How to get to Run in Windows 7 (open Run dialog to launch programs)
Earlier versions of Windows used to display by default the "Run" command on the start menu: you can open the Run dialog and launch pretty much any program simply by typing a portion of its name or special acronym. Part of the reason Microsoft removed this option from the start menu (without removing this functionality from the operating system, as you'll learn in this tutorial), is because the new start menu that was introduced in Windows Vista allows you to do just the same using the search field. This tutorial will explain several options to use the Run dialog in Windows 7.
Tip: while we recommend that you read the rest of this tutorial, another one will show you how to simply restore the Run command on the start menu.
Launching the launch dialog without showing it on the start menu
An old keyboard shortcut you can use at any time is to press the Windows logo key and then "R" - regardless of the program currently running, Windows 7 will show the Run dialog near the corner of the screen where the start button is located (depending on where you may have moved your taskbar). Once it appears, simply type your command and hit Enter, as you did in previous versions of Windows.
In the screenshot above, we are launching the command prompt (DOS window) from the Run dialog - note that you can do the same through the start menu: simply press the Windows Logo key on your keyboard to open the start menu*, type the same "cmd" command (for example), and hit Enter: since DOS happens to be the first result, as is often the case with standard commands, hitting Enter will launch it - if not, you can use your Up and Down arrow to move through results.
* If your keyboard doesn't have a Windows logo key, press the Ctrl+Esc keyboard shortcut instead!
Using Microsoft Console Commands ("MSC") in the start menu
Here's a caveat to keep in mind: the Windows 7 start menu will not show these commands (like "
secpol" for the local security policy editor) unless you type the ".msc" extension after the command. This also applies to the Run dialog, but is at first a puzzling behavior for the start menu, whose results are usually right on target before you even finish typing the name of the program you want to launch. In other cases, like typing "winword" to launch the current version of Microsoft Word installed on your PC, typing the command name without extension works fine.
Enhancing a Run-like command with start menu shortcuts
Even better than the "Run" dialog, place strategically named shortcuts in the "Programs" folder of your start menu (for your profile, in other words), and access any program on your computer with a simple keystroke. To do so, type "%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu" in the Run dialog, Windows Explorer, or even the start menu's search field, and hit Enter - double-click on the Program subfolder in the folder that opens; create your shortcuts, and access them right away from the start menu - here's an example we use to launch Microsoft Office programs quickly, from the start menu: