Problem Steps Recorder in Windows 7 & Windows 2008 R2

One of the coolest little-known features of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is the Problem Steps Recorder. It is a godsend to anyone who must support Windows users who are in a local or remote site. Some years ago I worked the helpdesk at MetLife. This was one of my first jobs in IT and proved to be a tremendous learning experience. We on the helpdesk supported hundreds of applications primarily by telephone. Often the biggest challenge was getting the user to describe accurately what was occurring on their computer screen. Remote Desktop or Remote Assistance would have been a great help but was not available at that time. The Problem Steps Recorder would have made life so much easier.

To launch the Problem Steps Recorder type “problem steps” or PSR in the start menu search text box. (The start menu search feature is one of my favorite things in Vista/Windows 7). The Problem Steps Recorder will launch as a small window on the Desktop. There is a Start Record button, a Stop Record button an Add_Comment button and a timer. After the Start Record button is pushed the details of each mouse movement and click will be written out in a text format and a screen shot of the desktop will be saved as each action is performed by the user. A user can insert comments into the record as it is being created. Problem Steps Recorder will also include technical details useful to a programmer in the text record. To stop the recording click the Stop Record button and select a location to save the record file. Problem Steps Recorder uses an MHTML format for the recording and the file is automatically converted to a self-extracting Zip file to save space.

The record file can sit on the computer hard drive until a support tech can view it or be copied onto a flash drive or attached to an email. It can then be opened on another computer, any computer that has a web browser. I sent a record file made on my Windows 7 machine to my Windows XP computer and XP was able to open it and view all the screen shots and comments. What a great tool! The only problem I have with it is that it is only available on the Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise editions.

Check out the PSR walk-thru at:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/dd320286.aspx

-Mark

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