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launching applications windows 7My original horror story when first upgrading to Windows 8 was having no idea how to comfortably launch applications anymore. By default, there is no Quick Launch toolbar and the Start Menu has been gutted to the point where it’s almost foreign. Thanks to some third-party tweaks and advice, both issues aren’t very hard to fix. Even if you prefer the new style Windows has taken on in the latest version of their OS, let it be known that there are applications out there that can ease the pain of launching your most commonly-used files, folders, and applications.

While I’m a huge fan and regular user of Fingertips Eliminate Unnecessary Reaches To Your Mouse With The Fingertips Application Launcher Eliminate Unnecessary Reaches To Your Mouse With The Fingertips Application Launcher Part of becoming a true power user is minimizing the number of long and exhausting reaches you go for between your keyboard and mouse. We've shared all sorts of keyboard tricks with you before, but... Read More , I really think I’ve come across two free and portable applications that get the job done more effectively and easily. I’m here to show them to you.


AddToRun is a useful little tool that works on versions of Windows from XP to 7. The application currently seems not to work on most versions of Windows 8, so keep that in mind.

launching applications windows 7

AddToRun allows you to create simple aliases for applications within the Windows filesystem. That being said, be advised that you’ll need easy access to your Run prompt to make efficient use of the application. My recommendation is that you have it shown on your Start Menu.

launching apps in windows

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Simply navigate to the location of the desired application, select it, create an alias for launching the application, and click Add.

launching apps in windows

After, simply bring up the Run prompt and type in the added alias.

launching apps in windows

It really doesn’t get any simpler than what AddToRun asks from the user.


Famulus is advertised as functional with versions of Windows from 2000 to 7, but I’ve tested it on Windows 8 Pro and it works just fine.

Famulus excels over AddToRun in many ways, in my opinion. The Run prompt is not a dependency. Famulus also shows you all items that you currently associate an alias with. With Famulus, you’re also able to launch any type of file or folder. You are not limited exclusively to applications.

launching applications in windows

The Activation Code is the alias required for launching the application. The File Path is the relative path to the file or directory that you’re creating an alias for. Be sure to click the appropriate button (File or Dir.) associated with the alias you’re adding. The Option field allows you to specify if you want to run the application maximized, minimized, or hidden. If a working directory is required to run the application properly, you are given the option of providing that also.

Click Save to save each individual entry and Done when saving all entries that you plan to complete. But how do you launch your applications?

Simply press and hold the * (asterisk) key on your number pad for a half-second. (If you use a laptop or netbook that does not have a number pad, this is obviously a problem!) At the bottom-right of your screen, you should see an input box pop up. Here is where you can type in any of those aliases.

launching applications windows 7

Hit enter and the application will be launched. It’s extremely simple and elegant.

Both applications do exactly what they advertise, but both in different ways. Which do you prefer: from the Run prompt or from the hotkey-activated prompt of Famulus? Let me know in the comments!

  1. Albert
    January 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Launchy is the best out there, with minimal customization you can open any program, folder or file you want whenwever you want..

  2. Meena Bassem
    December 30, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    i used to do quite a similar thing but manually, i create a shortcut of the .exe file in
    c:\windows\system32\ folder
    and rename it with the few characters i want and
    winkey+R to get run, or just win key in win 7, and the few chars and enter
    i use it with utorrent with /hide parameter, my own firefox profile with all bookmarks and addons and stuff ( definitely not the default ones )
    and a few more of the most frequently used apps

  3. Avish Kansakar
    December 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    im used to launchy but ill give these two a try

  4. Daniel Huss
    December 21, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    +1 for Launchy...

  5. CrzyInc
    December 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I am the author of Famulus. I just wanted to point out that the activation key can be changed via the settings window, so Famulus Will work just fine on a laptop.

    Christmas to all, and to all a good day! :)

    • Craig Snyder
      December 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks for dropping by to leave a comment!

  6. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    December 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I use laptop so Famulus is out of the list. Still, why not the old and loved Launchy? Enso Launcher is nice if you want one activated by hotkey.

  7. Xantes
    December 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    NONE of your mentioned applications works so simple and clever as "Quick Cliq"(
    Try it and contradict me if you can!

  8. Phúc Ng?c
    December 21, 2012 at 10:06 am

    These programs make it easier to use RUN command. Saving 5 seconds per task can be a great time-saver for the whole life!

  9. Thomas Petrucha
    December 21, 2012 at 9:16 am

    For users that don´t know their shortcuts ok, but as the others said ... Win+R ;)

  10. Junil Maharjan
    December 21, 2012 at 4:07 am

    I just use Win + R to run the RUN command.

    • Craig Snyder
      December 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      There's always that hotkey, too. Good idea there.

  11. Collin Hoffman
    December 21, 2012 at 2:48 am

    You can also easily access the run command by pressing WinKey+R. Works on all versions of Windows I've used.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      Dunno, but sometimes the run command doesn't work well to find my files.

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