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From a command prompt, some programs can launch by typing the name of the exe file, and some do not (not found), However the programs not found can be run with the start command. For example, see this terminal session:


'wordpad' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file.

>start wordpad


So what does start exactly do

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may have to do with the file path of wordpad "C:\Program Files\Windows NT\Accessories" if you navigate to the accessories folder in cmd prompt, then use the wordpad command it works. – Moab Nov 12 '12 at 15:33
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The run command in the start menu does accept wordpad to start Wordpad. This has to do with something called APP_PATHS introduced in Windows 95 (see Raymond Chen's blogpost The start command does search APP_PATHS.

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additionally, wordpad isnt really really called wordpad, its called write. drop to a cmd and just write, it will launch wordpad. – BroScience Nov 12 '12 at 15:37
Probably the same as pbrush -> mspaint and the same sorcery involved. – Roald van Doorn Nov 12 '12 at 15:38
BroScience, it's wordpad.exe. write.exe is just a stub launching the other one. – Joey Nov 12 '12 at 15:54
@Joey I think you miss the @ for ping ;) – avirk Nov 12 '12 at 16:10
avirk, no, it's intentional ;-). Since I don't see any technical need for the @ I will leave it out until SE will notify in a sane way. IRC works well without needing @s and other nonsense, for example :P – Joey Nov 12 '12 at 16:13

By default if you execute cmd inside of cmd, the console window will be inherited, waiting for the created process to end.

Using start (that is a cmd integrated command, not an executable) you can create a process in a new console instance, being able to modify process creation options and optionally wait on the created process to end.

See also

start /?

and on TechNet:

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