The StartRunNoHOMEPATH policy affects whether the user’s HOME path is the current directory when you use Start.Run, but make sure you read that carefully

A customer (via the customer liaison) discovered that even though they had set the Start­Run­No­HOME­PATH policy, they found "if the user creates a Notepad file, the file is searched in the user's HOME directory, in contradiction of Start­Run­No­HOME­PATH policy,"

I asked the liaison to confirm: "The steps you describe are rather vague. Are you saying that the problem occurs when the user opens the Run dialog and types Notepad filename.txt?"

The customer liaison replied, "I believe the scenario is close to what you describe. The user opens the Run dialog, types Notepad, then types some text into Notepad and then does a Save As. I will confirm with the customer."

A few days later (the customer was on leave), the customer liaison provided the exact steps:

  • Open the Start menu (Windows 7)
  • Type Notepad to search the Start menu.
  • When the Notepad program is found, click on it.
  • Type some text.
  • Perform a Save As. This operation is slow. Network traces show many accesses to the user's HOME directory.

Okay, well, now that the steps are all carefully spelled out, it is clear what is going on. Or more accurately, it is clear what is not going on.

The Start­Run­No­HOME­PATH policy controls the working directory when a program is run from the Start.Run dialog. Like it says in the KB article:


If you have a home folder set and you try to run a program by clicking Start and then clicking Run, Windows searches your home folder for the program before searching the path.

The article then goes on to describe how you can solve the problem if those are the symptoms you are trying to relieve.

But those symptoms do not match the customer's problem.

The customer ran the program directly from the Start menu, not by going through the Start.Run dialog. Therefore, the KB article and the Start­Run­No­HOME­PATH policy do not apply.

Policies do what they are documented to do, not what you wish they did.

Comments (15)
  1. Murkel says:


    Is that always the case?

    If so the customer had this happen once and directly reported it and went surfing instead..

    If he had browsed to the folder he wanted and saved then problem would have disappeared.

  2. Joshua says:

    Everybody regards that box as the equivalent of start/run. Seriously what did you expect?

  3. Paul says:

    "Policies do what they are documented to do, not what you wish they did" – Another Raymond Chen classic!

  4. Dan Bugglin says:

    @dwalker shortcuts in the start menu can have a specific "Start in" folder location set on them.

    Notepad's (at least on Windows 7) is explicitly set to "%HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH%" so that is where it will start.

    In any case, Start Run is hidden by default on Vista and up, the idea being the user can search the start menu now (and thus they will launch the Start menu shortcut instead, at least in this case, which has "Start in" folder configured etc).

    for an Open/Save dialog the application can point it to a specific directory to use.  If not done, it will default to either the application folder or the working directory (I forget which), which will be determined by "Start in" or whatever.  If the app keeps using the same dialog object it can remember the last used folder all by itself, although if it wants to have it happen cross-session then it needs to store the path somewhere and set it back on the object next time it runs.

  5. > Policies do what they are documented to do


  6. confused says:

    And even with Start, Run, I imagine it would happily enough save in the user's home directory. There seems to be a deeper confusion between "path" and "working directory".

  7. morlamweb says:

    @Joshua: I'd expect someone who reads a policy named "StartRunNoHomePath" to infer that the policy affects, um, Start > Run and nothing else.  Especially if they've read any of Raymond's past posts on policies.

    Followup question: is there an equivalent policy for programs started via the search box on the Start menu?  "StartSearchNoHomePath", perhaps?  How about a policy for the search charm in Windows 8 Metro?

  8. Evan says:

    "confused", ironically enough, seems to have hit the larger issue… Notepad isn't being found in the user's home directory, so I don't see why that policy would apply even if it, uh, did apply.

  9. Mc says:

    Almost related bonus tip.    Do "Start/Run"  or Windows+R   and type  .  <enter> (just the period/fullstop)   and you'll open explorer at your profile (c:users<username>) .   It's quick and easy.  

  10. laonianren says:

    Even if this policy had done what the customer wanted, it still wouldn't have helped.

    The file open/save dialog in notepad doesn't open in the current directory*.  It opens in the directory used last time.

    * Except maybe the first time notepad is used.

  11. John says:


    If you aren't trying to get to your profile folder the Windows Logo Key + E will open explorer to "My Computer/Computer/Local PC" which I find more useful, its been there since XP I believe? (maybe only Vista+ ?).

    Lots of useful Windows Logo Key shortcuts that people don't seem to know about (Aero Snap is my favorite, a must for multiple monitors)

  12. DWalker says:

    From the user's perspective, running a program directly from Start might not be much different than going through Start/Run.  I wonder why the behavior is actually different for Start vs. Start/Run.

    And the documentation talks about "searching (your home folder) for the *program*", not about where the default SaveAs will point, once the program is running (the working directory).  Although those are likely related, they might not be the same.  Many programs default SaveAs to the Documents directory.  There are many options that are intertwingled here….

  13. Evan says:

    @John: "the Windows Logo Key + E will open explorer to "My Computer/Computer/Local PC" which I find more useful, its been there since XP I believe? (maybe only Vista+ ?)."

    Since XP?

    I can't vouch for the starting location, but Win-E started explorer in Windows 95.

  14. Nick says:

    @Joshua: No they don't. You can't possibly know that. You're wrong (because I don't, so already, you're wrong).

  15. Neil says:

    @Evan Seems to open at My Computer, but then I don't have the Active Desktop update, which would probably have changed it to My Documents.

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