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Run

The Start menu lists many common Windows XP applications and accessories, plus any third-party applications you’ve installed. It is far from complete, though, and navigating to the program you want is often fairly tedious.

Ironically, the increasing complexity of the system pushes even the most graphically oriented user back in the direction of the command line. Just about the quickest way to run any program that isn’t already on your Desktop is to type the name of the program at the command line. Windows XP offers three different command lines: the Address Bar, the Run dialog, and the command prompt window.

If you keep an Address Bar visible at all times (see “Address Bar”, earlier in this chapter), it is by far the most convenient of the three command lines. The Run Dialog is a close second. However, if you are a heavy user of command-line utilities, you may still find a command prompt window most useful. The command prompt window has an advantage in that it provides useful file management commands such as dir, del, copy, and so on.

For the most part, though, you can use the three command lines interchangeably. If you type the name of a Windows GUI application, it will launch in its own window. If you type the name of a text-based program (for example, ping) it will display its output in the current command prompt window, or, if issued from the Address Bar or Run dialog, will launch its own command prompt window, which will last only as long as the command itself executes.


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