenium Library is the most popular library used within it for web development and UI testing. Test cases in the Robot Framework are written in straightforward English rather than code, enhancing readability even for those with limited coding knowledge. This platform and application-independent framework rely on a keyword-testing methodology represented in a tabular format. Test cases in Robot Framework are created with keywords sourced from two categories:
  • Library Keyword: These are keywords derived from the library we import into the Robot Framework.
  • User Keywords: These are user-defined keywords created to perform a particular action in the test case. They can also be composed using the library keywords and built-in keywords within the Robot Framework.
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