If you’ve ever offered technical support to other computer users, you might find yourself losing a slice of your sanity over their inability to describe the problem clearly. And most times it’s not the fault of the user, it’s just difficult to describe what you see with words. A feature new to Windows 7, called “Problem Steps Recorder” looks to be the missing tool for documenting where it all goes wrong.
What the tool is a simple but advanced variation of a screen capture software. Think of it as an automated “Print Screen” plus a little monkey in the background documenting all the mouse clicks, key strokes and gathers some technical reading material, who then ties up everything in a neat box and saves the results. The neat little box you get is a zipped MHTML report page which can be sent off directly to the help desk.
The report page is where this tool really shines. It actually is an XML page documenting each step of the user’s actions complete with a screenshot with the item highlighted. You can view the report as is, or as a slideshow, or even dig into the raw XML to expose greater detail like the X&Y coordinates of the mouse.
Here’s a report I prepared earlier for your viewing pleasure. You must use Internet Explorer to view MHTMLs.
To try the “Problem Steps Recorder” for yourself, type and select “psr.exe” in the Windows 7 start menu.