When things go south with Windows, we often rely on its extensive set of built-in tools.
But when you rarely use something, it can hard to remember where it is, what it’s called, and how to use it. Here’s help for the first two.
A quick refresher on Windows ‘run commands’
The classic Windows Run applet is somewhat like a mini command line. A simple WinKey + R launches it in all current versions of Windows, and once it’s open you can directly launch almost any application installed on your system — with some qualifications.
For an app to launch from Run, you have to know its correct name. Enter “Excel” into the Run box, for example, and the app immediately launches. Enter “Word” into the box and you get an error message. Why? Because the true name for Word is “winword.” The same goes for PowerPoint — to launch it from Run, you have to enter “powerpnt” into the box.
The Run applet has some important differences from a command prompt. You can’t for example, launch Excel by simply entering “excel” and hitting Enter. You can, however, launch it from a command prompt by entering “start excel.exe” at the prompt. Typically, no path to the EXE is needed.
You can also open a specific folder directly in Run, sometimes more quickly than navigating to in Explorer. For instance, entering “%programfiles%” immediately opens the C:\Program Files folder.
All that said, the Run box was far more important in the XP era. With Windows 7, 8, and 10, the Windows search box is often the better option. For example, in Win7, you can quickly load a command window by entering “cmd” into the Run box. But that won’t give you an admin-level session. The better alternative is to enter “cmd” into the Start search box and then enter Ctrl + Shift + Enter. (You’ll know you have admin status because a User Account Control box will pop up.) Likewise, entering %programfiles% into search pops up both Program Files and Program Files (x86).