Windows Vista Secret #3: Bringing Back Start / Run

The Start menu got a big overhaul in Windows Vista, with a number of significant changes made as a result of usability testing and research. One of the nicest innovations to my mind is the search bar at the bottom, which searches through your programs, document files, emails and anything else for which a search provider is registered; this saves a lot of time hunting around. Want to run Powerpoint without having to browse around the "All Programs" menu? Just type "Powerpoint" in the searchbar. Can't remember which of the myriad dialog boxes and settings you have to go through to find the Device Manager? Just type "device" in the search bar.

Of course, there are times when you may still just want the fast but dumb Run dialog that Windows XP provided:

It seems that some people think we got rid of this altogether, when in fact we just removed it from the default settings since most people won't need it any longer. The quick way to get at it is to use the Win+R shortcut key combination at any time - this is what I tend to use most of the time.

If you want to restore it permanently to your Start menu, here's what you do:

  1. Right-click on the Start menu and choose Properties;
  2. Select the Start Menu tab and click on the Customize... button;
  3. Ensure the "Run command" option is checked.

Now the Start / Run command will be restored to its full glory. Of course, you can swap in and out a bunch of other choices (I like the Administrative Tools to be right there, but I don't much care for Pictures, Games and Music to be top-level items on my work machine.) Here's how I have my default menu configured - you'll see it's also docked to the left-hand side of the screen:

Comments (16)

  1. Anonymous says:

    At first I was disappointed by the lack of "Run" by default, until I discovered the "Start Search" box actually performs a "run" as well. Just type in the path to the EXE or folder, and press enter!

  2. Tim Sneath says:

    Thanks ShadowChaser – that can work too for many situations, although since it doesn’t cache history in the same way that Start / Run does, it’s not possible to just start typing a web address and have the IE history ready at your fingertips, for instance.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Or, just press WindowsKey-R, as always. (Even without enabling it in the Start Menu)

  4. Dean Harding says:

    I think another problem that people have is that you can’t just type Win, P, Right-arrow to get into the all-programs menu. I know some people who have memorized great strings of keys to type to "navigate" their start menu in this way…

    To my mind, that’s a crazy way to use the start menu, and I actually like the search box (I mostly like how you can type the name of a program and you don’t need to know the path – I often go "win, type ‘procexp’" to start process explorer).

  5. Anonymous says:

    I just want a new shortcut for Sleep, Shutdown, and Restart.  I realize that between power settings you can set your power button to be the shortcut that you want, but I’m always at the keyboard and sometimes miss even the ugly Win,U,{check for right option},Enter.

  6. Anonymous says:


    3 petites astuces sous Vista. A mon avis, ca ne fait que commencer, il va y avoir plein de petit…

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’d have thought the primary concern with hiding "Run…" by default is the number of installation instructions I’ve seen which start with ‘Click the start menu, choose "Run…"  and type "D:setup.exe"’

    But then again who reads the instructions anyway 😉

  8. Anonymous says:

    Tim, in the screenshot you provided I notice something strange: glass is enabled but the user picture (you I suppose) is inside the Start panel, as in Vista Basic theme. Am I wrong?

    Thanks for the tip, but for me Start + R still remains my best friend:)

  9. Tim Sneath says:

    Hi Santosha, you’re right – the picture tile appears differently to "normal" for Aero Glass. This isn’t because of some private frankenbuild that I’m running on my machine: it’s the default behaviour when you move the taskbar to the left-hand side of the screen. I’ll post more about this in a later "secret".

  10. Anonymous says:

    Tim Sneath is on a roll with his series of Windows Vista Secrets posts, and rumour has it he has something…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Tim Sneathが彼のブログで「Windows Vista Secret」という連載(?)をやっています。役に立ちそうなものもあるので、ここでタイトルだけ日本語化して紹介します。詳細は(英語ですが)リンク先を見てください。

  12. Anonymous says:

    Okay well now the problem is that there is no shortcut key for run once it’s back in the start menu.  I have a huge habit of pressing control-esc and then pressing R for the run command.  Now when I do that it brings up a list of programs.

  13. Anonymous says:

    respecte sir,

    i dont have the run command in the start menu, how to get it back, i have check it in as it give reply in, but i could get back how to get by the RUN command,

    please help me

  14. Anonymous says:

    Tim Sneath hat einige sehr hilfreiche Windows Vista Secrets veröffentlicht die euch das Leben mit dem…

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