Windows 7 has introduced a neat new feature for recording and reporting bugs to developers. The utility is called Problem Steps Recorder, or PSR. The utility is a bit hidden and I've personally found not too many people know about it. Within this short article (tip), I want to introduce the utility and show application users AND developers how they can use it to capture and report bugs.
The utility itself consists of a simple dialog with start/stop controls as well as enables the ability for a user to enter comments at any point. When a user "starts" recording, the utility will track everything the user does taking screen shots along the way. Once the user reproduces the problem, he simply "stops" recording and sends the generated zipped file to someone who can troubleshoot the bug.
Using the utility effectively consists of only a few simple steps:
- Launch PSR utility
- Start capture
- Reproduce bug/problem
- Stop capture
- Take generated zipped file and email to your development support staff
Finding the utility
Probably a good reason as to why people don't commonly know about the recording utility is that the utility itself is somewhat hidden. This is of course with good reason, since it is only of use when there is some bug reporting/tracking that needs to take place.
The best and fastest way to find the utility is to go to the Windows 7 search pane and type "psr". You should see psr.exe pop up in the search results. Launch the utility by selecting it (right click and "run as administrator" is the preferred method).
Type "psr" into the search field to find the utility
Using Problem Steps Recorder
After finding and launching the PSR utility, it is relatively straight forward to create a set of captures.
Hit "Start Record" to begin capture
Start capture by pressing the "Start Record" button. From this point forward, everything you do will be tracked and screenshots will be recorded. Reproduce the bug you are interested in reporting.
Select "Stop Record" when the problem has been captured
Once you've reproduced the bug, you can select "Stop Record" to stop the capture and the utility will prompt for a file name and location for the zipped set of files that it has captured.
The zipped file is now ready to send to your development support staff.
Viewing the capture
For those that are merely reporting a bug and not actually attempting to view a file, this section can be skipped. It is merely here to show what is included in the compressed file that the utility generated. If you are interested in taking a peak at what has been captured by the program, then continue on, otherwise you may skip this section.
The capture is simply an mht file that can be viewed in a variety of browsers. To view it, make sure it is uncompressed (the PSR utility will compress/zip the file) and open it in your browser (for example IE). It can be browsed as any simple webpage would and it contains screen shots for only the last 25 steps from the point when the user stopped recording (this number is simply the default and can be increased or decreased in the settings).
Screenshots captured of user actions as viewed through IE
User comments will be annotated but be warned, the user comments are not really highlighted in any way (you'd figure this would be of importance and therefore highlighted).
User comment annotation
For more information
Find more information directly from Microsoft at:
[20AUG12] Original tip posting.