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Caffeinated Coder A Grande, Triple Shot, Non-Fat Core Dump by Russell Ball

I've read and listened to Scott Hanselman sing the praises of SlickRun for a long time, but I just recently got around to using it.

For those of you who are as slow to catch on as me, it is essentially just a tricked-out version of the Run window that allows you launch programs much faster than you can through the traditional hide-and-seek start menu approach. This is especially true if you are a tool addict and have a start menu that stretches across your screen.

Best of all, it is FREE, which is one of the few things that still fits into my budget these days. It also only takes seconds to grok and begin saving time with it.

To get started, all you have to do is right-click on the floating SlickRun textbox and select "New Magic Word". When the dialog box with the nifty wizard hat pops up, you simply drag the magic geen lightsaber circled below over to an open program and it will figure out the program's filepath. You can also create the mapping by just dragging a shortcut from the start menu on to the floating SlickRun textbox prompt.

Next, you think of a clever and creative keyword (for example NCoverExplorer for NCoverExplorer) and then optionally assign paramters to it. Parameters are cool because you can do things like open FireFox and surf to your favorite porn site in one swift and efficient motion. For NCoverExplorer, I set the parameter value to the path of the NCover xml result file that gets generated from our automated build process.

Finally, thanks to the magic of intellisense, you just have to type a couple of letters until the keyword you want appears in the textbox and then hit return in order to launch it. Easy, huh?

Just remember, REAL geeks don't use the start menu. If you don't want all the other geeks laughing at you and kicking silicon dust in your face in the computer lab, then I suggest you download SlickRun immediately.


Helpful Configuration Hints

  • If you're used to Windows-R to launch programs, you can change the default SlickRun hotkey (Windows-Q) to this more familiar one by setting GrabWinR=1 in the slickRun.ini. You can find this config file in your computer's app data directory (directory locations vary based on the OS), but it won't actually be created until you close SlickRun for the first time.
  • I also like turning the ChaseCursor option on so that launcher window pops up where ever your cursor happens to be after hitting the hotkey combination. This saves me from having to shift my focus to a different part of the screen... Yes, I know that it seems lazy beyond words to recommend a feature just because it saves my eyeballs from having to move a few centimeters.

Notes about Vista

  • SlickRun is not quite as compelling on Vista because of the built in launcher in the Vista start menu. However, I still like using it on Vista because it offers more flexibility in terms of creating more logical words for program names as well as automatically passing in parameters to the program.
  • Setting up magic words by dragging shortcuts from the start menu to the SlickRun prompt doesn't work on Vista for some reason.
Interesting SlickRun Factoid
  • This was actually written in Delphi. I'm going to let you come up with your own Delphi jokes so as to avoid any hate mail from either one of the remaining Delphi programmers out there.

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Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2007 12:35 AM Technical How-To's , Tools | Back to top


Comments on this post: Friends Don't Let Friends Use the Start Menu

# re: Friends Don't Let Friends Use the Start Menu
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If you like SlickRun, you might want to check out Launchy http://www.launchy.net/. I used SlickRun and liked it, but once I tried Launcy, I switched. The thing I like about it is that you don't have to configure every command you want. You just specify which folders and filetypes you want it to index. It will index your start menu by default. I usually add other folders I keep applications in and folders I keep documents in. The negative compared to SlickRun is that you can't create specific commands, but I've found there aren't many I need, and you can always create a batch file and drop it in your start menu folder.
Left by Derek White on Dec 16, 2007 2:15 PM

# re: Friends Don't Let Friends Use the Start Menu
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I concur. Launchy is the bomb!
You can batch out twitter updates and some other pretty sweet items. Tweet!
Left by Robz on Dec 16, 2007 6:18 PM

# re: Friends Don't Let Friends Use the Start Menu
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@Derek & @Rob - Thanks for the advice! I like the idea of not having to configure every command. I'll definitely download it and give it a trial run.
Left by Russell Ball on Dec 16, 2007 7:53 PM

# re: Friends Don't Let Friends Use the Start Menu
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Derek, Launchy actually comes with a plugin that allows to define custom commands. It's slightly less comprehensive than what SlickRun does, but you can run a command, and pass parameters that you can type.
Left by Yaron on Dec 19, 2007 11:04 AM

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