Most users will have needed to use the Windows Run Box at some point or another. Quite often it would be to open a Windows built in utility such as Regedit or invoke the Command Prompt with the ‘cmd’ command. A lot of other users absolutely swear by it and use the Run box to launch a number of their applications instead of using the mouse and start menu. It’s not just limited to launching programs either, websites can be opened and also folders can be navigated to by typing them into the run box. Simply press the Windows+R keys and you’re ready to type in your program or Windows component name.
Lovers of the Run box might also like to check out Launchy, a useful alternative. Personally, I’m not a big user of the Run Box and only use it when I really have to, partly because I’ve got a load of hotkeys already configured on my keyboard. And also because I also still prefer to use a mouse when possible, it may not be the most efficient way to operate Windows, but it’s what I’m used to and comfortable with.
Something that has been around in Windows for several years since Windows 95 days and still around in windows 7 and 8, is something called Aliases. These are simply name shortcuts which you can use to substitute the full filename for a shortened, quicker to type version. The Alias function has always been available to use through the registry (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths) if you felt like doing it yourself, but there has really never been a quick and simple way to edit the alias settings and add or delete your own shortcuts. Most people have pretty much forgotten that the alias function exists or never even knew it was there in the first place.
There’s an interesting and simple to use little utility around to help you edit the Win+R run command alias settings and also allow you to create new aliases. It’s called Windows+R Alias Manager and easily handles the job for you. The program is completely free to use and also a portable standalone executable of around 150K. If you want to try this on Windows 8, there is a specific version in the zip archive.
If you launch the program and the window is empty, tick on the ‘Work with system wide aliases‘ tick box under the Add button. This function allows the editing just for the current user or for every user on the system when you place a tick in the box. Although something called aliases might sound tricky to setup, it is in fact pretty easy. The Alias in the main window is the shortcut you would like to type in, and the File path is the location of the application you wish to launch. To edit one of the current entries, double click it or press the edit button (Alt+E).
The only thing that really needs to be changed in the edit window is the Alias shortcut you want to associate the application with. Enter what you want into the box. The ‘System-wide-alias’ can be unticked if the alias is only meant for the current user. Administrator privileges are required to do that.
To create a new alias, press the Add button or press the Ins key from the main window. This will bring up the ‘Add New Item’ window which is the same as the edit window apart from you need the extra step of locating the application executable. Type in the path to the executable file to use, or click on the Browse button.
Another even easier way is to drag the shortcut icon on to the window which will fill in the File Path and a ready made Alias for you. One of the limits of an alias is letters, digits and dots only can be used, no other special characters. Although you can also type web addresses and folder paths into the Run box, you cannot create alias shortcuts for them, sadly. If you’re a fan of the Windows Run box to access third party applications and Windows components, Windows+R Alias Manager could definitely save you some time and typing with the use of alias shortcuts!
Works with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 32bit and 64bit.