How-To Geek

Stupid Geek Tricks: Create a Shortcut to Quickly Edit Your Hosts File

As a programmer that does a lot of work on web sites, I end up having to edit my hosts file far too often, and in Windows 7 or Vista, you have to use Notepad in Administrator Mode. Tedious.

My quick and easy solution to this problem is so simple that it barely deserves a full article, but we’re going to cover it anyway—basically, you just create a shortcut to edit the file in Notepad, and set the properties to always start as Administrator. The final step is to create that shortcut in the Start Menu, so it will be easily accessible with the start menu search engine.

Once you’re done, all you have to do is type hosts into the start menu, and you can edit the Hosts file.

Let’s Make a Shortcut! 

Open up the start menu folder—for those of you that might be new, we’ve covered how to easily open up the start menu folder in Windows 7. Then right-click and create a shortcut, with the following location:

notepad c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts


Once you’ve created the shortcut, and make sure you give it a useful name like “Edit Hosts”, you should open up the shortcut properties, click the Advanced button, and then select the “Run as administrator” option.


Once you’ve done so, you can simply type hosts into the start menu to pull up the item…


You’ll be prompted to accept the UAC prompt, since you have to edit the hosts file in administrator mode.


And there we are. Edit away!


And yes, you might point out that you can simply change the permissions on the Hosts file to not require admin mode, but that would lead to a less secure system, since malware often tries to edit the hosts file.

Also, you might point out that this was such a simple and easy topic that I shouldn’t have bothered. But I did! Loss of geek points for me.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/23/09

Comments (6)

  1. jan

    Use hostman instead of notepad!
    It’s the easiest way to enable/disable the hostfile!

    And the best part: it’s freeware too, give it a try!

  2. Steven

    YES! I have this problem all the time.

    Thanks so much for the tip!

    Also, for users who use something besides notepad, you can just stick the location of your alternative notepad in place of “notepad” in the shortcut.

    Like this:

    “C:\Program Files\JGsoft\EditPadPro6\EditPadPro.exe” c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

  3. davepermen

    If you want to make it more geeky, create a task in the task planer, that gets highest privileges. and then, create a shortcut to that task. doing so, you can use that shortcut to directly elevate notepad, without an UAC dialog popping up.

  4. John Mack

    I posted this somewhere else, but FastDNS 3.8 is a freeware utility that not only edits your HOSTS file but will resolve the IP addresses of websites for you and put them in the HOSTS file. No need to restart Windows after closing FastDNS to load the IP addresses into memory, they are put into memory in real-time. Make sure to update the IP addresses occasionally otherwise you may not be able to connect to a website.

  5. Ali

    Re John Mack post: FastDNS 3.8 is not available anymore. Could not find a working link.

  6. Johnnydollar

    Good Pointer. I do use Hostsman for the fast changing and editing of the Hosts file. THIS is a good way to protect the computer from bad stuff, a nice layer of protection. I don’t mess with arguments on if or is faster. I just know it works best with on mine.

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