Subscriber Gary wrote me after a recent newsletter to ask:
Terry — your article about MSconfig made me realize that I have an issue:
I’ve had this 7 Acer laptop for some time, but I must have been using the XP desktop for
the Run command and for the DOS window.
I can’t find either of these on this 7. Is it right under my nose, or what??
In the case of Windows 7, I’ve previously written about adding the Run command to the Windows Start Menu. You can find out how in my article Adding the Run Command to the Windows 7 Start Menu.
Once you have added it, opening a "DOS window" command window is simple — in the Run command box in the Start Menu, type CMD and press the Enter key.
You can also set up a CMD shortcut in Windows 7, in the same manner as shown below for Windows 8.
The advantage of the shortcut approach is that, if you are not logged in using an Administrator userID (and you shouldn’t be — Windows 7 and Win8 make it easy to execute individual commands as administrator), you can right-click on the CMD shortcut and select Run as Administrator.
Most activities don’t require an administrator-type userID, so you can help protect your system from malware by not using an administrator user ID for your normal activities. I use a regular user ID for almost everything.
For Windows 8, adding a Command window shortcut to the Windows 8 Desktop is our task.
First, we right-click on a blank portion of the Windows 8 Desktop. From the popup Context Menu, we can select New and the Shortcut.
That will open a dialog box for us to point to the correct file to be opened (cmd.exe). You can simply enter
in the field labelled "Type the location of the item" or you can Browse to find the file, or you can paste in the actual location (if Windows 8 is installed on C:, then the location is C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe as shown in the image below.
This dialog box is the result of right-clicking on my cmd.exe icon and then selecting Properties. Notice that this same dialog box allows you to change the icon, if you wish. You can also set the shortcut to always Run As Administrator, but that’s not necessary or desirable.
Below is the Command window (also called CMD window and DOS window) that opens when you use the shortcut. You can see that I’ve already run services.msc, which allows me to control which services are running and which start automatically.
You can run services.msc as an Administrator or as a regular user. Of course, if you’re not running as an administrator, you won’t actually be able to start or stop any services, or change their auto-starting or other parameters.
Since Windows 8 doesn’t actually have a Start Menu, despite Microsoft’s recent attempts to rename the tiled interface (formerly known as the Metro interface and then the Modern interface) to "’Start Menu"), Windows 8 really doesn’t come with a Start Menu.
Even worse, although previously announced to come in an update for Windows 8, it currently does not appear that a functional Start Menu will arrive until Windows 9.
This is what the Windows Desktop has instead of a Start Button — but it only jumps to the tiled interface.
So, how do you add a Run command to the Windows 8 Start Menu, if there isn’t a Start Menu?
Very easily — you add a third-party Start Menu. There are both free and commercial products to do this.
I’ll talk about the one I use, Start8 from Stardock, which is $4.95 as a one-time purchase.
Below, you can see my Start8 Start Menu in Windows 8 (on my notebook), which includes the Run command.
Setting up the Run command was as simple as right-clicking on the Start Button, selecting Configure Start8, and, for the Run command, selecting "Display as a link." The default option was "Don’t display this item."
I’m not sure about the other Start Menu replacement products, but I expect that they offer a similar configuration option.