Today I am going to talk about a handy dandy little command available to us from the Windows Command Prompt.

If you are like myself and work in the IT world your computer and the applications, tools and configuration of it mean the world. Sometimes, as in my case, you have a set of applications and tools that are constantly open on your machine, from the time you flick it on until the time you shut down for the day. Instead of having to start each application individually each time you boot up, wouldn’t it be nice to have them all start as part of the computer booting up? Take for example myself. I ALWAYS have TOAD, OUTLOOK, a Browser, and AutoSys open on my work laptop. So I created a simple batch file that uses the START command to open all these tools for me when my computer starts up. That way I can boot my computer, then go get some coffee, chat with a colleague or get some breakfast, and when I get back all those applications are loaded and ready for use.

I know half of you are saying, “Chace, why don’t you just add these items to your Start Up directory?” That is a good question, but I have found with different versions of Windows and depending upon the application, they don’t always start up as desired. Aside from that this gives you one place to add, subtract and adjust what you want to start, just simply by editing the Batch File.

Below is the first part of the help content on the command START:

New Text Document

New Text Document

Now we will go over how to use this in an example Batch File. To those of you who are new to coding and using Batch Files this will be a good start for you. To create a Batch Script, simple create a new text document in a location of your choice (we’ll move it to the proper location for system start up later). Then as you can see the icon of your new text file, right click on it and say rename, or click once on the icon, wait momentarily and click again until the name appears in a text box that you can change, as shown to the left.

Now it is up to you what you want to call your Batch Script, just make sure it ends in ‘.bat’. One thing you need to be careful of is the setting in Windows in which the extensions of known extensions is hidden. If this is enabled and you change a text file’s extension to ‘.bat’ it will likely tack an extra ‘.txt’ extension on your file, causing a ‘.bat.txt’ extension which doesn’t exist yet.

You may also get a warming message that looks like the one to the right, go ahead and click yes, this is exactly what we want to do! Sometimes when you change a file’s extention to an unknown format or a format that it is not supposed to be, the actual contents will be changed causing unwanted functionality. The other thing that can happen is that extra characters will be added or taken out, that can also impact the way the file actually executes.

Morning Batch

Morning Batch

Now you should have a new batch script that does absolutely nothing, so let’s get to the actual command already. The command is simple, to use the most basic function just use the ‘start’ command, followed by the /d parameter and the path of the application/tool you’d like to use in quotes, followed by the executable name. This will also work with another batch file. In my example I start some standard geek stuff, but you can start all sorts of things, from Chat clients, to video games to Microsoft Word. The best part is it can be as complex or simple as you’d like. Below is what I have in one of my batch files that runs when Windows boots. Take a peak at the command, it’s pretty straight forward. By using the various parameters mentioned earlier in this post you can play around with they’re uses.

Once you have your file setup you need to put it in your start up directory so that each time Windows starts up your script will start all your tools for you. To do this it depends on what version of Windows you are currently running. The easiest way to accomplish this without going into too much more detail is to click on your Start Button. Navigate to All Programs >Startup, but instead of left-clicking on the Startup folder, right-click and choose Explore. Now you should see a Windows Explorer window opened with all the Startup items you already have loading on Startup. Simply copy your new Batch Script and copy it into this directory. That’s it!

Now reboot your computer and you should see a “black-screen” pop-up when your Windows screen first appears. DON’T close it, just let it run, and you will see your applications begin to run.

Hope someone finds this useful, I will convert it to a tutorial later and place it in that section of the site also. Cheers!