How to Use Steps Recorder

Document computer issues in Windows with Steps Recorder

What to Know

  • Press Win + R > enter psr > close everything but Steps Recorder > prepare to recreate the issue.
  • Next, select Start Record > perform actions to recreate issue > select Stop and Review when done.
  • Finally, confirm the recording shows the issue > check for sensitive information > Save > name file and Save.

This article explains how to use Steps Recorder (formerly called Problem Steps Recorder or PSR,) in Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7.

How to Use Steps Recorder

The primary reason to use Steps Recorder is to document a process that leads to an error, which can then be shown to a tech expert for assistance.

Here's how to get started:

  1. Open the Start menu or the Run dialog box (WIN + R or with the Power User Menu in Windows 11/10/8).

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

    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, 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 Pause Record.

  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 (in some Windows versions) 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 and Review, or Stop Record in some versions, 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 text box, name the recording and 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.

What to Do With Your New Steps Recorder File

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 through the program's settings. Choose Settings (it's in the down arrow next to the question mark in some versions), and change Number of recent screen captures to store from the default of 25 to some number above what you think you might need.

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