A hidden feature of Windows can save you time.
Can I avoid retyping error messages when I need to report them?
It’s a surprisingly well-hidden feature.
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Avoid Retyping Error Messages
Use CTRL+C to copy error messages to your clipboard for your bug reports and help requests. If that doesn’t work, take a screenshot of the error.
Copy to clipboard
If you’re presented with an error message like that displayed above, click anywhere on it (other than an action button) to make sure it’s the active window, and type CTRL+C.
You’ll hear a beep, but there’s a very good chance the message just got copied to the clipboard.
Now run Notepad and hit Paste.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for all messages. How do you know which ones will copy and which won’t? You don’t.
It’s a matter of “try it and see.” Applications using the system-default message box get the copy-to-clipboard feature. Applications that create their own error-message-reporting dialog — even if it looks like the standard box — may or may not include the functionality.
The common alternative
Copying text to the clipboard is easy, and you can then paste that error text into an email, a document, or wherever else you might want to. It certainly saves retyping it and doesn’t have the risk of introducing errors in the process.
The alternative is to take a screenshot. Like copying to the clipboard, it captures the error accurately. Fortunately, it also works with any error message, regardless of what application generated it or how.
Images are larger files, and they’re often overkill when the text of the error message would be enough.
Don’t retype error messages. Copy them or take a screenshot so when you ask for help or otherwise communicate the error you received, the information will be as accurate as possible.
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