Problem Steps Recorder – The Windows secret your helpdesk loves

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Windows problem steps recorder

You’ve tried clicking on every button, held down every key, but your application still won’t work. The same error screen keeps coming up, then another one, and they all look the same: “Windows error 0x8bla bla bla, bla”. It seems your computer is out to get you.

Trying to explain this to your support team can be difficult if not impossible. Luckily there is a little known utility that comes with Windows 7 and above called the Problem Steps Recorder. This handy tool records your keyboard commands and mouse clicks, and takes screenshots as windows change (The application does not record every word you type but does detect keyboard input and commands). It is also important to remember that this program takes screenshots of everything on your screen, so you may want to close any sensitive files you may have open before using the tool.

This tool can be invaluable for showing your support team what went wrong, saving time troubleshooting and minimizing the time support needs to spend on your computer to reproduce the problem.

To use the tool, follow these instructions:

Launch the application by typing psr.exe from a command prompt or the search bar. Figure 1


The tool takes a screenshot each time you click or enter text. There is a 25 screenshot default, so if you think you might need more, click the down arrow and choose Settings. Increase the number in the field “Number of recent screen captures to store” to a suitable number and click ok. Figure 2


Once the program starts, you can click the “Start Record” button. While recording, you can push the “Add Comment” button to highlight and comment on specific areas of the screen. Figure 3


When finished recording what you would like to record, simply push the “Stop Record” and the recorded output will be displayed. Figure 4


Review the screenshots to verify they don’t reveal anything you’d rather we didn’t see, and then click Save. A ZIP file will be saved to the location you chose.  Email it to your support team, with any other details we might need to know.


Problem Steps Recorder is only available in Windows 8 (including Windows 8.1), Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008.

Unfortunately, there is no equivalent Microsoft provided program available for Windows Vista, Windows XP, or other Microsoft operating systems prior to Windows 7. One more reason to get rid of those pesky XP workstations!

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