How-To Geek

How Do I Add Text Shortcuts to the Windows Run Dialog Box?

Windows comes prepackaged with a ton of handy run-dialog shortcuts to help you launch apps and tools right from the run box; is it possible to add in your own custom shortcuts?

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Nic finds the run-dialog shortcuts to be handy and wants to expand upon them:

When I hit Windows+R, I can type in calc and get a calculator really quickly. Same thing for mspaint. My question is, how do I adjust this so I can type “netbeans” and have it open the program?

If you’re a keyboard ninja, having super speedy access to your favorite apps in this fashion would be handy. How do you go about it?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor John T offers a quick and simply way to accomplish the shortcut addition:

The easiest option would be to add the following location to your path variable:

C:\Program Files\NetBeans X.X.X\bin

replace X.X.X with your version of Netbeans.

Alternatively you could make a shortcut to the netbeans.exe executable in the above path, and place that shortcut in a location that’s already in your path (e.g. C:\Windows\System32).

If you’d like a step-by-step tutorial for editing the system PATH, make sure to check out How to Edit Your System PATH for Easy Command Line Access.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/8/13

Comments (14)

  1. LHX


    I already have that question and after a little search I found how to add shortcuts to run cmd. I’ll create a little GUI to help you out ;)

  2. simbaofsweden

    AddToRun offers a nice simple GUI to do just this

  3. RaptorClawz

    Launchy…launchy would perform this function quite admirably.

  4. LHX

    Here it is:

    2:30h to make it (had some problems with arrays :s)

  5. Huseyin

    Keybreeze, without a doubt the best keyword/shortcut program. Has so much stuff all others are missing.

  6. Jeff

    Launchy for the win.

  7. Selva Kumar

    Not sure where I read this. I use this trick in my office where I would like to keep the footprint very minimal.
    I actually added a folder location called shortcuts in the environment variable called “path”.
    Now whenever I want to launch a program from the Run dialog, I simply create a shortcut in the shortcuts directory. This doesn’t require me to add to the path variable or use any additional software’s. Pretty easy to setup and when I want to cleanup all I have to do is delete it. It also works for directory and website and application launching.

    If you have cloud storage, then you can actually sync your shortcuts, which cannot be done by adding to path variable individually.

    Well as I said the idea is not mine, the person with the idea is to be appreciated. I am just a user of the idea.

  8. hellerdude

    Try Executor at

  9. Yu

    Since Vista the search function built into the Start Menu has replaced that trick for me. In times of Windows XP I used it though.

    Just in case… if it doesn’t work with shortcuts (links) one might need to add .LNK to the PATHEXT variable.

  10. Aaron

    Launchy all the way

  11. peter bacsi

    see “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths” . . .

  12. L Benson

    I use an HTA. It currently sports 92 clearly labeled, clickable buttons. Web pages, programs, folders on my computer – just 1 click away. For speed, it can’t be beat.

  13. T$

    AHK all the way baby! All my most use programs, folders, files, etc are just a key combo away. I also path windows flip 3D to my mouse just to show off.

  14. T$


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