Windows “run commands”

“Run commands” can make your Windows usage more productive.

There are often several ways of achieving the same end in Windows. An example of this is “run commands”. A “run command” is a an instruction to run a specific program or utility. It is an alternative to finding the program name or icon in Windows that would have achieved the same end. The advantage, of run commands, of course, is that you don’t have to hunt around Windows to find them.

As an example – in Windows 7 we can change the appearance of the desktop by navigating to the “personalization” screen as follows:

  • Start button
  • Control Panel option
  • View by small icons or large icons
  • Personalization

This can be achieved with a run command:

  • Start button
  • Run option
  • type in “control desktop” and then click on OK

In this case “control desktop” is the run command. There are well over a hundred of these. In each case, they are executed by opening the “Start menu”, clicking on the “run” option and then typing in the specfic command. I find that that it is worth remembering a few that I use often and, just as importantly, knowing where I can find a list containing many more. This can often cut down the frustration of not being able to find a particular command in Windows that you know is there but which you can’t find. In these cases, scanning through a list of run commands can be quicker and less frustrating.

If the “run” command does not appear on your Windows 7 start menu, you can configure it to do so by following Microsoft’s instructions.

Windows 7 Run Box
Windows 7 Run Box

Also, you can bring up the run box even if it does not appear on your start menu by depressing the key with the Window logo (if your keyboard has one) and typing the letter r. This brings up the “run box” ready to type the command into.


Windows remembers the previous run commands that you have issued and these can be accessed by clicking on the triangle at the right of the text-input area. This means that you don’t have to remember the name of the command if you have used it before: you just have to recognise it as the one you want when you see it.

I’ve sifted through lists of these run commands and selected 25 that you may find useful. I’ve tested these in Windows 7 but they may not all work in earlier versions of Windows. You can find more comprehensive lists and more information here.

Description Run Command
Add/Remove Programs appwiz.cpl
Administrative Tools control admintools
Calculator calc
Character map charmap
Computer Management compmgmt.msc
Control Panel control
Date and Time Properties timedate.cpl
Device Manager devmgmt.msc
Disk Cleanup Utility cleanmgr
Display Properties desk.cpl
Fonts control fonts
Malicious Software Removal Tool mrt
Notepad notepad
Power Configuration powercfg.cpl
Printers and Faxes control printers
Regional Settings intl.cpl
Security Center wscui.cpl
System Configuration Utility msconfig
System Information msinfo32
Task Manager taskmgr
Ease of Access Centre utilman
Windows Explorer explorer
Windows Firewall firewall.cpl
Windows Magnifier magnify
About Windows winver

One thought on “Windows “run commands”

  1. Very useful. I suspect it is only the older generation of IT specialists who grew up having to work with the command prompt who still use these tricks to work more quickly.

    The Run As command is a godsend when you need to temp. gain administrator privileges to sort out an issue on a PC.

Comments are closed.