App launchers are quite popular among computer users and I can understand why: they save you a few keystrokes and/or mouse clicks every time you run a program or open a folder – and if you’re anything like me, that means loads of keystrokes and mouse clicks by the end of the day.
But for those of you who prefer not to install extra programs as long as you can avoid it, I’ve got great news: you can replicate the same functionality of a standard launcher, but using the system’s own resources. In other words, we’re going to build a DIY app launcher using Windows Run command and program shortcuts.
The trick works as follows: create a new folder and fill it with shortcuts, one for each program you want to include in your custom launcher, and give it a proper name. I’d advise to use short, meaningful names which are quick to type and easy to remember. Then copy all those shortcuts to the C:\WINDOWS\system32 folder. Make sure they’re copied to the root folder, not to any subfolder. Once you do that, your launcher is ready.
Open the Run command in the Start menu and write the name of any of the shorcuts you just created: Windows will promptly open whatever app or folder it links to. To make things even easier, you can create a shortcut to the Run command by simply dragging and dropping its icon on the desktop. Another option is creating a new toolbar in the taskbar by right clicking on it, selecting Toolbars > New toolbar and browsing to your shortcut folder. You can use it as an extra Quick launch bar and place anywhere on the desktop.