How to Create a Single Shortcut That Launches Multiple Programs

If you're like me, you tend to start certain programs right when you log on to your Windows-based computer or when you do certain tasks.

Starting certain commonly used programs at startup is very easy. Just put the application's shortcut in the Windows Start menu's Startup folder.

It's a little trickier to create a shortcut that launches several programs, but not by much. To do so, first create a new text file using a text editor like Notepad. (I encourage you to look into a better text editor, though, such as Notepad++, Notepad2, etc.) Then in the text file you'll want to enter the paths to the apps you want to start. A quick way to do this is to right-click on the shortcut to the app, select "Properties," then the "Shortcut" tab, and and then copy the path shown in the Target box.

Next, copy that path into your text file and then place start "" in front of the path. For example, say you use Mozilla Firefox as your browser and that you are using the installed version of it. The path to the executable would be "%PROGRAMFILES%\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe." A couple of things to explain quickly here. First, since the path contains a space between "Mozilla" and "Firefox," double quotation marks had to be placed around the entire path for Windows to recognize the full path. Second, %PROGRAMFILES% is an environmental variable that you can use instead of typing out "C:\Program Files" -- the advantage of using an environmental variable in place of the path is that it gives your code here a little flexibility if it is used on a computer where Program Files is on a different drive letter. (See this terrific primer on Environmental Variables; it is based on XP but gives a good intro to the concept nevertheless.)

So, to complete the example, the first entry in the text file would look like:

start "" "%PROGRAMFILES%\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe"

You could add several additional program paths to the text file, one per line, using this same format.  When pointing to a web browser, you can even have the shortcut open directly to a favorite site by appending it to the code as shown below:

start "" "%PROGRAMFILES%\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" ""

Once done adding paths, save the file with a .bat extension. You can then in turn create a shortcut to your newly created supershortcut batch file and even give it a customized icon by right-clicking on the batch file shortcut's properties and then clicking on the "Change Icon..." button and using an icon located in shell32.dll or in alternatve collection of icons, if you have one.

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