Running a command, applying changes and other Windows Techniques

If you frequently RUN Windows System Utilities and apply changes to your profile, then you may know most of the tips given here. If you are only starting out, then you definitely need to know these small tips that can make your life easier. These tips constitute a series. Please read all the series posts.

In this article, we will discuss the different ways by which we can RUN a Windows utility. In order to run a program directly (by typing its name in the RUN box) it should be in a folder specified in the PATH variable. We will come to the PATH variable in a later post. While one can always run a program by double clicking on it, there are always easier methods to do it. Using keyboard shortcuts is second nature to anyone who has been working with a computer for a reasonable amount of time.

The easiest and quickest way to run a program or command is to type it directly into the Start Menu of Windows 7. This trick will only work if the item is part of the start menu. For example, you can open the Command Prompt by typing “cmd” and pressing ENTER or you can open Microsoft Word by typing “Office Word” and pressing ENTER. Do remember the functionality is limited and the program that will start will be the first item that appears in the Search.

RUN a command using Quick Search
Running a Command using the Start Menu

Using WIN+R – Run

The most popular of all is the normal RUN dialog box method. You press WIN+R and then type in the command name into the box that appears. You can only run a program which can be found using the PATH system variable. (Type in “echo %PATH%” in a Command Prompt and see for yourself). You need to type the name of the program without the extension (the .exe part)

Running a command using the RUN dialog box.

Using the Command Prompt

You can run any command/program by typing in its name in the command prompt. The command prompt can be opened by typing “cmd” after pressing WIN+R or clicking on the “Command Prompt” icon under “START>>All Programs>>Accessories” The rules that apply for WIN+R applies here too.

Comamnd Prompt
Running a command from the command prompt.

From Task Manager

This is same as the RUN dialog method. You can see a similar box dialog if you open “File>>New Task” under task Manager. You can type in all the things you could do in a WIN+R dialog. Why do you need to use this method then? If Windows Explorer has crashed and you don’t know what to do, press ALT+CTRL+DEL and open the Task Manager. Now go to File>>New Task and type “explorer” and press Enter. Windows Explorer will open again. (Windows explorer is the program that you use to open My Computer or My Documents)

Running a command using Task-manager File menu

How to open TaskManager

TaskManager can be opened using multiple ways.

  2. Press ALT+CTRL+DEL and click on the Start Taskmanager button
  3. Type in taskmgr into RUN(WIN+R) dialog
  4. Right click on the Task bar and selectStart Task Manager

If you didn’t already know, you can close any program or system process using Taskmanager.

Restarting Windows Explorer to apply settings

Many of the Windows System changes require you to restart Windows. This can be avoided in most of the cases just by restarting Windows Explorer. Please make sure you have Taskmanager or Command Prompt open while closing windows explorer.

  1. Open Taskmanager
  2. Goto Processes tab
  3. Select explorer.exe from the list and press End Process
  4. Wait a second until it closes
  5. Now goto File>>New task, enter explorer and press ENTER

Another technique can also be used to close Windows Explorer. Press WIN+D to show the desktop. Now bring up the shutdown dialog by pressing ALT+F4. Press ALT+SHIFT+CTRL and click Cancel.

Open Shutdown options dialog box.
Press ALT+CTRL+SHIFT and 'Cancel' in the Shutdown Dialog

any command that can be used in Run box can also be used in the command prompt and the New task option of Taskmanager. In the next post, we will be discussing the programs and commands that can be run using these techniques.

Bowser Size from Google Labs

Browser size has been integrated into Google Analytics and would soon move out of Google labs.

This handy Google Labs tool will allow you to see your website as seen by users with different screen resolutions. One of the major challenges while designing a website template is to design the template so that user can read the relevant information at the very first glance itself. Sadly this depends on the visitors screen resolution. This tool from Google Labs will overlay a transparent ruler like layout to the web address you give it, thus enabling you to see how your web site looks atĀ  screen resolutions other than yours.

Google Labs browser Size Screen cap
Screen Shot of Simple Informations on browser Size by Google Labs

The tool allows basic settings such as transparency adjustment of the ruler. You can use Google Analytics to know what resolution is used by most number of your visitors. Then you can head over to Browser size and see what all portions of your website is viewable at that resolution. This will allow you to make your web site more accessible and improve the “page views/visit” as well as “bounce rate”.

The following is a screen shot of my Google Analytics page showing the details of this blogs visitors and their screen resolution.

Visitor by resolution chart
Statisctics of visitors to this site by resolution – Google Analytics

Link : Browser Size | Google Labs | Google Analytics

How to disable access to Drives using Disk Management

One of the visitors of SI, Joseph, recently asked in a comment to the post “How to disable access to specific drives with registry” how he could disableĀ  access to a drive even for programs like Ashampoo which managed to override the registry trick. This is the trick you can use to prevent such sotware from accessing your drives. In one of the previous posts we had discussed how to Manage disk drives using Disk drive management console Object of Windows. We can use the Management Console to disable access to select drives also.

  1. Open the Disk Management Console

To open the Disk Management Console type “diskmgmt.msc” into the RUN dialog box and press ENTER.

Enter diskmgmt.msc into the RUN dialog and press ENTER
  1. Select the Drive

All the Drives in the storage devices connected to your computer will be listed here. Select the drive to which you want to prevent access and right click on it. Now select the option “Change Drive Letter and Paths..”

Right click on the drive and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths.."
  1. Remove the drive letter assignment

In the Dialog that opens, click “Remove” and then “Yes” if prompted for confirmation.

Remove the drive letter assignment.
  1. Hooray, you have disabled access to the drive

The change takes effect immediately. If it doesn’t, the try restarting windows explorer as explained.

The drive is removed from any sort of navigation..

The above mentioned trick will prevent everyone from accessing the drive for read or write purposes. Checkout the related posts for more…

Free Disk tools to analyse Disk usage graphically

Disk Usage Analyser(DUA) is a GNome ustility available for Linux. As the name indicates DUA scans the filesystem and finds out how much space is occupied by each directory and file. It then shows the usage along side a folder tree as a bar graph.When you click on a directory name, memory usage by each subfolder and files can be seen as an arc diagram on the right pane.

Left side shows a tree structure and bar graphs while the right pane shows the selected directories memory usage and its contents.
Left side shows a tree structure and bar graphs while the right pane shows the selected directories memory usage and its contents.

The Disk Usage Analyzer can be used to find out which directory or file uses how much space. It can be very helpful if you are trying to clean-up some Hard Disk Space from your PC. A similar tool for Windows is WinDIrStat at but this one is a little less visaully attractive one. For KDE users KDirStat might be a solution.

Open and save Office 2007 files in Office XP and 2003

The easiest way to enable support for the new Office 2007 file formats in Office XP is to install the Migration pack provided by Microsoft free of cost. With the introduction of the XML standard in file format, the new files with extensions ending in x (docx, xslx, pptx) will not be compatible with the older Microsoft Office.

With Migration pack installed you can either save in all the New office supported formats as well as open all the new format files. Here is a screen shot of the Save As dialogue in Office XP with 2007 compatibility pack installed.


Main advantages f the new file format are that it is a standard XML format and also the compression ratio is better for the XML formats. You can open all the 2007 Office files using any archiving tool.

The Office 1007 compatibility pack is free of cost and can be downloaded form Microsoft Download center. You must install all High Priority updates from Microsoft update center before installing this pack. Here is the Office 2007 compatibility pack download page at Microsoft Download Center. The file is a 27.5Mb Windows Executable.

Get the color palette used on any web page with Palette Grabber

Palette Grabber is a simple plug in for Firefox made by Konstantine Prevas. It will get the colors used on a web page at the click of the mouse. You can save the color palette in the following formats –

.aco Adobe color Palette
.clr Flash color palette
.psppalette Paint Shop Pro color palette
.gpl GIMP color palette
.act Adobe fireworks color table
.clr MAC OS X color palette

You can use palette grabber to get the colors used in the template of any web site you like.

How to get icons from exe and dll files of programs

The icons that are used by programs such as Photoshop or Microsoft Office are actually stored inside the exe or dll files coming along with the program. To capture and save these icons you can use two methods. One is by using a program that can open an exe file such as PE resource explorer. The other method is simpler and uses a small program that is used only to extract icons from exe and dll files.

Icons inside photoshop.exe opened with copicone

Copicone is an amazingly small program which was created by Guillaume Ryder. It is only 9Kb in size and comes in a zipped package weighing only 4.5Kb. Copicone is free just like all the other utilities avilable at Guillaume’s web site. Just open the dll file or exe file using copycone and you can see the icons. Select the one you want to save and click Save.

Copycone is available only in French. But the limited number of buttons will allow you to easily locate the appropriate controls neede.

Download the Icon extractor – Copicone here. If you want to create your own icons for free read it here.

Process Explorer NT – the real task manager

Process Explorer NT is the replacement for the default Task Manager in Windows from Microsoft (links are given at bottom of page). It is also available from Sysinternals which is now a part of Microsoft. Among the many tools they offer a post have been made about TCP Viewer earlier.

Process Explorer is just every system administrators dream come true. Among the many functions provided the mainly noticeable ones are listed here.

Processes could be suspended and resumed. Just like the way you pause and resume music player you can suspend and then resume processes. This will be a great benefit if a program like a video encoder doesn’t have pause function.

Process Properties in Process Explorer NT

You can Restart, Search online about any process. There is also a Properties view for processes which will show detailed stats of the process its handles, IO activity, Virtual an physical memory usage, TCP IP history, Environment Variables etc.

Process Explorer is able to replace task manager. You could do it right from the menus it self. This is done by a simple Registry Edit. I’ll post about it later.

This is the one of the basic tools everybody should have. Another one I would suggest would be a Free Data Recovery software.

Download Process Explorer NT here or visit the software page at Sysinternals.

Free Network folder scanner – NetScan from SoftPerfect

If you have a LAN at your office or home, then you must probably have used the My Network Places tool in Windows (keyboard shortcuts). But it is very slow and lacks in functionality. Try the Free and better Network Scanner tool Netscan from Softperfect.

Free file recovery software from Softperfect

Netscan Network scanning tool Main interface

Netscan’s main merits are that it is a freeware, it doesn’t require any installation and it is lite at only 631kb. According to the makers the
Key features are

* Pings computers.
* Does not require administrative privileges.
* Detects hardware (MAC) addresses even across routers.
* Detects hidden shared folders (normally invisible on the network) and write accessible shares.
* Detects your internal and external IP addresses.
* Scans for listening TCP ports and SNMP services.
* Retrieves currently logged-on users.
* You can mount and explore network resources.
* Can launch external third party applications.
* Exports results to HTML, XML, CSV and TXT
* Supports Wake-On-LAN and remote shutdown.
* It is absolutely free, requires no installation, and does not contain any adware/spyware/malware.

Pros :

advanced features like open port detection and hidden folder detection. Also finds if a drive has write access. Free of cost. Light

Cons :

Slow. Unable to stop a scanning process even though an option is provided. Slow response

Conclusion :

Although Netscan is Free it is comparatively slow and tend to forget some of its own features.
Go for it if you are not a power user and just needs to scan network.
This one is not for geeks get away if you are one !

Price : Free

Download Netscan