Problem Steps Recorder Is An Amazing Troubleshooting Tool


Problem Steps RecorderWe've all been there. A friend calls up, saying that they're having a problem with their computer. Every time they open a particular document file, the computer hangs.

As the troubleshooter on the other end of the phone, you probably start with the 2 basic questions. Firstly, "what precisely were you doing when the computer hung?". Secondly, "what did the problem actually look like?".

The user will, of course, provide 2 perfectly sensible answers. But they will both be wrong. When they listed the steps that they were doing to make the PC crash, they forgot a couple of key actions. And they're almost certainly mis-quoting the error message.

Wouldn't it be handy if there was a simple way of recording a user's actions leading up to a problem? As a troubleshooter, you can ask the user to create the recording and send it to you to analyze. As a power user, you can make it easy to file bug reports about other people's software by simply creating a recording and sending it to the relevant company or department. Then there's no way they can deny that the bug really did happen.

As you might expect, from the nature of this column, such a tool exists and it's free. What's more, you don't even need to download or install it because it's actually built right into Windows. It's been there since version 7 and it's still there in 10. It's called the Problem Steps Recorder, or PSR.

To find it, the easiest option is to type PSR into the search box on your PC. Once it's running, click on the Start Recording button and then carry out some tasks on your PC. When you're done, stop recording, and you can then review the playback. What you get is a scrollable list of actions (such as "user clicked on Save button"), plus a collection of screen shots. You can view the report right away, or save it and send it to someone else.

PSR is a really handy tool. I have no idea why Microsoft doesn't publicise it more.

Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
Average: 4.6 (60 votes)


It seems to work for others, but my problem is that when I click (double click) on a file I get an error message which reads 'A required privilege is not held by the client'. This means that I can't run (or update) any new files on my computer, and so this programme seems to offer no solution. I have been trying to sort out my problem online with an MVP (Microsoft most Valued Professional), but everything suggested so far hasn't worked. I'm so desperate that I'm going to try a complete back up of my computer in the next few days and then try a factory reset. If that doesn't work it looks as though I'll have to sell a couple of my grandchildren into slavery to fund my replacement laptop.

Excellent! Somehow I have never been aware of this tool. I'm still on Windows 7 Pro. I just tested PSR and it worked great. Thanks!

Thanks for the tip! Worked nicely with screenshots and descriptions. Have heard about it but had forgotten about it. Windows 7. Thanks again!

I'm experiencing the same problem as rangergord. PSR doesn't open when clicked, even when attempting to open as Administrator.

Had never heard of it, thanks for the tip.

I just put 'step recorder' into cortina and it showed up. Win10 Home edition
Awesome find. Hadn't a clue this existed.

Anyone help with this? I found psr.exe in my WIn10 Pro system BUT when I click on it nothing happens. I checked Task Manager and it is not showing in either the Apps, Background Processes, or WIndows Processes. I have a Win7 partition and it works great here. Must have done something in my Win10.
Help appreciated as this looks like a valuable tool.

I am having the same problem. Tried as many things as I can think of with no luck. Any and all ideas appreciated.

Problem Steps Recorder is a superb utility.
In windows 8.1 & 10 it's just called Steps Recorder.