How to Test a Desktop Application?

Desktop Application

Answer to a commonly asked question, “Are Desktop Applications Still Developed ?” is an absolute YES.  Despite the influx of web and mobile apps, Desktop software will stay in fashion. Most of the enterprise applications are installation based and used hardware resources to run. Many real time systems are still desktop based due to their performance capabilities. Lets have a quick glimpse on how we can test these apps for ensuring smooth functionality.

Desktop applications run on personal computers and work stations, a specific environment acts as a baseline for your test plan. One can test the complete application broadly in categories like Graphical User Interface, Functionality, Load,  etc. A desktop application is usually used by a single user at a time and needs to be installed as an exe file hence highlighting the need for installation testing.


While testing desktop applications the nature of defects are usually different as compared to other apps. Most common defects in the desktop applications are:

  • Incorrect shortcut icon
  • Unauthorized features which the application might install without taking input from user
  • The process may still be running in the background even after uninstalling the application
  • Platform dependency issues
  • Incorrect warning messages
  • Unauthorized access to the restricted applications from other users


Creating a testing checklist is an integral part of the process of writing test cases. With the help of such checklist one can easily create hundreds of test cases for testing desktop applications. Testing checklist for desktop applications may include the following:

1- Graphical User Interface Testing

2- Functional Testing

  • Check for broken links
  • Warning messages
  • Resolution change effect on the application
  • Print
  • Theme change
  • Installation Testing (Upgrade/Downgrade)
  • Testing with multiple user accounts
  • Sleep mode
  • Cache

3- Platform Compatibility Testing

  • Testing the application on different operating systems

4- Performance Testing

  • Long period of continuous use
  • Memory
  • Generate “Power Efficiency Diagnostics Report” by running the command powercfg /energy


Here is a list of some tools that are commonly used as an industry practice to test desktop apps.

Regression Testing Tools:

  • AutoIt
  • AutoHotkey
  • TestSmith
  • QAliber

Stress Testing Tools:

  • File Fuzzer
  • Disk Hog


Desktop applications are different from web applications in many aspects. Following are the key differences between desktop applications and web applications which will help you to effectively test both the desktop applications and the web applications.


Desktop Applications

Web Applications

Run on personal computers and work stationsRun on browsers
Need to be Installed separately on each computerNo installation required
Every change only reflects at the machine levelEvery change in the program reflects everywhere
We can have a total control over the desktop applications and protect them from various vulnerabilitiesWeb applications have more security risks than the desktop applications, it is open to everyone on the internet
Specific machines/computers are needed where the applications are installedCan be used from any PC with any web browser where internet is available
Performance depends upon the computer speedPerformance mainly depends upon internet speed
Data is stored on the same PC where the user is accessing the machineData is stored remotely
Major concern is to test the app on different hardware as well as on different Operating SystemsMajor concern is to test the web app in different browsers
We cannot monitor the user actionsIt’s easier to monitor every users’ actions, get full statistics and feedback

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