The Run Window in Windows 7 - Why Use it Anymore?

I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people using typed commands to start tools, run scripts or administrative tasks in Windows, instead of using the mouse. For them, the Command Prompt and the Run window are really useful. However, if the Command Prompt will always be useful, no matter how user interfaces evolve, does it make sense to still use the Run window? Here’s what I think and I’m hoping you agree with me.

The Run Window

It has been around for many years, since Windows operating systems did not really have powerful search capabilities as they do today. Together with the Command Prompt it was used by power users and administrators to run powerful Windows administration commands.

Run window

Starting with Windows Vista and continuing in Windows 7 and beyond, the Run window is not made available in a visible way as it was before. It’s still there, you just can’t find it on the default Windows Start Menu.

To launch it, you need to use the keyboard shortcut Windows+R. Also, you can customize the Start Menu to include a shortcut for Run or search for ”run” in the Start Menu search box and start it from there.


Why Use the Run Window Anymore?

I would like to argue that you don’t really need Run anymore, with the Start Menu being so powerful in recent versions of Windows. Microsoft did well to hide its shortcut, since you already have the Run functionality available at your fingertips.

Not only you can use the Start Menu to search for programs and files, but you can use it to launch powerful commands. For example, writing msconfig.exe (starts the System Configuration tool), regedit (starts the Registry Editor), dxdiag (starts the DirectX Diagnostic Tool) and pressing Enter, returns the same results as with the Run window, but faster.

Run window

You just press Windows, start typing and press Enter. Also, you can run commands with parameters, like the one I’ve used in the screenshot above, to start Internet Explorer in InPrivate mode.

If You Still Want the Run Window - Here’s How to Add it to the Start Menu

However, if you still want the Run window shortcut, I will show how to add it to the Start Menu:

First, right click on the empty space on the taskbar and select Properties. Then, go to the Start Menu tab and click Customize.

Run window

In the Customize Start Menu window, scroll down until you find the Run command checkbox. Check it and click OK in each of the Start Menu customisation windows.

Run windowRun is now added to your Start Menu.

Run windowNOTE: In the Customize Start Menu window you can find plenty of useful customisation options. For a complete overview, check this tutorial: The Complete Guide to the Windows 7 Start Menu.


I hope this article was a useful read, making you realise more about the power given to you by the Windows 7 Start Menu. Before you go, share with us: do you still use the Run window? Are you fully using the Start Menu’s launch capabilities?

About the Author: Ciprian Adrian Rusen
I love technology and I work in IT for more than a decade. I am the co-founder of Digital Citizen and its chief editor. Alongside my work as an editor, I am also an author. I have written and published 7 books, most of them about Microsoft products and technologies. They are translated into more than 12 languages. In 2014, I have been recognized by Microsoft for my technical expertise and involvement in the community with the title of Microsoft MVP - Windows Consumer Expert.