The Run dialog is a much neglected Windows feature that provides super quick access to programs, folders, documents, and other resources, provided you know the respective launch command. It has little to do with the Windows command prompt, except that it is used to launch it.
The Run dialog is typically used to access Control Panel items in a single step. Since most users rarely have a desire to dabble with system applications or don’t know the appropriate Run commands to launch items they are using, this powerful shortcut usually gets ignored.
This article highlights the benefits of the Run dialog, shows how it can be used, including a short list of useful commands, and most importantly, a way to create your own commands!
Why The Run Dialog Is Important
As mentioned above, the purpose of the Run dialog is to open applications and documents. Now why would you need an alternative way to do that?
- Save Time
Opening anything with a Run command requires only two steps — launching the Run dialog and entering the respective command –, thus making it the fastest way to open any application or document.
- Ease Of Use & Independence
It can be used with only the keyboard, meaning the Run dialog can be a life saver, for example when your mouse and touchpad are broken or if the graphical user interface no longer responds due to a malware attack.
- Live Without The Start Menu
Finally, it can completely replace the functionality of the Windows Start Menu and thus is a great way to help wean yourself from that now discontinued Windows feature.
How To Launch The Run Dialog
The easiest way to open the Run dialog is by clicking the keyboard shortcut [Windows]+[R].
In Windows 7 and previous versions of Windows you can add the Run command to the Start Menu. In Windows 8.1 you will find Run among the options in the power menu that comes up when you right-click the desktop Start button or when you click the keyboard shortcut [Windows]+[X].
10+ Most Useful Run Commands You Have To Know
- [application name]
Generally, many applications can be opened simply using the application name, for example Firefox, Excel, or Wordpad. Sometimes, the command to open an application is not intuitive, for example to open Microsoft Word, you have to type winword. Find out the suitable commands for opening the applications you use most by trial and error or simply set them up manually (see below).
- shutdown or logoff
To restart, type shutdown -r into the text field and hit Enter.
- control panel
To launch the Task Manager.
Launches the on screen keyboard.
Will open display properties.
- control keyboard or control mouse or control printers
To access the respective properties.
Quickly access Add/Remove Programs.
To launch the disk cleanup utility.
Will open the application data folder.
A full list with hundreds of commands can be found on EightFire.
How To Create Your Own Run Commands
You will run into programs that don’t have a default Run command or maybe some of the existing commands are just too long to be useful. That’s when you should create your own Run commands.
Create desktop shortcuts for the programs or documents you wish to open via the Run dialog. You can manually create a new shortcut from your desktop…
…and browse for the respective file or application.
Or you can right-click a file or application and go to > Send To > Desktop (shortcut).
Keep in mind that the name of the shortcut will become your command, so make it something short and memorable. Edit shortcut names before proceeding. Once you have all the shortcuts you need, collectively move them directly into the Windows directory.
The next time you need to open one of your frequently used tools, simply type your custom command into the Run dialog box and it will magically appear.
What do you use the Run dialog for and which custom shortcuts did you create for yourself?