How many times have you longed for a tool that does your step-by-step documentation for you? Whether you’re documenting the steps to recreate an issue or simply sharing the flow of “click here, then there, etc.,” wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to spend all of that time gathering screenshots and writing it all out? Well, guess what? As of Windows 7, wish granted.
The Problem Steps Recorder utility built into the OS automatically captures the steps you take on a computer, including a text description of where you clicked and a picture of the screen during each click. (For XP or Vista users, there is a free download available on TechNet called Screenrecorder that does the same thing. It requires the .NET 3.5 Framework.)
Note that when you record steps on your computer, anything you type will not be recorded. If what you type is an important part of recreating the problem you’re trying to solve, use the comment feature to highlight where the problem is occurring.
- Open Problem Steps Recorder by clicking the Start button, and then typing psr. In the list of results, click psr.
- Click Start Record. On your computer, go through the steps on your computer to reproduce the problem. You can pause the recording at any time, and then resume it later.
- When you want to add a comment, click Add Comment. Use your mouse to highlight the part of the screen that you want to comment on, type your text in the Highlight Problem and Comment box, and then click OK.
- Click Stop Record.
- In the Save As dialog box, type a name for the file, and then click Save (the file is saved with the .zip file name extension).
To view the record of the steps you recorded, open the .zip file you just saved, and then double-click the file. The document will open in your browser.
You can change the following settings (Click the help down arrow, and then click Settings):
- Output Location. If you don’t want to be prompted to save a file after recording, click the Browse button to set a default output file name.
- Enable screen capture. If you don’t want to capture the screen shots along with the click information, select No. This might be a consideration if you are taking screen shots of a program that contains personal information, such as bank statements, and you are sharing the screen shots with someone else.
- Number of recent screen captures to store. While the default is 25 screens, you can increase or decrease the number of screen shots. Problem Steps Recorder only records the default number of screen shots. For example, if you took 30 screen shots during a recording but only had 25 screen shots as the default, you would be missing the first five screen shots. In this case, you would want to increase the number of default screen shots.