How to Use Steps Recorder

Document computer issues in Windows with Steps Recorder

Steps Recorder is a tool available in newer versions of Windows that helps you document an issue with your computer so someone else can help you troubleshoot it and figure out what's wrong.

With Steps Recorder, formerly called Problem Steps Recorder or PSR, a recording is made of the actions you take on your computer which you can then send to the person or group helping you with your computer problem.

Making a recording is extremely easy to do which is a major reason it's such a valuable tool. There are other programs that can record your screen but Microsoft has made this process very easy and specific to problem-helping.

This program works in Windows 10Windows 8, and Windows 7.

How to Use Steps Recorder

  1. Open the Start menu or the Run dialog box (WIN+R or with the Power User Menu in Windows 10/8).

  2. Enter the following command to immediately open Steps Recorder:

    psr
    Steps Recorder in Windows 8

    This is an unusually small, rectangular program, and it often appears near the top of the screen. It could be easy to miss depending on what you already have open and running on your computer.

  3. Close any open windows other than Steps Recorder.

    The tool will make screenshots of what's on your computer screen and include those in the recording you save and then send off for support. Unrelated open programs in the screenshots could be distracting.

  4. Before you start the recording, think about the process involved in producing whatever issue you're trying to demonstrate.

    For example, if you're seeing an error message when saving a new Microsoft Word document, you would want to make sure you're ready to open Word, type a few words, navigate to the menu, save the document, and then, hopefully, see the error message pop up on the screen.

    In other words, you should be prepared to properly reproduce whatever problem you're seeing so Steps Recorder can catch it in action.

  5. Select Start Record.

    Another way to start recording is with the Alt+A hotkey on your keyboard, but this only works if the program is "active" (i.e., it was the last program you clicked on).

    Steps Recorder in Windows 8

    Steps Recorder will now log information and take a screenshot every time you complete an action, like a mouse click, finger tap, program opening or closing, etc.

    You can tell when it's recording when the Start Record button changes to a Pause Record button.

  6. Complete whatever steps necessary to show the problem you're having.

    If you need to pause the recording for some reason, select Pause Record. Use Resume Record to continue without fully stopping.

    During a recording, you can also press the Add Comment button to highlight a section of your screen and manually add a comment. This is really useful if you'd like to point out something specific that's occurring on the screen to the person who's helping you out.

  7. Select Stop Record to quit recording your actions.

  8. Once stopped, you'll see the results of the recording in a report that appears below the original Steps Recorder window.

    In early versions of this tool, you may be first prompted to save the recorded steps. If so, in the File name: textbox on the Save As window that appears, give a name to this recording and then press the Save button. Skip to Step 10.

  9. Assuming the recording looks helpful, and you don't see anything sensitive in the screenshots like passwords or payment information, it's time to save the recording.

    Choose Save and then, in the File name: textbox on the Save As window that appears next, name the recording and then select Save.

    A single ZIP file containing all of the information recorded by Steps Recorder will be created and saved to your Desktop unless you chose a different location.

  10. You can now close the program.

The only thing left to do is get the file you saved to the person or group helping you out with your problem.

Depending on who's helping you (and what kind of problem you're having right now), options for sending the Steps Recorder file might include:

  • Attaching it to an email and sending it to tech support, your computer expert friend, etc.
  • Copying the file to a network share or flash drive.
  • Attaching it to a forum post and asking for help.
  • Uploading the file to a file sharing service and linking to it when asking for help online.

More Help With Steps Recorder

If you're planning a complicated or lengthy recording (specifically, more than 25 clicks/taps or keyboard actions), consider increasing the number of screenshots it will capture.

You can do this by choosing the down arrow next to the question mark. Go to Settings and change Number of recent screen captures to store from the default of 25 to some number above what you think you might need.