NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, July 2004
Use Run Commands For Fast Access to Almost Everything
by Linda Gonse, Editor,
Orange County PC Users’ Group, California

Did you know that the Run command is the Swiss Army knife of Windows' built-in apps? Using it can make your computing time move along more quickly and smoothly. Available since Windows 3.1, the Run command is often overlooked by users except as an option for installing programs, although techies use it frequently to access various system diagnostics and information.

But, the average computer user should take a closer look at Run for its versatility to start programs and utilities, to open files and folders, to open web sites (when connected to the Internet), and as an alternative to placing shortcuts on the desktop. To use Run, left click on the Start button. Click on Run. If you hate to take your fingers off the keyboard to access Run, you can avoid using the mouse by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard and the letter "r". Commands are typed into the open box. For example: In the open Run box, type msconfig to give you quick access to the Startup Configuration tab. Click on the StartUp tab, and check or uncheck boxes of programs you want to run on Startup. (You will be prompted to restart your computer. If you want your custom startup to take effect immediately, click OK.) Msconfig is one of the Run commands you will probably use often.

Following are other Run commands for you to try out. (If you get hooked on Run, you can search Google for “run commands” to find others. There are lots of them! Many will include “switches,” familiar to DOS users, that will allow some of the commands to be customized.)

    calc (opens calculator utility)
    cdplayer (opens cd player)
    charmap (opens character map utility)
    clipbrd (opens clipboard utility)
    command (opens DOS window at command line)
    defrag (opens defrag utility)
    drvspace (opens drive space utility to compress drives, etc.)
    dxdiag (for DirectX, sound, input devices-joysticks, etc. info)
    freecell (opens freecell game)
    mplayer2 (opens Windows Media Player 6.4)
    msconfig (accesses programs that run on startup)
    mshearts (opens hearts game)
    msinfo32 (accesses system resources info)
    notepad (opens program)
    regedit (accesses command to edit the registry)
    rsrcmtr (loads resource meter utility in system tray)
    scandskw (accesses scan disk utility)
    scanregw (registry scan)
    sndrec32 (opens sound recorder)
    sndvol32 (opens sound volume utility)
    sol (opens a solitaire game)
    sysedit (accesses the System Configuration Utility)
    sysmon (opens system monitor utility)
    win.ini (accesses file that loads some Windows components)
    winipcfg (displays Internet connection/adapter info)
    winver (displays the Windows verson installed on the computer)
    wmplayer (opens Windows Media Player)
    wordpad (opens program)
    wupdmgr (connects to Windows update)

Using the Run box can also give you a jump start on addressing your email messages. Go to Run and type in mailto: and press OK. (Example--mailto:editor @orcopug.org.) Your e-mail application will open to display a blank new message that already has the email address you typed in the 'To:' field! You can even check websites by typing in a web address in Run. (Ex-ample-http://www.orcopug.org.) When connected to the Internet, you will be whisked to wherever you want to go.

Among the switches you can type in the Run box to customize tasks are attrib, move, and xcopy. DOS command and switches, and instructions on how to use them in conjunction with Windows Run, are at http://www.Techiwarehouse.com/DOS/XP_DOS_Tutorial.html, and http://www.computerhope.com/msdos.htm#02

As you type commands in the Run box, a list of your Most Recently Used (MRU) commands--a history of the commands you've used--accumulate. The growing list can come in handy, because you can just click on any command to activate it without retyping it.

On the other hand, you may not want to wade through a long list, or you may not want others to have access to the visible commands. In these cases, you need to clear the MRU commands. Here are two ways you can do that.

    1. Right click the start button and go to properties. Click on the radio button next to Start Menu and click on the Customize... button. Then, click on the Advanced tab. Locate the Run box and check the box on the left. Then, click on clear history.

    2. You can navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_ USER\ Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Explorer\ RunMRU. This is where you will find all the commands in the Run history. Delete the ones you don't want. But, backup the registry first!

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using this article as long as it is kept in context with proper credit given the author. The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member, brings this article to you.

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