Launch Multiple Programs From a Single Shortcut Using a Batch File

Craig Snyder 30-10-2014

Some PC applications just work together like two peas in a pod. I’m talking about pairs like Winamp and There’s Skype and Pidgin, Steam and Raptr, and more. When you’re using one of these, launching the next one just feels natural. However, having too many paired program groups like this can really cause some serious clutter on the desktop.


That being said, is there really a need to have both shortcuts on your desktop 10 Best Shortcuts to Add to Your Right-Click Menu The context menu that pops up whenever you perform a right-click can help you become more productive. With the right tool, customizing the shortcuts within it is a breeze. Read More when two applications work alongside each other? If you don’t think so and you’re running Windows, let me show you how to combine both applications into a single shortcut icon for your desktop.

Pick Your Icon

The first step to setting this up, after you’ve picked out the two (or more) applications that you want to combine into a single shortcut, is selecting your main shortcut icon. This is an optional step of the process, but bypassing it means that you’ll be using the Windows icon for every batch file as your shortcut icon.

BAT File

If the desktop icon you want to use is already on the desktop, then good. Keep it there. If not, find the application whose icon you want to use (either through your Start menu or through Windows Explorer), right-click on it, and select Desktop (create shortcut) from the Send to menu.

Get Program Paths

The next step is to collect the program paths of the applications that you are trying to launch. Again, to do this you can use the Start menu or Windows Explorer. Simply find the application, right-click on it, and select Properties. The Target field is what we’re looking for.


BAT File

Copy what’s in that field and paste it into an empty Notepad window so that you have it somewhere easily accessible. Do this same thing with the second program that you’re trying to launch.

Create the Batch File

To make this work, we now need to take those two application paths and work them into a batch file. We have explained how to write simple batch file How to Create a Batch (BAT) File in Five Simple Steps This article covers how to create a batch file using five simple steps for the Windows operating system. Read More previously. Open the Notepad file that contains the program paths you copied earlier and adjust it to look like the example below.

@echo off
cd "C:\Program Files\CCleaner"
start CCleaner64.exe


cd "C:\Program Files (x86)\Wunderlist2"
start Wunderlist.exe


Above is an example of the complete batch file script. Below is a breakdown of what is going on in the script.

@echo off
This simply prevents commands from being displayed in the command prompt, which is used to execute your batch file.


cd "C:\Program Files\CCleaner"
This is changing our directory to the CCleaner directory (which we got from the program path earlier).

start CCleaner64.exe
This is launching the executable file (that we noted in Notepad earlier) from within the directory we just navigated to.

That one’s kind of self-explanatory.

BAT File


In Notepad, save this file (making sure your Save as type is set to All Files) with the .bat extension. Take note of the path where you’ve saved this file at, in Notepad, because we’ll need it in the next step.

Point Your Shortcut to the Batch File

Remember that icon we placed on the desktop earlier? Right-click it, select Properties, and look at the Target field. This should display the path to your application.

BAT File

Now, change that to the path of your batch file. Click Apply and OK.

Launch Your Batch File From the Shortcut

Now, double-click the shortcut icon on your desktop. You should see a command prompt window quickly open, then close (as the first line of the batch file forces), then your two applications should launch!


As someone who really appreciates automation How To Automate & Schedule Regular Windows 7 Backups Far too many PC users fail to properly back up their systems and their data. Because of that, I've often found myself in the position of having to tell family and friends that all of... Read More , it’s worth it to take these five minutes of your time to save yourself the unnecessary clicks and effort it would otherwise take you to launch two applications at once. It keeps your desktop nice and tidy, too.

Got any neat ideas for other ways that this batch file trick could work? Any suggestions for program pairs that you’d throw in a batch file like this? Leave me a comment below and let’s talk about it!

Are batch files really not your thing? Check out my favorite application launcher for Windows 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 : Fingertips! Feeling cluttered on your desktop but really not interesting in combining shortcut icons? Here’s how to clean up your desktop efficiently How to Clean Up Your Windows Desktop Once and For All Do you look at your Windows desktop and wonder how to clean it up? Here are some decluttering tips that can make you productive. Read More !

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  1. Santhosh
    December 27, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Can open a batch file and Google chrome and another program by using a single batch file. Is it possible?

  2. Tech_Man
    April 3, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    I'm using Pitikapp, but it relies on other programs to function. So I am making a batch file to start MSI Afterburner, wait 4 seconds, then start Pitikapp.

  3. Ken
    September 21, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    This will help me force my endusers to open what they need whether they know it or not. Sometimes, you have to be facist with software. I hate it, but it's true. This is a Godsend. Thank you.

  4. Dragon Messerschmidt
    August 11, 2018 at 3:09 am

    I know this article is pretty old. So you may not even see this. I just wanted to say thanks. Super useful, clear and concise article.

  5. Sara
    February 4, 2018 at 10:46 am

    This only runs the first one. Once stopped the first one, then runs the second.

  6. quake
    January 22, 2018 at 3:22 am

    This doesn't work if a program has spaces in the exe name

    Instead do:

    start "any thing here this is just a title" "C:\Program Files\a program\my program.exe"

  7. Kohgan
    October 19, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Is there a way to have the same Icon open and close the same program?

    • dan
      November 2, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Yes, put the batch file in your documents or somewhere you dont have to see it. Right click on the batch file and hit sent to>desktop to create a shortcut. You can then right click on the shortcut, click customise and select an icon. You will need to download an ICO file to be used for the icon image

      • Santhosh
        December 27, 2019 at 6:32 pm

        Is it possible to create a batch file to open Google chrome, another program and another another batch files in a single click??? Totally 3 files

  8. tony rallo
    September 25, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks very good good instructions.
    Not certain if you mention that you can get the target programs to to run directly by clicking the "gear icon" if you don't want to change the actual shortcut.

    Many Thanks

  9. Niklas
    October 8, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks for the article, appreciated.

  10. Miko
    July 7, 2016 at 1:31 am

    Is there a way to also close all the programs from the batch file together by closing one program? That would be helpful too.

  11. Sara
    April 27, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Should be nice to know how to pass arguments to started program, so we can run for example:

    ipconfig /all
    netstat -a -n

  12. LC
    April 21, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Is there a way to start a program like the author showed AND have it also do simple keystrokes? For example; open a program, pause for it to load, down-arrow twice and then doubleclick?


    • Anonymous
      October 29, 2015 at 6:39 am

      Check out Sikuli. Didn't take me long to get a few automation scripts made.

  13. dan
    April 17, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    I like to insert a comment (memory jogger, link, etc...) when I create a shortcut. Currently I use the comment box within the shortcut but it has a max number of characters I can use. Is there another way?

  14. kdem007
    April 7, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Too lazy to see how old this is... but i'm using it alongside this: //
    to turn on a projector when I open certain applications(steam, netflix)

  15. Pablo
    March 28, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Hi, is there a program or something which can open a shortcut from the desktop every 9 minutes? more especificly this "C:Program Files (x86)SteamsteamappscommonCounter-Strike Global Offensivecsgo.exe" -connect;password test


  16. jeffry
    February 28, 2015 at 6:17 am

    I want to shut down network services that cause issues with Reaper daw causing potential dpc spikes. This is the command i have so far.

    @echo off
    cd "C:Program FilesREAPER (x64)"
    start REAPER.exe

    net stop browser
    net stop server
    net stop lmhosts
    net stop lanmanworkstation

    The command line says this....

    System error 5 has occured
    access denied

    System error 5 has occured
    access denied

    System error 5 has occured
    access denied

    the following services are dependent on workstation service. Stopping the workstation service will also stop these services.

    Remote desktop configuration
    computer browsing

    Do you want to continue? (y/n)

    My ? is why are the errors showing up, and how do i get a batch file to automate saying Y (yes)

    I want to do this same thing for chrome browser but the opposite so it turns on the net services? So how do i?

    @echo off
    cd "C:Program Files (x86)GoogleChromeApplication"
    start Chrome.exe

    net start browser
    net start server
    net start lmhosts
    net start lanmanworkstation

    • Joshua
      January 20, 2016 at 3:41 am

      Here try this


      @echo off

      cd C\Program Files\REAPER
      start REAPER.exe

      net stop browser
      net stop server
      net stop lmhosts
      net stop lanmanworkstation



      When saving it make sure to click "save as type" then change it to all

      And save it as REAPER (I would add DEBUG here).bat

      If there's a problem then I can't help you but I hope this helps a little xP

  17. Akbar
    February 24, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I want a command for my usb drive it has a batch file it will be plugged in to different computers and apear diffent lettered dive like E,F,G so i dont want to change path for each computer and the programs are in same folder of the batch file.If any one knows what does this mean %~dp0 it is written before a flie name

  18. ali
    January 10, 2015 at 9:46 am

    xvxcvxcvxv kldhjkds hkdfskkhfd lkfdlkfdlkf

  19. TheIndianSinger
    January 8, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Hello Craig,
    I have a large number of audio and video karaoke files (more than 25,000) in one folder and the lyrics of them in another as text or image files. When I have to play Audio/video file without the lyrics, I have to manually locate the Lyrics/image file to sing along.

    I was wondering if somehow I could be able to open the lyrics file (text/image) when I click the audio/video file. So when I double click on an audio/video file, the associated text/image file would also open along with it (Like mp3 file is a hyperlink to text file).

    Some mp3 files have text lyrics which I can open in Winamp. But creating/converting all audio/video with lyrics will take years for me taken into consideration the number of songs I have. Please enlighten and help me with this issue.
    Thank you for your time and efforts. Cheers~!

  20. Shane
    November 12, 2014 at 12:58 am

    Hey I have a question is it possible to make a batch open with another program? an example is if program a is opened open program b. is that possible, and how would I program it?

    • Tina
      November 28, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Interesting question, Shane. I'm pretty sure it's possible. Did you ask this question somewhere else and have you come up with an answer in the meantime?

  21. B Jerew
    November 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Hmmmm, I like the idea, but it doesn't seem to like some of my commands. Chrome, Word, and Calculator open up on command, as expected, but can I launch a specific file?

    cd "C:MediaDocument"
    start "Ambient Music Online.m3u8"
    just opens a cmd window. That's my background music for Winamp, but I also have a database and spreadsheet that I'd like to open directly.

    start explorer.exe “C:MediaDriveFreelancerProjects - Working” simply opens up C:MediaDocument

    Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    "There is no such thing as a foolproof system. Someone will make a better fool, tomorrow." @LoneWolffe

  22. sjd
    November 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I created a 2 commmand bat file, first line copies a file, second line executes it. The copy works fine, but the bat file stops after the copy and wont run the execute line. Any ideas

    copy "G:SJDTSTExportsSJDLite2015.accdb" "C:UsersPublicDocuments"
    "C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice15msaccess.exe" "C:UsersPublicDocumentsSJDLite2015.accdb"

    • sjd
      November 5, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      Never mind, it works, file to copy is on network, its not real big, but the copy took forever so it looked like the batch file was hung up. Just slooow network.

  23. Jon
    November 1, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I use Lacuna Launcher. It's portable and quite versatile.

  24. Tim
    November 1, 2014 at 3:20 am

    Like apps in this article, how do i open multiple Windows folders? I keep like 6-7 folders open when i am doing audio compiling in my studio so i need to open with a single click. Is that possible?

    • Tim
      November 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      start explorer.exe "d:YourFolder"
      start explorer.exe "c:"YourFolder"
      start explorer.exe "C:Program Files (x86)"


    • Tim
      November 1, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      start explorer.exe "d:YourFolder"
      start explorer.exe "c:YourFolder"
      start explorer.exe "C:Program Files (x86)"

      There was a typo in my reponse. There should be quotes around the path only, but I had one after the c: on line 2.

      Also, the MUO system removes the backslashes from posts on here, so you need one after the colon following the drive letter, and in between each folder name if you go more than one directory deep.

    • Tim
      November 2, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks! But in what format do i save it? .bat?
      Is this a batch file?

      Thank you very much

  25. pmshah
    November 1, 2014 at 2:04 am


    I tried that but did not suit my purpose. So I disabled all those startup files from registry by means of CCleaner. Then I created the batch file as suggested but not your standard .cmd file but Take Command LE's .btm file and named it Startup.btm.

    Here I can set exact delay between successive commands and the order in which I want them executed. The if / and /or functions + system variables and functions allow me to check for preconditions being met or looping until they do. Believe me it has made my life so much easier !

  26. Mark
    November 1, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Is there a way to pass user IDs and passwords to applications when they launch?
    I know it is not a secure idea but can it be done?

  27. Yvez
    October 31, 2014 at 10:58 am

    What I did also, was to add a splash screen when starting the programs.
    Check out link below for the code. Just fiddle a bit with the variables and the "Start programs"-bit.

    Mine is called mortalkom.bat :-p

    • Craig
      November 2, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      That's a really cool adaptation!

  28. Ehab
    October 31, 2014 at 6:40 am

    to do this with linux, do the following (I'm using blender and gimp as examples):

    #without adding the ~ here blender did not run. Probably because it's in the home directory. I'm not that familiar with linux, to be honest
    #if you want to run another app/program, simply add the and (&) symbol at the end of your previous command. An example would be the "&" after "./blender" as you can see below
    cd ~/Apps/blender/
    #in here, you might find the need to add the command "chmod +x blender" (without the " of course). I didn't in this case. This is required for most internet downloaded programs as a security thing
    ./blender &
    #note that you do not add the ~ here because it's in the computer directory rather than the home directory. Again, not entirely sure if this is the case. That's just how I understand it.
    cd /usr/bin/
    #as explained before, if you want to add a third program to the list, add a space and a "&" after the 8 in "./gimp-2.8"

    now save your file like so "", then right click on it ->properties ->permissions -> next to Execute, check the little box.

    Now double click your .sh file, and it'll either work as expected or you'll see a message asking how you want to run this. If neither happen, you'll have to open the file manager (in my case, since I'm using Ubuntu, Nautilus. Steps might be different for you) ->preferences -> behavior -> under "Executable Text Files" chose "Ask each time" or "Run executable text files when they are opened". Whichever you like best.

  29. Ehab
    October 31, 2014 at 3:50 am

    what's the linux equivalent to the "start" command? xdg-open runs my executable with the archive manager :c

  30. kernmapper
    October 31, 2014 at 3:26 am

    I prefer using the freeware Startup Delayer, by Jockersoft. It lets you set up time delays between each program launch, so everything is not trying to launch at once.

    • Craig
      October 31, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Does Startup Delayer allow you to launch programs in this same way from the desktop, or is that functionality only available during a Windows logon?

  31. Alexis C
    October 31, 2014 at 3:17 am

    Do you have a shortcut to open google chrome directly in incognito mode?

    • Bruce Barnes
      October 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm
    • Abhuy
      October 31, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      "C:Program Files (x86)GoogleChromeApplicationchrome.exe" -incognito

    • Jeet Sagar
      November 1, 2014 at 7:13 am

      In the second line replace "start chrome.exe" by "start chrome.exe -incognito". If you add -incognito after the target in properties of the shortcut, you can launch chrome in incognito by double clicking that.

    • Victor
      November 1, 2014 at 8:25 am

      Try creating your shortcut, then adding a flag for incognito mode (I believe it's -incognito) to it, then copy the whole thing into the batch file.

    • Craig
      November 2, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Simply add the "-incognito" condition to the launch target in Properties. Just tried it, works perfectly.

    • Alexis C
      November 2, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      Thank you guys! :)