The Power of the Run Dialog for Accessing Things Quickly

Posted by Karl Belanger | 01/09/2018 | Access Technology
Screenshot of the Windows Run dialog box

The Run dialog has been around in Windows since the days of Windows 95, and can be accessed using the keyboard shortcut Windows+R. In Windows 10 the Run dialog can also be accessed from the Windows+X menu, and it has been in various locations in the start menu in older versions. The Run dialog consists of a box to type in, with Ok, Cancel, and Browse buttons. You can enter many different commands into the box, from launching screen readers or Microsoft Office programs, to opening websites, and even getting quick access to various Windows settings and administrative features. Using the Browse button it is possible to browse, using a standard Open dialog, to any program or file on the computer. Throughout this post there will be many commands that can be typed into the Run dialog, which will have quotes around them. When typing these into the dialog on your computer, do not include the quotes.

Launching Screen Readers

Job Access with Speech (JAWS), NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA), and Narrator can be started using the Run dialog. For NVDA, regardless of version, simply open the Run dialog and type “nvda” and press Enter. Similarly, Narrator is also launched by typing “narrator” in the Run dialog. The installed version of NVDA will start. For JAWS, it is necessary to enter the version number as well since it is possible to have multiple versions of JAWS installed. To launch JAWS 2018, the latest version, type “jaws2018.” To launch older versions, simply include their version number instead: “jaws18,” “jaws16,” etc. This can be very useful if you do not have a keyboard shortcut configured to launch your screen reader, or if you are on someone else’s computer that you know has a screen reader on it. Simply press Windows+R, type the command for the desired screen reader, and press enter. If done correctly, the screen reader will launch in a couple of seconds. If done incorrectly, you will usually hear an error sound. After that, press escape a few times and try again.

Opening Websites

The Run dialog can also be used to open websites, not only in your default browser, but in any browser installed on the computer. To open a site in your default browser, simply open the Run dialog and type the address. For example, to open the National Federation of the Blind home page, just type in the box. If the address doesn’t have the “www” in front, then add the “http://” to the front, as in To open a site in a specific browser type:

  • For Mozilla Firefox: “firefox
  • For Google Chrome: “chrome
  • For Microsoft Edge: “”
  • If Internet Explorer is still needed for something: “iexplore”

Opening Microsoft Office Programs

It is also possible to run any Microsoft Office program from the Run dialog. Running them in this way is equivalent to selecting them from the start menu or a desktop shortcut. Typing “winword” opens Microsoft Word, “excel” opens Microsoft Excel, “outlook” opens Microsoft Outlook, and “powerpnt” opens Microsoft PowerPoint. These will work for all modern versions of Office, from at least 2007.

Opening Windows Settings, Administrative Features, or Anything at All

It is possible to do many more things with the Run dialog, from opening system settings like Programs and Features, Task Manager or Device Manager, other programs like Calculator and the Command Prompt, or just about anything at all on your computer. To open many of the user folders in Windows, such as Documents, Downloads, Music, etc., just type the name of the folder in the Run dialog. To open any other folder or file, simply type the full path of the file. For example, to open a file called demo.docx, the path would look something like “c:\users\user\documents\test.docx.” This also works for files on USB or other removable drives provided you know the drive letter.

Opening Windows Programs

Some other programs besides Office can be opened from the Run dialog.

  • Open Calculator: “calc”
  • Open Notepad: “notepad”
  • Open Command Prompt: “cmd”

Opening Control Panel Items

These settings are still valid in Windows 10, but are mostly for older versions of Windows as more and more items are being included in the Settings app in Windows 10.

  • Open Control Panel: “control” 
  • Open Date and Time settings: “Timedate.cpl”
  • Open Device Manager: “devmgmt.msc”
  • Open Disc Cleanup: “cleanmgr”
  • Open Ease of Access Center: “utilman”
  • Open Internet Options: “inetcpl.cpl”
  • Manage computer power settings: “powercfg.cpl”
  • Open Programs and Features: “appwiz.cpl”

Windows 10 Settings

Here are some commands that open specific pages within Windows 10 Settings.

  • Open Settings: “ms-settings”
  • Open the Apps and Features page, equivalent to Programs and Features: “Ms-settings:appsfeatures”
  • Open the Power and Sleep options: “Ms-settings:powersleep”
  • Access Bluetooth settings: “ms-settings:Bluetooth”
  • Adjust Date, Time and Time zone: “ms-settings:dateandtime”

Resources for Run Commands

Here are two resources for a vast quantity of options from the Run dialog, some of which are included in this article. There are probably even more commands than listed in these articles, so go ahead and search on Google to see if you can open the program you’re interested in through the Run dialog.

How to Access Individual Settings Directly in Windows 10 Using Run Dialog Box

A Complete List of Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts and Run Commands


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