How-To Geek

How to Launch Custom Programs From the Run Box in Windows


If you have been following How-To Geek for a while, you will probably have noticed that we are fans of the Win + R keyboard combo. You too can take advantage of it by adding your very own commands to it, here’s how.

Creating a Custom Alias

We will be needing a third party utility for this since Windows doesn’t allow us to do this out of the box, so head over to this developer’s website and grab a copy of the Win + R Alias Manager.


Once the file has been downloaded you will need to extract it.


Now head into the folder and run WinRAliasManager.exe.


When the program opens you will need to click on the add button.


Now you can choose an alias for you program, as well select the program that you wish to launch.


When you are ready click on the OK button, and then press the Win + R keyboard combination to bring up a run box.


Then the alias you chose and then press enter.


That’s all there is to it.

Taylor Gibb is a Microsoft MVP and all round geek, he loves everything from Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 and even C# and PowerShell. You can also follow him on Google+

  • Published 07/6/12

Comments (22)

  1. Krispie

    The same functionality can be achieved by saving shortcuts to the windows directory. EG: c:\windows\firefox

  2. Srijith

    Yeah no thirdparty stuffs required. Just create shortcut for all your fav programs, Rename the lnk files as per your linking and copy it in the windows folder. Thats it!!

  3. hellerdude

    I use
    Executor 0.9.9 (Build 4)
    By Martin Bresson
    as tool to keep my fingers on the keyboard…

  4. amit

    Use Launchy, its an awesome program launcher.

  5. Meena Bassem

    Krispie: i think you meant c:\windows\system32\
    it’s the one i use always for that.i have a shortcut for my Firefox profile (not the main one and it can only be started from that shortcut)
    i just hit the winkey in the keyboard and hit
    which is the name i gave for the shortcut and now my firefox profile starts :)
    i also use
    for utorrent with /hide parameter

  6. Srivatsan Venkatesh

    Incoming Launchy-spam, dead ahead.

  7. Brian Cornelius

    Thanks for that link to the most useful of all shortcuts.
    I have been a program that does exactly the same thing for proably 4 years: Command Creator.
    However, it now is payware.

    It is great to have a free program that does the same thing.

    Thanks again for promoting and thanks to the creator.


  8. Wuzisname

    Please tell me what is the advantage of this, I use windows STARUP folder to auto run the software I need. If I want to run a frequently used software, one click on the shortcut and there! I am not understanding why anyone would do the extra footwork

  9. Sameh Saeed

    simple & Amazing

  10. Joseph

    Me being me, I just type the whole thing into to the Ctrl + R command. It It helps me develop my typing skills and get used to whatever keyboard layout I might be using. Plus it’s fun to show off that you know where things are in your computer.

  11. Eric Schell

    This article is a waste of time. If you edit the Properties of the desktop icon for any prog, you can specify a key or key combo to be a Shortcut key to launch the prog.

  12. Beverly Kurtin

    Okay, kiddies, there is a MUCH easier way to do just about anything on Windows. I’m a retired Microsoft support engineer–the single most enjoyable period of my entire life–and here is all you need to do: Press the Start Key–that’s the Windows key–and start typing in what you want whether it is something on your computer or whether it is an Internet URL.

    Example: If you want to run Word for Windows, just click on the start key and type in winword and press ENTER. Ta-daa. Being lazy, instead of doing what someone said about going into properties and setting a hot key, I use Macro Express 3. An incredible program that lets me get to , say Google by just pressing the key combo CTRL+Shift+z (case sensitive) and bang…there is Google. If I press CTRL+Shift+x, up comes Word.

    On older versions of Windows, one could make up their own “macros”–up to 260 of them–by using a technique that is no longer available…I could strangle whoever decided to get rid of the old menus.

    Also, although I never defrag my system because I’m using Win7, but I do do a disk cleanup every morning. I get a kick out of all the programs that supposedly “speed up your computer” when the danged thing is already ON Windows! Yes, there are some things that a few…a FEW…of the speed up programs will find and correct better than Disk Cleanup, but I’ve been using computers for 29 years and guarantee you that if all you’re interested in is getting back the SAME SPEED that you had when you first started your system, it is HARD to beat Disk Cleanup. It takes just a few minutes, but the rest of your day will be MUCH happier.

    C’mon, Geeks…tell folks about the Windows/Start key and the wonderful things people can do with it.

    BTW, when I started with Microsoft, I was supporting DOS, anyone remember that?

    Here’s a trivia question for all of you: What was the last BASIC program Bill Gates wrote and for what computer?

    The BASIC in the Model 100 laptop by Radio Shack. It had no spaces whatsoever, so a typical line might read GOTO132. It had only 32K RAM that was lost when you shut down the machine. I bought an additional 32K for a total of 64K and people asked me what I was going to do with “all that memory?” I sometimes had to upload what I had done into a Videotex system at Fort Worth’s STARTEXT because I wrote a daily column that exceeded my available RAM.

  13. Beverly Kurtin

    Forgot to mention, that if you are going to use the Win+r combo OR the Start key…you MUST type www into the box so that the system knows you’re going to the web, else it will tell you it can’t find it.

  14. Beverly Kurtin

    Eric Schell, yes, you’re correct BUT you cannot touch the hot key unless you are at the desktop. Else, just about anything you typed would launch programs rather than typing your letters. Methinks you were mistaken about the article being a waste of time, but your intentions were good so I’ll leave it at that.

  15. Anonymous

    Why not just use an AHK script? Takes 5 seconds to build a simple script to run a program.

  16. sfw

    Wuzisname i think you dont get what this is about….
    This has nothing to do with starting your apps PostLogin, it’s about starting programms fast at any time you are to lazy to grab your mouse and (search and) click the icon

    You’re writing something in Word and wont to start Firefox to do some “research” on the web, just press win+r, type “firefox”, hit return, there you go

    and you could even give it a shorter name, how about just typing “ff”?

    BTW one doesn’t even need any software or Shortcuts in your System Paths to achieve this, never heard of %PATH%?

  17. Dic

    All three of my computers have Microsoft keyboards that sport a row of programmable buttons near their top edges. Fire up Woindows, hit the appropriate key, and up comes Word or Firefox or InDesign or . . ..

  18. Dic

    Windows, of course, not Woindows.

  19. mikmik

    Let’s not forget the Windows key + ‘number’ for the position of your program on the task bar. Nothing quicker, and accessible where ever you are.

  20. eran

    For novice !!!
    make a Shots folder , add a new shortcut, give it a short name(alias), add the file path to the path environment (right click on computer, properties, change settings -on windows 8, Advanced tab, Environment Variable button, on System Variable – search path and mark it, click edit, At the end of the row add the path to the Shorts Folder – for example “;E:\Shorts\” ).
    now you have the same effect lets say you have a “dreamweaver.exe” file and the shortcut is dream, you just type dream in the run window.

  21. Keith

    Slickrun and Autohotkey.
    I know– that’s 2 third-party programs to run, but they’re *very good* third-party programs. And free.

  22. Jim

    I use .cmd files and/or autoit to automate everything I do regularly.

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