POPFile Message Capture utility



By default POPFile runs invisibly in the background. Some POPFile status, warning and error messages can only be seen if POPFile is configured to display the console window (DOS box). On some systems this console window may close when POPFile exits which can make it difficult to make a note of any error messages. Messages can also be lost as the console window often only has 25 lines available and messages can scroll off the top of the window (e.g. some of the normal POPFile startup messages will disappear).

The POPFile Message Capture Utility has been created to make it easy to capture all of the console messages output by POPFile. Instead of showing the console window used by POPFile, the utility hides the console window and displays the messages in a scrollable window. The contents of this scrollable window can be copied to the clipboard (using the right-click menu) and then saved in a text file.

Start Menu shortcut (0.22.5 or later)

The 0.22.5 (or later) installer creates a Start Menu shortcut for this utility:

Start → All Programs → POPFile → Support → Message Capture Utility

This shortcut can be used to start POPFile instead of the normal method. (If POPFile is already running, please shut it down before using this shortcut.)

This shortcut is intended for occasional use. If more frequent use is required it is easy to configure POPFile to use this utility whenever console mode is selected via the CONFIGURATION page in the UI. See “Using the utility instead of the console window or DOS-box” below for instructions.

Although the installers for POPFile 0.22.0, 0.22.1, 0.22.2, 0.22.3 and 0.22.4 install this utility in the POPFile program folder they do not create a Start Menu shortcut for this utility because some versions of Windows require special preparation before the utility can be used. The 0.22.5 installer was the first installer to incorporate this extra code.

Using the utility instead of the console window or DOS-box

If required, the Windows version of POPFile 0.22.0 (or later) can be made to run this utility whenever 'console mode' is selected. This utility will run POPFile using either 'popfilef.exe' or 'popfileif.exe' depending upon the current system tray icon setting in the POPFile configuration file ('popfile.cfg').

This means the POPFile UI can be used to enable/disable this utility by changing the “Run POPFile in a console window?” setting on the Configuration page or by changing the 'windows_console' setting on the Advanced page (1 = enable, 0 = disable).

To use this feature, rename the file 'msgcapture.exe' as 'pfimsgcapture.exe' (or make a copy of it and call the copy 'pfimsgcapture.exe') then start POPFile using a shortcut created by the installer or by running the program 'runpopfile.exe' (found in the main POPFile program folder).

To return to using a DOS-box when console mode is selected, rename the 'pfimsgcapture.exe' program as 'msgcapture.exe' (or delete it if you created it by renaming a copy of 'msgcapture.exe').

Although this utility was created for the POPFile 0.22.0 installer, it will work with POPFile 0.20.x and 0.21.x if they were installed using the Windows installer (in some cases a small batch file will be required, see below).

Debugging Aid

By default POPFile does not display the console messages. To help diagnose problems where POPFile does not appear to start up properly, the utility can be used to temporarily override the current configuration and display the console messages.

Starting with the 0.22.5 release the installer creates a Start Menu shortcut for the utility:

Start → Programs → POPFile → Support → Message Capture utility

(this shortcut will work on Windows 9x as well as on more modern versions of Windows)

If you prefer you can run the utility (msgcapture.exe) manually to start POPFile (instead of the normal method) but if you are using Windows 9x you will need to use a batch file to run the utility (see the next section) instead of just running msgcapture.exe.

The Message Capture utility will perform some simple validity checks, start POPFile and display the console messages which are normally hidden. If POPFile detects a problem it sometimes shuts itself down after showing some error messages.

Windows 9x systems

The installer for POPFile 0.22.5 (or later) creates a Start Menu shortcut for the Message Capture utility which works on Windows 9x systems.

For POPFile 0.22.4 (or earlier) a batch file is required to run the Message Capture utility on Windows 9x systems. Some installers create a suitable batch file (pfi-run.bat).

The POPFILE_ROOT and POPFILE_USER environment variables are used to find the POPFile program files and the user's POPFile configuration file.

On Windows 9x systems (and on all systems which have POPFile 0.20.x) a small batch file should be used to create suitable environment variables and run this utility. The environment variables should not contain any spaces, so the short file name format (SFN) is recommended.

Recent Windows installers create a suitable batch file ('pfi-run.bat') in the 'User Data' folder. By default this batch file will use the Message Capture utility to run POPFile.

If you are using an old version of POPFile then you will have to create your own batch file. For example, on a system which has POPFile 0.20.0 installed in the default location on drive C (C:\Program Files\POPFile) the following batch file can be used:

      @echo off

assuming the batch file has been placed in the folder which contains the Message Capture utility.

An easy way to run the batch file created by the installer (or the batch file you have created) is to double-click its icon. A DOS box should appear briefly, followed by the window for the “POPFile Message Capture Utility”.

If all you see is a DOS box popping up and instantly disappearing (with no Message Capture Utility window appearing), you will need to allocate some more environment space for the batch file.

To do this, right-click the pfi-run.bat icon, select “Properties”, select the “Memory” tab and look at the “Initial environment” value (at the top right).

If the setting is “Auto”, select “512” from the list, click “Apply” and “OK”.

If the setting is not “Auto” then select a higher value (e.g. if the value is “512” then change it to “768”).

After increasing the environment space, double-click the 'pfi-run.bat' icon to start the POPFile Message Capture Utility.

By default the utility will wait until POPFile exits (via a normal shutdown, manual termination of the process or a crash).


The utility will accept timeout values in the range 0 to 99 seconds, e.g. the command “msgcapture.exe /TIMEOUT=30” will make the utility exit if 30 seconds pass without any messages being received from POPFile. When the timeout expires the utility exits but leaves POPFile running.

Separate Download

The Message Capture utility is included in the Windows versions of POPFile 0.22.0 or later. It can also be downloaded separately (43 KB zip file).

Finding the POPFile program and POPFile data folders

If you are not sure where the POPFile program files and/or the 'User Data' files are stored, use the following Start Menu shortcut to find out:

Start → Programs → POPFile → Support → PFI Diagnostic utility (simple)

This shortcut is created by the Windows installer for POPFile 0.22.0 or later. The diagnostic utility can also be downloaded separately (62 KB zip file)

howtos/messagecapture.txt · Last modified: 2010/08/04 20:46 by

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