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I love the "WinKey + type "note" + enter" workflow of starting programs like notepad. However, I have a huge annoyance that I can't get over and has annoyed me since day 1. When I already have an instance of notepad open, this won't create a new instance. It will instead bring the instance I already have open to the front of the screen. I have never had so many programs open that I needed to be able to search across the open ones to bring the one I'm interested in to the top. The only way I've found to work around this is to right click on the task bar item for the program, and click the program name from there, which launches a new instance of the program

So, how can I disable this "feature" and make it so when I press "enter" from the search screen, it always creates a new instance of the program?

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hmmmm. in Win7 (sorry I don't win8) its app defined. for instance I can open 4 new word windows by Win + winword 4 times. but Notepad++ which is designed to only display one window with multiple tabs will show the window already open. –  Frank Thomas Jun 18 at 19:49
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That is odd. I also don't own Windows 8. In Windows 7 and all previous versions this will always run notepad.exe, meaning unless applications specifically disallow multiple instance (not the case for Notepad), a new instance will start. –  Jason C Jun 19 at 1:10
    
Possible duplicate of superuser.com/questions/631967/… (although the answer there was not accepted, it describes a possible way to change the behavior, but may not work in 8.1 according to comments). –  Jason C Jun 19 at 1:11
    
Also possible duplicate of superuser.com/questions/616554/… (no accepted answer; but same answer as shift+enter below). –  Jason C Jun 19 at 1:13
    

2 Answers 2

The "easy" way is to hit Shift + Enter.

Another way is to permanently do this for specific applications. In the case of Notepad:

  1. Right-click on the tile.
  2. Click open file location.
  3. Right-click on the shortcut.
  4. Change the target to:

    %windir%\system32\cmd.exe /c start %windir%\system32\notepad.exe
    

    In general you could do this to any shortcut (including whatever one pops up when you type in the search box), and you do it by prepending cmd.exe /c start to the usual target path.

For Windows 8 there is a registry tweak (source):

  1. Open the registry editor.
  2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ImmersiveShell
  3. Right-click in right pane and create a new value named DesktopAppsAlwaysLaunchNewInstance with the type DWORD (skip this step if it already exists).
  4. Set its value to 1.
  5. Log off then log back on.

This tweak no longer works in 8.1. In 8.1 there is a crazy hack (source):

  1. Install Debugging tools for Windows (free download from MSDN)
  2. Create a directory on your computer to store symbols in ([author uses] c:\localsymbols)
  3. Create a shortcut on your desktop to run this (replace the two paths to point wherever you need):

    [path_to_debugging_tools]\ntsd.exe -pn explorer.exe -pv -y SRV*[path_to_local_symbols]*http://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols -c "eb Windows_UI_Search!SearchUI::Data::SwitchToApp b8 00 00 00 00 c3; q"
    
  4. Double click the shortcut ... [ ... and it should be working now.]

Why Microsoft chose to do this when every other operating system in existence and past version of Windows does the opposite is a bit beyond me. At least they made shift + enter functional, but apparently they decided that the majority of users are incapable of keeping track of their open windows or using the task bar (and UI decisions like that in major OSes are precisely why a user would end up like that) and that "start notepad" doesn't mean start notepad. And thus, they continue to doom typing commands to the realm of the "advanced" user.

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why did they remove the registry tweak!? wtf –  Earlz Jun 20 at 17:28
    
@Earlz I don't know but they should call the next version Windows FP, for "face palm". –  Jason C Jun 20 at 17:41

Hold Shift when you press Enter.

This won't work with every application, but it will with Notepad or any other application that can have multiple instances.

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Windows 8 makes you hold shift for this? Yet another reason I'm glad I haven't switched from 7 yet... (Edit: There's a registry tweak that might disable this behavior described at superuser.com/questions/631967/… - not sure if it works). –  Jason C Jun 19 at 1:10

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