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Favorite Windows 7 Function of the Day: Problem Steps Recorder

By:Christine Fettinger

This is a fantastic tool for those people who need help with a problem but the person helping them is at a different location. It’s called the Problem Steps Recorder and it’s brand new with Windows 7. It will record screenshots and list the steps a user takes while it’s recording and then assemble all that data into a zipped up HTML document you can send to someone.

Imagine you are trying to help someone over the phone or by email. While there is remote session software like Webex or NTRsupport, that will let you see the other user’s screen, sometimes time constraints don’t make that kind of help possible. Instead you can have the user, in their own time, record their activities that produce the problem and send you the file. Then you can analyze it and do any follow-up research before recontacting the user.

Starting up and using the Problem Steps Recorder is simple. The easiest way to launch the application is to just type PSR into the Start Menu Search Bar and hit Enter. Once it’s launched the user will see Start Record and Stop Record, which is pretty self explanatory. While the problem is running, the user can click Pause Record at any time as well. In addition, there is a Add Comment button that will let the user highlight part of the screen and add their own comments to it, perhaps to point out something normally not obvious.

The document that is produced contains both a HTML section and a text file section. The HTML section contains screenshots that have areas of activity marked, along with timestamps and descriptions of the activity. The screenshots can be clicked on for a larger view. The text file section at the bottom contains all the timestamps and activity descriptions that the first section has, but also includes additional details for troubleshooting like the version numbers of running programs.