Use the Run Dialog
The old ‘Start > Run’ dialog may not be shown by default on the Start menu anymore, but it’s still there (press ‘Win-R’) and it’s as useful as ever. The more you use it, the better it becomes, because autocomplete kicks in, while typing paths is also quick, as all available sub-folders pop up as you type, helping you to locate and travel through your filesystem that little bit quicker.
Let’s start with a Windows 10-only tip. The new Settings menu can be labyrinthine to navigate, but the Run dialog gives you access to any section with the following syntax: ms-settings:<shortcut> You need to replace ‘<shortcut>’ with your choice of location, such as ‘ms-settings:windowsupdate’, ‘ms-settings:lockscreen’ or ‘ms-settings:display’.
The Run dialog also speeds up access to the Control Panel, although many of the shortcuts now redirect to their Settings equivalent, such as ‘control desktop’. Those that don’t include ‘control admintools’, ‘control system’ (System Control Panel) and ‘control sysdm.cpl’ (System Properties). See a full list at support.microsoft.com/help/192806. Others include ‘devmgmt.msc’ (Device Manager), ‘taskmgr’ (Task Manager), ‘cleanmgr’ (Disk Cleanup), as well as any program shortcuts or program file names (such as ‘winword’ for Microsoft Word).
One other major use for the Run dialog is to browse hidden user folders — specifically your application data folders. This is done with environment variables — %AppData% points to C:\User\<Yourname>\.AppData\Roaming, for instance, while %LocalAppData% redirects to C:\User\<Yourname>/.AppData\Local. Type “%AppData%\” and you see a list of sub-folders — keep typing, and they filter down until you can select one.
Other environment variables include %windir% (your Windows directory, typically C:\Windows), %OneDrive% (your OneDrive folder) and %ProgramData% (the location of the ProgramData folder).
The Run dialog box is a timesaving superstar.