Stupid Testing Trick #3: Avoid the Start Menu with the Run window


I’ve been enjoying the new Start menu “Start Search” feature in Windows Vista which seems to be a cross between the Run command and a Search with intellisense (like Google search). It’s pretty much abolished my old ways of using the Start Menu which was slow and cumbersome: click Start, click Programs, search through a mile long list of programs, click the program menu, and FINALLY click the program. Yeah, like I said… slow. The Vista “Start Search” process is: Windows Key, start to type the program name (intellisense finds it), hit enter (notice, no mouse clicks).


Using this feature and seeing how it fast it can be makes me wonder why I don’t use more of the very similar Run command window in XP or Server 2003 while testing. It’s similar, but not nearly as smart with it’s lack of intellisense.


When testing I spend quite a bit of time in certain Windows applications and navigating to those applications is painful after being spoiled with the Vista feature. The pain grows from a mild finger ache to a flat out flat out smash your finger in the car door throbbing when you do it on a VPC! Working between multiple VPCs, setup different ways, leaves you sometimes without the shortcuts you may have placed on the desktop for speed.


Enter the Run command. Its simple, and I’m almost positive you’ve used it before:


Run command



Windows key+R, type the app name, hit enter. No mouse clicks. Just one caveat: You need to know the app names. I got a list of the application names for my most common apps used during testing and am getting myself in the habit. After an entire day spent in VPCs I’ve decided this the way to go. I’m hooked. To help me get my favorite app names memorized I’ll be putting a tiny cheat sheet on the corner of my monitor. These are the app names I’ll be committing to memory slowly but surely:


Control Panel Apps
System Properties: sysdm.cpl
Add/Remove Programs: appwiz.cpl
Automatic Updates:  wuaucpl.cpl


System Apps
Performance Monitor: Perfmon
Services: Services.msc
Event Viewer: eventvwr
Computer Manger: compmgmt.msc
Task Manager: taskmgr

Common Testing apps
MS Word = winword
MS Excel = excel
MS Paint = mspaint
Notepad = notepad


Again, simple, fast and efficient:


Windows key+R, perfmon, Enter key


Almost like Vista, just a little extra brain power is all.


If you’re not doing it already, get in the habit and save yourself some time. Yeah, yeah, this stuff has been around a long time I know. It’s just hard to get in the habit. Sounds like a fun little QA New Year Resolution doesn’t it?


Here is a large list of Run commands for 117 apps.


Here is a list of all the commands for the Control Panel.

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