My New Pet Hate

I have a new pet hate.

A personal pet hate of mine for a long while has been that often, when I ask somebody for a screenshot to show me what’s going wrong with some software they’re using, they’ll take a screenshot or two, then paste them into a Microsoft Word document, and then e-mail me the Word document.

Why would you do such a thing? You’ve got Paint: paste it into Paint and save it, and you’ll get:

  • A faster result. Paint loads a lot faster than Word.
  • A smaller file. Even a Bitmap saved in Paint (the default) will usually be smaller than a Word document. A JPEG or a PNG will be even smaller still, which means it’s more suitable for e-mail and be faster still.
  • A more-compatible result. Just about anybody can open whatever you produce with Paint, without requiring a word-processor that’s compatible with the version of Word you’re using).

And that’s without even looking at the benefit directly to me: that I don’t need to re-extract your pictures so that I can upload actual pictures, not a document, to our bug tracking system, or the benefit that I can view thumbnails of your screenshots to sort and manage them easily.

But no; I have a new pet hate:

It’s when somebody who’s using Microsoft Outlook sends me a HTML e-mail with several screenshots… each one of them inside a separate Word document attached to the message. WTF?

  1. You could just have pasted the image straight into Outlook. Less work for you, easier for me, faster for everybody. It’s just like pasting it into Word, except you don’t have to open Word (or create a new document), and the images end up stored more-like actual images attached to an e-mail.
  2. One Word document per screenshot? Why? Do you just enjoy thinking about the fact that I’ll now have to open 15 – yes, 15! – different Word documents just to extract the screenshot from each and save it as an image file like you should have in the first place!

Sorry; it’s probably just me who gets bugged quite so much by this.

Update, 15th June 2011: almost two years later, I’ve revisited this topic having found something even more annoying than using Word documents as a medium for screenshots…


  1. Mosh Mosh says:

    Could be worse. They could be using sodding docx format.

  2. Dan Q Dan Q says:


    To be fair, I’ve honestly got no huge problem with .docx format. Having read the specs and reverse-engineered both .doc and .docx, I genuinely prefer it – as a standard. And at least it can easily be made to work properly with older versions of Word, as well (because the standard is published) as by third-party applications like

  3. Rory Rory says:

    I too have been confounded by receiving screenshots in word docs before. Microsoft need to copy Apple’s way of doing it – the default behaviour on the Mac is for screenshots to appear as numbered (and now dated) files on the desktop. You have to hold down an extra key for them just to be copied to the clipboard. There are lots of wonderful features as well, like the ability to capture a single window, icon, menu or arbitrary portion of the screen which is very handy.

  4. Dan Q Dan Q says:


    Agreed, although I’m not sure about the “files on the desktop” metaphor, not least because it causes confusion if you’re to take multiple screenshots in a series in which the desktop can be seen. Vista and Windows 7 take a step in the right direction with the “Snipping Tool”, which is quite nice, but doesn’t go far enough to make itself obvious (it should be *bound* to the Print Screen key that users are already so keen on using, unless turned off).

  5. Mosh Mosh says:

    Fair point… now. But docx caused me huge headaches when Office2007 was first released – before OO supported it and before MS saw fit to release conversion programs for older versions. It is much more efficient – I was amazed how much smaller a file was compared to saving as Office97 format.

    Way to go ripping off OpenOffice, Mr Gates ;)

Reply here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reply on your own site

Reply by email

I'd love to hear what you think. Send an email to; be sure to let me know if you're happy for your comment to appear on the Web!