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From the Tips Box: Recording Windows, Extending Battery Life, and Supercharging CCleaner

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It’s time to delve into the tips box and share this week’s top reader tips. Today we’re looking at an easy and built-in way to record problems in Windows, squeezing life out of your batteries, and supercharging CCleaner.

Recording Windows for Problem Diagnosis and Tutorials

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How-To Geek reader Mark shares an interesting tip for using a built-in Windows tool that many people aren’t even aware of:

A few months ago I stumbled upon a really useful little application tucked away in Windows 7. There’s an app called “Problem Steps Recorder” that allows you to record your screen as an HTML slide show. It’s really handy when you don’t need the overhead of a full out recording and audio track.

You just start it, and then do whatever it is you want to record. Every time you use the mouse or keyboard it snaps a screenshot. When you’re done you can add comments to the slideshow you’ve made. It’s super easy to use. I use it to make tutorials for my coworkers and relatives and I’ve trained my relatives to use it before bugging me with a problem they have. It makes trouble shooting way easier!

Problem Steps Recorder seems like an easy to use compromise between using a single screen shot and going to full video. To access the Problem Steps Recorder click on the start button and then type “problem steps” in the run box. Nice find Mark!

Extending the Life of Batteries

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Shelly writes in with an easy way to squeeze life out of disposable batteries:

I have two tricks I use for getting more juice out of my batteries before throwing them away. The first is “the swap” and the second is “the conveyor”. I’m not sure why this works (maybe the individual terminals in electronic devices don’t have equal pull from the batteries?) but if you simply remove the batteries from a device and rotate their position within the battery compartment you can often get more juice from them. I do this with my remote controls and just changing the batteries around often gets me a month or more extra use!

The other trick I use, the conveyor, is where I move batteries from high-energy use items to low-energy use items. Batteries that were in my camera flash almost always have more than enough life to power my wireless keyboard for months after they’ve become too weak to power the big capacitor in the flash anymore. If you think in terms of a battery being a person who is fatigued and able to do less instead of in terms of it either being on or off, you’ll start to see places where you can put the battery to work!

Great tips Shelly. If you’ve purchased premium batteries for a high-energy device it’s nice to know you can squeeze life out of them in the light-duty items like TV remotes.

Supercharge Your Installation of CCleaner

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Nick writes in with a way to supercharge your CCleaner installation:

I love CCleaner. Sometimes I run it even when I probably don’t need to just to see all those temp files go shooting into the proverbial ash can. Unfortunately CCleaner only, be default, works with so many programs. I recently discovered a great add-on that extends the reach of CCleaner called CCEnhancer. You install it and it adds in almost 300 new programs to the CCleaner cleaning database! After I installed it and ran it for the first time I freed up an additional 3GB of hard drive space just from miscellaneous files generated by programs I’d never have even thought to look (like DVD burning software caches). It’s great!

We’re all for anything that makes the already useful CCleaner even more useful. You can download a copy of CCEnhancer here.


Have a great tip to share? Shoot us an email at tips@howtogeek.com and we’ll do our best to get it on the front page.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/28/11

Comments (14)

  1. Rusty

    That recorder is nice, why do they hide stuff like that it seems so stupid to make people look for stuff like that it would be really helpful for almost any person to know of this tool.

  2. Steve Wayne

    And just how do you edit this mhtml file you have created?

  3. willjon

    i hope this the place to comment on cc i tried it once it near wrecked my pc it is the ultimate CRAP worst program i have seen willjon

  4. A

    hmmm. I usually just recharge the batteries, even the Alkalines. I have a special charger that doesn’t overwork the batteries and make them explode when charged. It works.

  5. Tony

    I agree. These “hidden applications” that Microsoft includes but doesn’t reveal to everyday users is somewhat useless. If you want consumers to really like your stuff & use it, let them know about the “perks.”
    CCleaner is an awesome program and I agree, I sometimes run it just to get the “stragglers” on my computer off. I’ve yet to try CCEnhancer, but it is definitely on my list to try for cleaning & having a “fine tuned” machine!

  6. jimy

    willjon, not sure what happened there with your PC, but I’ve been using CCleaner for years on all my computers and never had a problem as have many others. I think CCleaner is one of the best free prgrams available.

  7. Andy

    I have to agree with Jimy here Willjon, I too have been using CCleaner for years and it’s one of the safest and most reliable clean up utilities around. It also makes a System Restore point so you can undo any changes to the registry. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience.
    Thanks for the Problem Steps Recorder info, why on Earth do they hide these things away?

  8. Andy

    You can find the tool here C:\Windows\System32\psr.exe if you want to pin it to your Start Menu or create a shortcut.

  9. Nick

    Re getting more life out of your batteries by swapping them, I suspect the main reason why this works is that a little oxidisation builds up on the terminals, adding a little resistance to the circuit. Disturbing them removes the oxidisation. I often just rotate or remove and replace batteries which brings a device back to life.

  10. sVen

    @Willjon– CCleaner is the best cleaner I know of. One bad experience doesn’t mean a product is crap. Maybe it had ‘operator trouble’. Anyway, you might try it without enabling every option….. Left as it is at install, it is safe, efficient, and fairly operator proof. :)

  11. joni

    Have Windows 7 home premium. Tried Problem recorder as per instructions, unable to find it , instead kept getting the error message Windows cannot find problem, make sure you have typed correctly and try again. Have tried all combinations in run box always with same error message

  12. Birte

    In case some Germans search for the Problem Steps Recorder, it’s called “Problemaufzeichnung”

  13. christian

    Wow. Loving the recording program. Definitely saves time for presentations involving steps. Oddly enough, it does not give the location/name of the program, or the ability to pin it to the start menu or taskbar. It took a minute, but I discovered its named “psr.exe” and it is in the System32 folder.

    opened via start menu search > clicked help > right clicked help file screen > viewed source > found phrase used in help file before the program link > Viola! scanning the following output command revealed the needed info. Don’t you just love page source!

  14. Hank W.

    Hey Willjon,
    You mustn’t have checked out too many programs because Ccleaner is one of the best freebies you can get on the net. Been using it for years on multiple computers, laptops and netbooks and haven’t had a problem with it yet.

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