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Is it possible to customize the Windows Run dialog (invoked with Win+R)? For example, is it possible to replace the default Type the name of a program... message with something more interesting?

In particular, I'm interested in doing this on Windows 98 (after seeing this image).

Thanks in advance.

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Why Windows 98?! :| – Aceth Nov 30 '12 at 11:22
@Aceth: I stumbled upon this and thought it'd be cool to implement in real life. – Michael Bikovitsky Nov 30 '12 at 14:45
You can try running a strings utility to see if you can locate which EXE or DLL contains that particular message. Then once you have backups in place, a hex editor or Resource Hacker or similar can be used to modify the file and see if it works, or causes Windows to explode. – Karan Nov 30 '12 at 17:45
@Karan, Thanks! This actually found something on Windows 7 in the winsxs folder. However, I'm not sure changing these files would work: I have the 64-bit version of Win7, and the System32 and SysWOW64 folders both contain versions of Shell32.dll without the string. – Michael Bikovitsky Dec 1 '12 at 5:41
up vote 2 down vote accepted

OK, so I figured it out for Windows 98, and it should also work on Windows XP. Here's the info for future generations.

The dialog box is stored in C:\Windows\System\Shell32.dll, and it is possible to edit it using Resource Hacker. After opening the DLL in the program, go to Dialog\1003\1033, and the rest should be pretty straightforward.

  • All of the captions, strings, etc. are in the main window.
  • To remove the context help button from the title bar, remove DS_CONTEXTHELP from the STYLE line at the top.
  • To add an icon to the DLL, select Action-->Add a new Resource, then choose it from your computer and give it a unique resource name (a number).
  • To replace the default icon already present in the dialog, right-click it, choose Edit control, then change the Caption to the resource name of the new icon.

Important: The OK button won't work if you just delete everything else and let it be. To fix this, set its ID property to anything other than 1.

Important 2: Windows won't let you replace the original Shell32.dll while it's running. Reboot into MS-DOS and copy from there.

Unfortunately, I don't know how to do this on Windows 7, as the Shell32.dll there doesn't contain the dialog box. If anyone has an idea, please share.


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