Windows Mobile Tip: Accessing the Run dialog

Picture of Windows Mobile Pocket PC Today Screen showing the Run dialogWindows Mobile has had a run dialog similiar to the one found in desktop versions of Windows since Windows 95 for as long as I can remember. This feature is not well known however.

On the main Today screeen of a Windows Mobile powered Pocket PC (Windows Mobile Professional or Classic for those up with the current lingo) you can tap and hold down the ‘Action’ key while tapping and holding the stylus on the clock shown on the nav bar. The ‘Action’ key is usually the center of the D-Pad or Ctrl if you are using the emulator.

Picture of popup menu displayed when user taps and holds on clock When you release the ‘Action’ key a small popup menu will appear, and you can select the ‘Run’ option which will display a small dialog.

Within this dialog you can enter the path to any executable, as well as any required command line parameters.

Examples you may like to try out are as follows:

  • calc.exe
  • iexplore.exe
  • ctlpnl.exe cplmain.cpl,4,0

For more details on accessing control panel applets from the command line, like the last example demonstrates refer to the Using Control Panel article on the Pocket PC Developer Network website.

This feature can be handy during development of applications for tasks such as re-registering COM dlls, however it is rather impractical for day to day use due to the typical slowness of entering the command line and the fact that unlike on the desktop there is no history of previous commands.

As an additional tip, did you know that if you tap and hold without the ‘Action’ key being pressed a different popup menu will appear? This one allowing you to select between an analogue and digital clock being displayed on the navbar.

8 Responses to “Windows Mobile Tip: Accessing the Run dialog”

  1. Timo says:

    Nice tip, thanks. I first had a little problems making it work because my WM5 smartphone (MDA Vario/HTC Wizard) did no show the clock in Today screen’s title bar, but as part of the Today screen itself, where the trick isn’t working. But after enabling the clock to display in the title bar for all applications (that option pops up if you click the clock in the Today screen on my smartphone), then opening some application (e.g. contacts), I was finally able to open the Run dialog as described.

  2. That’s a good point Timo, I guess I’ve been lucky with devices which have had the clock enabled by default. I realised there was an option to turn it off, but didn’t think about it while I wrote this blog entry. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    By the way I like your new blog, in particular the project management and team lead orientated posts. As something I am keen to do more of in the future, it’s good getting tips from those which are already doing it.

  3. Eric says:

    This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title Windows Mobile Tip: Accessing the Run dialog. Thanks for informative article

  4. Very vool tip, thanks!

  5. Todd says:

    This is the first I’ve head of this. Thanks for the tip! But now it makes me wonder if there’s a registry key to disable this behavior?

  6. Hi Todd,

    Yes it is possible to disable the run dialog as part of a security policy.

    The registry key that needs modifying is HKLM\Security\Policies\Shell\NoRunDlg. This is a DWORD with the value 1 meaning the run menu is not available.

    For further details take a look at Rabi Satter’s blog post on the subject.

    Hope this helps,
    Christopher Fairbairn

  7. Todd says:

    Christopher, thanks for saving me several hours of Google searches! FYI, my Sprint PPC 6700 also does not show the clock in the title bar. But I found that from the Today screen, I can still make the Run dialog appear by using Action + tap-and-hold on the battery icon.

  8. Mike Welch says:

    I was unable to stop reading your blog until I finished every single article. Thanks for consuming my entire evening :) I should know how to do this on a wordpress site like this, but how do I get notifications when you post something new?

    Okay, with that said, here’s a backdoor you’ll like that is similar to the run dialog trick. Press Action and tap the notification bar (what we would call the caption bar in desktop lingo…the bar at the top) then drag your stylus to a window you wish to inspect. Release the stylus and, if you did it right, you will see a wee bit of window information such as handle, class name, etc.. This hidden ditty will walk the inheritance up the chain. If that isn’t clear, send me a direct email (you have it) and I’ll draft some screen captures for you.

    Great blog. Must have more. :)

    Mike Welch
    HP iPAQ Team
    Houston, TX

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