Obscure Win7 tools can save you time and trouble

Michael lasky
By Michael Lasky

Some of Windows 7’s best new features aren’t so easy to find.

These include a problem recorder to aid tech support, a list of the programs affected by a System Restore, more precise power adjustments for notebooks and netbooks, and keyboard shortcuts that open system resources.

Somehow, the new tools have been lost in all the Windows 7 hype. That’s a shame, because they can increase your productivity tremendously. Unfortunately, finding them is often like hunting for snipes. Here’s a quick review of my favorite, little-known Win7 features.

Win7’s troubleshooter is a boon to tech support

One of Win7’s handiest new tools is the Problem Steps Recorder, a sort of help-desk aphrodisiac. When something goes haywire with your PC, tech-support staff will usually ask you to reproduce the specific sequence of actions that led to the problem. But trying to explain what happened — and when it happened — can be difficult.

Problem Steps Recorder to the rescue! To launch the utility, press the Windows key, type psr, and press Enter. Click Start Recorder and redo the steps that led to the problem. PSR records every mouse click and key press. It also creates screen shots and zips the lot into an MHTML file you can send as an e-mail attachment to tech support. (See Figure 1.)

Windows 7 problem steps recorder

Figure 1. Windows 7’s Problem Steps Recorder allows support staff to review the actions causing a PC glitch.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2009-12-17:

Michael Lasky

About Michael Lasky

WS contributing editor Michael Lasky is a freelance writer based in Oakland, California, who has 20 years of computer-magazine experience, most recently as senior editor at PC World.