Home > Computer/Technology > The Start-Run Command in Windows

The Start-Run Command in Windows

The Run command line in Windows is used primarily for opening things. It is so much quicker to open things this way instead of going though a myriad of interfaces and menus to open what you want. The run command line is very rarely used which is a pity, as it is often the quickest way to launch programs or to open folders and documents. You should remember which commands are available to you but you don’t have to know everything of course, just the essentials. With frequent usage you will remember them easily. In this post i’m show you how to open applications, folders and adding your own application you want to start from your custom made Run command.

Chapter 0x001 – Launching the Run dialog box

Any one of these:

Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> Run
Go to Start, select Run
press Windows key + r (This is the one you should use 🙂 )

Chapter 0x002 – Where are the applications that we launch come from?

The Executables are located in the path environment [variable]. The path environment contain a set of folders where the application you launch is found. The path environment variable normally includes \Windows\ and \Windows\system32\ by default. You can edit this and add other folder as well which i’m going to show. Go to these folder and take a look. For e.g., in C:\Windows\System32 you have an .exe file called calc. Shall we try it in the run command line? Type calc in Run and press enter. The calculator opens up. As you can see, it is way faster to open the calculator this way than pushing through the start menu. The types of files that Windows considers to be executables are determined by the file extensions for executables. Note that this also applies to the command prompt too, not only for Run. Variable names are NOT case sensitive within Windows.

You can view the current command path for executables by using the PATH command. Start the command prompt(type cmd in Run), type path on a line by itself, and press Enter.
Here are the output from this command for my PC:

Note: Observe the use of the semicolon (;) to separate individual paths.

You can permanently change the command path in the system environment using the SETX command. For example, if you use specific directories for scripts or applications, you may want to update the path information. You can do this by using the SETX command to add a specific path to the existing path, such as setx PATH “%PATH%;C:\Scripts”.

Note: Observe the use of the quotation marks and the semicolon (;). The quotation marks are necessary to ensure that the value %PATH%;C:\Scripts is read as the second argument for the SETX command. And, as discussed previously, the semicolon is used to specify where one file path ends and another begins.

Be careful when setting the command path. It is easy to overwrite all path information accidentally. For example, if you don’t specify the %PATH% environment variable when setting the path, you will delete all other path information.

The Graphical Way of doing it.
Open Control Panel-Performance and Maintenance-System (or right-click on My Computer and choose “Properties”). Or simply type sysdm.cpl in Run :P. In the box that opens, click the “Advanced” tab to obtain the dialog box shown below.

Next, click the button “Environment Variables”. A dialog box will open up.

Select path and click on edit:

then append your entry at the end of it. Don’t forget to add a semi-column “;” before appending the new entry.

If you want more in depth-knowledge of the Environment Path, check this link.

Chapter 0x003 – Managing File Extensions and File Associations
  1. File extensions for executables  Executable files are defined with the %PATHEXT% environment variable. You can view the current settings by typing set pathext at the command line. The default setting is PATHEXT=.COM;
    .EXE;.BAT;.CMD;.VBS;.VBE;.JS;.JSE;.WSF;.WSH. With this setting, the command line knows which files are executable and which files are not, so you don’t have to specify the file extension at the command line.

  2. File extensions for applications  File extensions for applications are referred to as file associations. File associations are what enable you to pass arguments to executables and to open documents, spreadsheets, or other application files by double-clicking their file icon. Each known extension on a system has a file association that can be viewed by typing assoc followed by the extension, such as assoc.exe. Each file association in turn specifies the file type for the file extension. This can be viewed by typing the FTYPE command followed by the file association, such as ftype exefile.

Every known file extension on a system has a corresponding file association and file type—even extensions for executables. In most cases, the file type is the extension text without the period followed by the keyword file, such as cmdfile, exefile, or batfile.

Chapter 0x004 – Add your own application launcher run commands by editing registry

As an alternative to adding new folders in path, it is better you edit your registry directly. As an example, i’m going to show you how to launch Opera from the run command by simply typing opera.

First type regedit and hit enter in Run.

Now navigate to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths

Right-Click on App Paths and select> New> Key

Title the new key the name of the application, in this case; Opera.exe

Right-Click the default string value and click Modify.

Change the value to the path of the executable you want to run. E.g. C:\Program Files\Opera 9\opera.exe

That’s it, now close the registry editor. Type opera in the run command.

You can do this for any application. All you need to do is enter the path of the application you want to open and also make sure that you remember the name of the key that you give as you have to enter it to launch it.

Yet another way of doing it!

This is Windows. You have many ways of doing a thing :). Create a shortcut to the program and put it in the \windows\system32 directory. It works and it even lets you rename the shortcut to whatever you want to type into the Run box.

Chapter 0x005 – Opening folders in Run

Not only files but also folders can be opened in the Run line. Folders contained by a folder in the path are in this category. Examples are folders within \Windows\ and \Windows\system32\ such as the folders Fonts and “Drivers”. Folders that are in \Documents and Settings\{Current User}\ can also be opened in Run. An example is SendTo (written as one word). Being able to open this folder in Run is convenient for editing.

There are also some interesting shortcuts to folders that are available in Run. To open up a drive just type {drive letter}: (E.g., c: or d: ). Typing the backslash (\) in the run line and entering it brings up the root folder, usually the C: drive. (Try typing \ then enter). Typing and entering a period (.) brings up the folder \Documents and Settings\{Current User}\ in Windows XP (or Users\(Current User} in Vista). Entering two periods (..) opens the folder \Documents and Settings\ (or Users in win7). To open up a computer in the network, the double back slash followed by the IP Address or computer name on the network (eg, \\

Chapter 0x006 – A List of commands available

Finally, here is a list of commands (156 in total) available for Run. Data obtained from here.

To Access… Run Command
Accessibility Controls access.cpl
Accessibility Wizard accwiz
Add Hardware Wizard hdwwiz.cpl
Add/Remove Programs appwiz.cpl
Administrative Tools control admintools
Adobe Acrobat (if installed) acrobat
Adobe Designer (if installed) formdesigner
Adobe Distiller (if installed) acrodist
Adobe ImageReady (if installed) imageready
Adobe Photoshop (if installed) photoshop
Automatic Updates wuaucpl.cpl
Bluetooth Transfer Wizard fsquirt
Calculator calc
Certificate Manager certmgr.msc
Character Map charmap
Check Disk Utility chkdsk
Clipboard Viewer clipbrd
Command Prompt cmd
Component Services dcomcnfg
Computer Management compmgmt.msc
Control Panel control
Date and Time Properties timedate.cpl
DDE Shares ddeshare
Device Manager devmgmt.msc
Direct X Control Panel (if installed)* directx.cpl
Direct X Troubleshooter dxdiag
Disk Cleanup Utility cleanmgr
Disk Defragment dfrg.msc
Disk Management diskmgmt.msc
Disk Partition Manager diskpart
Display Properties control desktop
Display Properties desk.cpl
Display Properties (w/Appearance Tab Preselected) control color
Dr. Watson System Troubleshooting Utility drwtsn32
Driver Verifier Utility verifier
Event Viewer eventvwr.msc
Files and Settings Transfer Tool migwiz
File Signature Verification Tool sigverif
Findfast findfast.cpl
Firefox (if installed) firefox
Folders Properties folders
Fonts control fonts
Fonts Folder fonts
Free Cell Card Game freecell
Game Controllers joy.cpl
Group Policy Editor (XP Prof) gpedit.msc
Hearts Card Game mshearts
Help and Support helpctr
HyperTerminal hypertrm
Iexpress Wizard iexpress
Indexing Service ciadv.msc
Internet Connection Wizard icwconn1
Internet Explorer iexplore
Internet Properties inetcpl.cpl
Internet Setup Wizard inetwiz
IP Configuration (Display Connection Configuration) ipconfig /all
IP Configuration (Display DNS Cache Contents) ipconfig /displaydns
IP Configuration (Delete DNS Cache Contents) ipconfig /flushdns
IP Configuration (Release All Connections) ipconfig /release
IP Configuration (Renew All Connections) ipconfig /renew
IP Configuration (Refreshes DHCP & Re-Registers DNS) ipconfig /registerdns
IP Configuration (Display DHCP Class ID) ipconfig /showclassid
IP Configuration (Modifies DHCP Class ID) ipconfig /setclassid
Java Control Panel (if installed) jpicpl32.cpl
Java Control Panel (if installed) javaws
Keyboard Properties control keyboard
Local Security Settings secpol.msc
Local Users and Groups lusrmgr.msc
Logs You Out Of Windows logoff
Malicious Software Removal Tool mrt
Microsoft Access (if installed) msaccess
Microsoft Chat winchat
Microsoft Excel (if installed) excel
Microsoft Frontpage (if installed) frontpg
Microsoft Movie Maker moviemk
Microsoft Paint mspaint
Microsoft Powerpoint (if installed) powerpnt
Microsoft Word (if installed) winword
Microsoft Syncronization Tool mobsync
Minesweeper Game winmine
Mouse Properties control mouse
Mouse Properties main.cpl
Nero (if installed) nero
Netmeeting conf
Network Connections control netconnections
Network Connections ncpa.cpl
Network Setup Wizard netsetup.cpl
Notepad notepad
Nview Desktop Manager (if installed) nvtuicpl.cpl
Object Packager packager
ODBC Data Source Administrator odbccp32.cpl
On Screen Keyboard osk
Opens AC3 Filter (if installed) ac3filter.cpl
Outlook Express msimn
Paint pbrush
Password Properties password.cpl
Performance Monitor perfmon.msc
Performance Monitor perfmon
Phone and Modem Options telephon.cpl
Phone Dialer dialer
Pinball Game pinball
Power Configuration powercfg.cpl
Printers and Faxes control printers
Printers Folder printers
Private Character Editor eudcedit
Quicktime (If Installed) QuickTime.cpl
Quicktime Player (if installed) quicktimeplayer
Real Player (if installed) realplay
Regional Settings intl.cpl
Registry Editor regedit
Registry Editor regedit32
Remote Access Phonebook rasphone
Remote Desktop mstsc
Removable Storage ntmsmgr.msc
Removable Storage Operator Requests ntmsoprq.msc
Resultant Set of Policy (XP Prof) rsop.msc
Scanners and Cameras sticpl.cpl
Scheduled Tasks control schedtasks
Security Center wscui.cpl
Services services.msc
Shared Folders fsmgmt.msc
Shuts Down Windows shutdown
Sounds and Audio mmsys.cpl
Spider Solitare Card Game spider
SQL Client Configuration cliconfg
System Configuration Editor sysedit
System Configuration Utility msconfig
System File Checker Utility (Scan Immediately) sfc /scannow
System File Checker Utility (Scan Once At The Next Boot) sfc /scanonce
System File Checker Utility (Scan On Every Boot) sfc /scanboot
System File Checker Utility (Return Scan Setting To Default) sfc /revert
System File Checker Utility (Purge File Cache) sfc /purgecache
System File Checker Utility (Sets Cache Size to size x) sfc /cachesize=x
System Information msinfo32
System Properties sysdm.cpl
Task Manager taskmgr
TCP Tester tcptest
Telnet Client telnet
Tweak UI (if installed) tweakui
User Account Management nusrmgr.cpl
Utility Manager utilman
Windows Address Book wab
Windows Address Book Import Utility wabmig
Windows Backup Utility (if installed) ntbackup
Windows Explorer explorer
Windows Firewall firewall.cpl
Windows Magnifier magnify
Windows Management Infrastructure wmimgmt.msc
Windows Media Player wmplayer
Windows Messenger msmsgs
Windows Picture Import Wizard (need camera connected) wiaacmgr
Windows System Security Tool syskey
Windows Update Launches wupdmgr
Windows Version (to show which version of windows) winver
Windows XP Tour Wizard tourstart
Wordpad write

Replies are the most welcomed 🙂


Categories: Computer/Technology Tags:
  1. fibre_optik
    July 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    This is one of the best tutorial on Run i found on the internet! Thanks you, very useful. Great blog!

  2. November 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm


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