Testing Captivate 5 with VMware Fusion 3

On the Adobe Captivate Forums, someone asked if Adobe Captivate 5 for Mac OS X could be used to capture Windows applications running via VMware Fusion 3. It was a good question, so I decided to give it a test.

In both cases, what you see here is raw output from a simple capture in demonstration mode, using Captivate’s default settings. The point here isn’t to show off my screencast production chops. The point is to compare raw output when capturing a virtualized app compared to a native one. I’ve kept the default slide duration (3 seconds), so you may have to pause here and there to really see what’s happening. I’ve also kept the default slide quality (low). Feel free to avail yourself of the audio on/off button on the playbar, as that typing sound effect can get a little tedious.

First Test: Microsoft Word 2010 running on a Windows XP (SP3) virtual machine in VMware Fusion 3 on Mac OS X (10.5.8/Leopard):

Word 2010 via VMware Fusion 3

Second Test: iWork Pages ’09 running on Mac OS X (10.5.8/Leopard):

iWork Pages ’09, natively

The comparison shows some useful things. First, Adobe Captivate 5 was able to capture actions in Word 2010 even though it had to navigate through VMware Fusion’s virtualization layer to do it. That’s impressive. The mouse was captured as a separate object, just like it always is, which means you can reposition or hide it in post-production (which has always been one of my favorite features of Adobe Captivate).

On the down side, none of the highlight boxes were properly positioned, and quite a few extraneous text captions (a.k.a. “callouts”) were added, saying “click the Windows XP Professional window.” So, clearly, there were times when Captivate couldn’t determine what to name an interface element. If I were going to do a real project this way, I’d probably disable automatic highlights and text captions and just add my own manually, as that would, on the whole, be less trouble than repositioning and/or deleting all of these.

So, the answer to the question that prompted this post is a qualified yes. Adobe Captivate 5 can, in fact, capture apps running in guest operating systems in VMware Fusion 3, but the raw results of such captures will require more post-production cleanup than you might like.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I was able to capture the screenshots using VMware, but my screen was huge and the Snap To: Custom Size didn’t work for me. Do you have any input on that?

  2. Glad it helped. I think the only real option is to capture a fixed size and adjust the window/area in question so that it falls inside of it. Shooting full screen will grab everything, and Captivate can’t determine the size of windows running inside the VM. So, snap-to-window will grab the VMware window itself, which isn’t usually what you would want.

  3. Hello, I have been able to use Adobe Captivate Mac to capture a windows program running parallels using snow leopard – it allows for selecting the application within windows and gets a perfect capture of the right pane

    But, now using a macbook pro running lion, I am unable to do so. I could capture with fullscreen as you describe, but it is useful how it can grab the correct application pane from windows and be exact in snow leopard and Adobe says they do have not fixed the issue so I either have to capture the entire screen or buy windows captivate.

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