Logging user actions in Windows: Ask or offer technical support

A little-known utility hidden in the folds of Windows allows you to record your actions with your PC and create a final report.

All versions of Windows, even those no longer supported by Microsoft, integrate a system utility that allows you to record the steps that are performed.

Recording user actions is a little-known tool that is useful for requesting or providing technical support: the program in fact records on file which points on the screen the user has clicked on, which keys he has pressed and what is displayed.

In fact, the file produced by User Action Recording also contains the screenshots gradually acquired in Windows when the user presses a key or uses the mouse or touchpad.

To start the application just type Logging user actions in the Windows search box or press Windows+R , type psr and press the Enter key.

If User Action Logging does not start, you are using a policy on your system that does not allow its use.

To unlock User Action Logging just type cmd in the Windows search box, select Run as administrator then paste the following:

reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\AppCompat /v DisableUAR /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

Alternatively, just press Windows+R , type regedit , navigate to the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\AppCompat , double-click on the DisableUAR value in the right panel and indicate 0 instead of 1.

User Action Logging will now start normally as described above.

Record your actions in Windows

If you are asking for support and want to show another person what is happening on your system, you can simply start Logging User Actions and then click Start Logging .

By clicking on Add comment you can draw a rectangle around an element shown on the screen and insert a comment to better clarify what is happening or provide indications on the steps to be taken.

Once you click on Stop recording , you get a document (scroll down) with the precise indication of all the operations that have been performed and what is shown on the video.

By clicking on Save you get a compressed archive in Zip format which contains an MHT file inside. An abbreviation of MIME HTML, MHT files were created to bring together in a single file both the source of an HTML page and the other elements it calls, including images.

Mainly for security reasons, the MHT format has “fallen out of favor” and its content is no longer displayed correctly by any browser. In this case the text will be read but the styles and images will not be loaded.

To solve the problem, just don’t use the Save button in the User Action Recording utility , but press the CTRL+A combination when the Recorded Steps page appears, then CTRL+C to copy all the steps to the clipboard.

At this point you can open a blank document in Word and press CTRL+V to paste what you previously copied to the clipboard. At this point, by clicking on File, Export, Create PDF/XPS you can create a PDF document to send to the other person to whom you are asking for help or to whom support is to be provided.

Alternatively, especially if the User Action Logging utility is used by someone who needs to provide technical support for another user, you can launch the Edge browser in Windows then type the following in the address bar:

Under Allow sites to reload in Internet Explorer mode, select Allow and then restart Edge.

Clicking Save in the User Action Logging window then double-clicking the MHT file will display the contents of the file incorrectly using Edge.

However, by clicking on the three dots at the top right and then on Reload in Internet Explorer mode , the content of the file will appear correctly.

By right-clicking on the page, selecting Print then Microsoft Print to PDF you can generate a PDF document with all the steps performed.

The file in PDF format can then be sent by email or via the various instant messaging apps, making it easy and immediate for anyone to open. Much better than the outdated MHT format.

We close with a final “gem” which we have already talked about in the article on the best tricks for Windows : pressing CTRL+C when an error message appears, all the contents of the window will be copied to the clipboard and can be pasted elsewhere ( CTRL+ V ).





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