5 Must Have Non-testing Tools for Testers to Make Life Easier

Archimedes remarked: “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the earth”– Such is the power of tools. When the right lever comes along, no planet is big enough that it can’t be lifted like a ball of cotton.

Sure, we know a lot about tools. At STH we have researched and put together elaborate list of Bug tracking, test management, pen testing, and the other specialized automation tools. We agree and understand the importance of them. However, this article is not going to be about that.

5 must have non-testing related tools for testers that come in handy on a daily basis

non-testing tools for testers

Below, we are going to talk about 5 common-to-use tools that are required in a software tester’s toolkit to make life easier:

  1. Microsoft Excel
  2. Screen capture and annotator software
  3. Compressor and de-compressor software
  4. Sticky note software
  5. Paper and pen/pencil

#1. Microsoft Excel:

This is a blessing for us testers. See below example of Microsoft Excel used for writing test cases:

qa training test cases samples xls

  • The row-column format of an Excel spreadsheet is a perfect fit for our needs. Whether it is for a requirements list, detailed test cases or bug reports these are just great.
  • The strong mathematical orientation renders itself for easy metric collection, calculations and graphical presentation.
  • An excel workbook also can have multiple sheets so that we have all we need at one place, yet with a mechanism to cleanly organize information into different pages.
  •  Easily expandable and collapsible.
  • Many tools support the import of data from excel making the transition to test/bug management tools easy.

I could go on and on about this, but you get the picture.

Note: You can even use free version of Microsoft Excel online.

#2. Screen capture and Annotator:

There is no better way to solve a crime than catching the criminal red handed, right?  We testers need evidence to raise a defect. Also, the more information we provide to prove the point, the better. What could be better proof than a screenshot!

A tool that will help us capture the screen in a high definition, yet memory efficient image is a huge plus. If this tool even lets us mark and highlight the defect – even better.

See below example of screen capture using a free tool:

qSnap features

These are some of the tools you could try:

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In the absence of these tools, Microsoft paint or Microsoft Word are good alternatives. They are a little bit more work, but they do their job.

In some case we might have to go beyond the pictures and include a video clipping showing the exact sequence of steps executed and the results that were obtained on the AUT. A tool like CamStudio – screen recoding software, might come in handy.

Note: Also, tools like JIRA and HP ALM have an in-built mechanism to capture screenshot, but annotation is still missing from them.

#3. Compressor and de-compressor:

We testers also indulge in a lot of document sharing on a daily basis. In case of sending multiple files as a single (compressed) file or compressing a file for memory efficiency or when we need to open a file that is sent to us compressed, we use some sort of compressor & de-compressor software.

Here are some tools of this category:

Some of these tools are even open source, so give them a try and have one handy – chances are you would need them sooner than later.

#4. Sticky notes software:

Sticky notes are one of the best inventions known to humans, if you ask me. They are handy, efficient, colorful and versatile. What’s more, there is software that lets us keep sticky notes on our desktops. Great stuff!

These serve as informal reminders, checklists, to-do lists, etc. Check out the list below:

Most of the tools in this genre are free. Find what speaks to you and use away….

#5. Paper and Pen/Pencil:

non testing tool 3

Call me old-fashioned but I still believe in the power of written word (literally ‘written’).

Reaching for a paper and pen to scribble an out line to a problem or draw a system’s architecture or calculate something or make a list or simply to doodle during a meeting, this hands-down is number 1 most needed tool.

It is most organic to who we are as people and individuals.

I still reach out for a paper and a pen when I get asked a question, even in an interview. It is easier to explain while drawing/writing than it is to paint a picture only through words.

Also, it’s a welcome break from staring long hours into the bright computer screens. :)

But, if you would rather have a soft document and not fuss with physical objects, Notepad might be your best friend. Check out the latest in the notepad world at this page.

TextPad is similar to notepad but comes with additional text editing capabilities- so that is an option too.

Conclusion:

Sure, as hard core QAs these tools do not add to our resumes or change on our career’s direction or do anything major at all. But wouldn’t you agree that our day-to-day tasks would be that much more difficult without them.

Over to you:

What are the common non-QA tools that you find are inevitable in your day to day duties? What’s your ‘go-to’ tool(s) of choice in the categories we discussed in this article?

Please let us know your comments and questions below.

About Author: This article is written by STH team member and our manual testing course instructor Swati S.




24 comments ↓

#1 Margot

I will add, 2 monitors, keep the application on one and the defect management tool on the other

#2 Ankur

great list. I use most of these on daily basis.

#3 Mojmír N?me?ek

Nice article. Free Quick and Easy Screen Capture and Annotator that I like is http://www.iphotodraw.com/

#4 Bibhishan

Nice article sir,

We are using some of them regularly .

But, Sir, I have one quire is that. is this softwares use in MNCs?

#5 Aghil

Come on, I was expecting some real tools to make life easier (apart from what I know). These are the usual tools that we use daily or know to most testers out there. I use Microsoft OneNote, I have to say, there is no other alternative software that can replace OneNote (which infact serves the purpose of all the above listed software). Every tester must try using OneNote. Trust me, you are going to thank me.
Second tool is Xminds, Business Analysts use this to map mind, even testers can use this to understand requirements if they don’t have a proper documented requirement.
Third is Photoshop, Photoshop for testers? Yes, for HTML testing (I have used plugins instead of Photoshop, but was so buggy). Moreover you don’t need to have a standalone PS, there is an online version(https://pixlr.com/editor/) available for it which just servers the purpose (i.e HTML testing).
I can go on and on…some of other tools are Google Docs, Google Keep (both sync online), MeasureIt plugin, Awesome Screenshot (for taking full screenshot), and ofcourse coffee and music :P…your work will fly.
Also, STH please give me an opportunity to write an article on your blog.

#6 Ade

Commonly known some tester ignore those tool.
They are well known tools and powerful.

#7 arpit mathur

Very nice article sir, I m completely agree with your point

#8 arpit mathur

Most Common and important tool for our day to day testing activities

#9 Mangaladevi P K

Very nice article.
For tracking and management purpose QC is better than Excels.
Anyway We cant live without Excels.

Thanks for the article.

#10 Swati Seela

@Bibhishan: Absolutely, all project and companies- big or small use these tools :)

#11 Victoria

You should have mentioned also B1 Free Archiver among compression/decompression utilities and PicPick is really cool as a screencapture tool.

#12 Manander Singh

We don’t need these third party tools when we have all these inbuilt in windows 7…
snipping tool
sticky notes
record steps to reproduce a problem

#13 Hitesh Siroya

Very nice article, yes these tools are wonderful and require in daily basis.
I would like to add one useful online tool to create video with voice, which i am using now:

Jing (from Techsmith): It is a free online tool and able to create 5 min video.

Once done you can upload it on Techsmith site(via share button) and it gives you URL where you can post anywhere.

Once user clicks on it, he will able to see this video.

Thanks.

#14 Tim Western

Some real tools you say?

RapidReporter for recording test session notes as you go (and taking screen shots at time you took them)

Fiddler Tool reverse proxy from Telerik (developed by Telerik) (for seeing what data is going across the wire and easy messing with APIs)

WireShark internet monitoring tool (for seeing how things are working at many layers of the HTTP stack)

cURL

If you know ruby… HTTParty gem for testing APIs from a command line

JMeter for load testing

YSlow for discovering webpage weights.

#15 Brian

These are universal tools.

I work in an environment without mobile or WiFi signals on legacy systems (VAX VMS) so the fancy web based stuff (Google Docs, EverNote etc) and screen capture tools (camera works tho) does not work.

#16 Hari Prasad Palla

Really Nice Article and thanks to STH team to post such a good and useful Articles.

#17 Jagadishwar

Really it is very helpful tools for every tester

#18 Sweksha

ohh …. very nice article sir ….. I am also using these tools and they are really helpful for us.

#19 Smitha

“Ink is better than Best Memory” 5th point is super valid.. I agree with all the points

#20 Thejaswini B G

send me the softcopy for “Manual testing help free ebook”.

#21 JonB

Don’t forget about Steps Recorder(PSR.exe). Every Windows box has always had it for years. Super simple to use, has 1 small task bar you can place anywhere you want. You can annotate it the images. It captures a screen shot each time an event happens and gives an ton of technical info with each screen shot. I left mine on all day, just to see, and it ran fine. It creates a zip file that you open in MS Explorer. Very, Very handy for training new people or trouble shooting a managers desktop. The person can then find the image in the zip, annotate it, and you get the option to email it. Everyone should try it. It is very under rated and works great.
Also, dont forget about Notepad ++ for your text editing. I have found that notepad looses my clipboard info.

#22 Gaurav Khurana

Really Good tools available. I use most of them which are mentioned in this post along with a pen and diary to note down important things

Aghil and Jonb,Hitesh thanks for sharing additional things in comments

#23 Amandeep Singh

Great compilation, Swati.

One tool which I use very often is to-do list apps (Whiteboard, Wunderlist to name a few) which is a to-do app which I have on my home PC, phone and work PC where I can create to-do list which gets synced to the cloud.

#24 Ancy jose

Nice article:)

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