Record and Playback Testing: The Easiest Way to Start Automating Tests

Record and playback testing is a low code solution to automate tests. Read this blog to understand the pros and cons along with the ways to use it effectively:

Record and playback testing is a low-code solution to automate tests. While many teams have successfully used it to enhance their testing, others consider it not worth the effort.

In this article, we’ll explain the concept of record and playback testing, and how and when you should go about it. If you’re a manual tester, this might be the solution to improve your testing efficiency.

We’ll also recommend some of the most popular tools that can help you record tests easily.

What is Record and Playback in Testing

Record And Playback Testing

Record and playback testing is a low-code method or technique that uses a tool to automate tests without writing test scripts. Some other names used for this method are “record and replay testing” or “test recording.”

When people mention “record and playback”, they usually refer to the method or the features in a tool to record tests.

So, how does it work? When you perform manual actions on an application under test (AUT), a web application, for example, the tool will capture these actions and automatically turn them into a test script.

You can then “playback” or rerun the test steps to make sure they can run like it’s supposed to.

Record and Playback Testing

Advantages of Record and Playback Testing

You don’t need to know how to code and execute programming languages to start with record and playback testing. You only need to pick the right tool to fit your team’s needs and skills.

It’s easy to start and use for everyone. Many testing tools now have record and playback as built-in features and they are ready to use. You don’t need to spend time setting up a testing framework.

Everyone on your team will likely be able to record simple tests after watching a few short tutorials. So, manual testers or even roles like product managers, designers, marketers, and people with no programming background can also take part in testing by recording tests.

Furthermore, it reduces the significant time required for repetitive tasks. By automating the tests, you no longer have to perform them manually. You would have more time to write more test cases and do other kinds of tests. Regression testing is the best candidate to use record and playback for automation.

Last but not least, record and playback testing is a great way to transition from manual to automated testing in your team. With test scripts created by the tool, you can get familiar with codes more quickly. You can reuse and modify the scripts to create more automated test cases for your AUT.

=>> Learn how to automate tests quickly by using Record and Playback in Katalon automation tool (for free).

Disadvantages of Record and Playback in Automation Testing

Record and playback testing can become stressful when the UI of your application changes frequently. In these cases, the recorded tests might easily become broken. Without knowing how to update the test scripts, you would likely choose to re-record the tests.

This “just re-recording” approach can take a huge amount of time, dropping your testing efficiency.

Even when you know how to update the scripts, a lot of manual maintenance is required. You will need to maintain the test objects and edit the test steps like changing the element information, adding more custom actions, and so forth to keep the recorded tests stable with the frequently changing AUT.

Record and playback is ideal to start with simple automated tests. But it’s not ideal when projects scale up with more added requirements and changes. You’ll need to know how to code and modify test scripts or write new scripts to cover more complex test scenarios.

Suggested Reading =>> Translate Manual Test Cases Into Automation Scripts

When to Use Record and Playback Testing

It depends on your team’s needs and the members’ expertise and preference. That said, here are some cases where you can use record and playback testing well.

You can use this feature to automate regression tests, tests that verify core product functionalities, or any other tests that are repetitive. You should record tests when the related UI is stable or rarely changes.

Also, go for the record and playback testing when your team decides to transition from manual to automated testing, especially if there are mostly manual testers in the team.

It’s a good start because the record and playback testing tools are usually ready to use and don’t require much coding to start. Team members can learn the process of building automated tests and get familiar with codes more quickly by viewing the test scripts generated by the tool.

Record and Playback Testing Tools

One of the most common mistakes when choosing a record and playback tool is not considering the team’s scaling up. To avoid picking another solution later, choose a tool that has both options for recording and scripting or built-in keywords to create test cases.

The good news is that most modern testing tools now have a built-in record and playback feature, along with other functionalities, to help your team scale up more quickly. In the next section, we’ll recommend to you some popular record and playback testing tools (both free and paid).

#1) Katalon


You can start using Record and Playback in Katalon (for free) right away since it’s ready-made. It has a very simple and easy-to-use interface. It also has a built-in object repository, following a Page-Object model, to help you organize and maintain test objects after recording the tests.

You can easily capture elements, edit a recorded test, or re-use it to create more automated test cases.

Katalon also has built-in keywords, scripting mode, and other advanced features for debugging, reporting, integration, and so forth. This will help your team cover your testing needs when scaling up. There are a lot of online resources and user communities to learn how to use this automation platform.

=> Watch different ways to create automated test cases in Katalon

#2) Selenium IDE

Selenium IDE

Selenium is the most popular name when it comes to automation testing tools. Selenium IDE is a free and easy-to-use recording and playback tool for web applications. All you need to install and add the extension to your browser to start recording the test steps. That said, the major limitation is the limited functionalities for scaling.

Recommended Reading =>> Selenium IDE Download, Installation and Core Features

#3) TestComplete


TestComplete is another ready-made tool that has a record and playback feature. It also has scripting capabilities and other advanced features like parallel or keyword-driven testing, an object recognition engine, reporting, and so on to help your team expand its testing capabilities.

You can also edit and re-use your recorded tests with ease.

#4) Testim


Testim offers a Record and Playback feature to automate tests with a visual editor to customize test steps and codes. It also has other features (for troubleshooting, integration, reporting with graphs and statistics, etc.) to expand the testing needs when teams move to continuous testing.

#5) Ranorex Studio

Ranorex Studio

Ranorex Studio offers many low-code features, including capture-and-replay functionality to record tests. You can point and click to add parameters and conditions and build data-driven tests.

It also has a full IDE for those who want to program and write test scripts to create automated tests equipped with other productivity features for troubleshooting, refactoring, and more.


Record and playback testing have their pros and cons. It’s not ideal when the UI of an application changes frequently. However, it’s still a great way to enhance your team’s testing if you use it right, especially when you want to move from manual to automated testing.

Choose a tool that can meet both your team’s current and future testing needs. Start with a small number of regression tests and stable UI. Learn from the test scripts generated and the process of using tools to create automated tests. Make small adjustments and scale up. Good luck.