I have set up my gaming PC so that when I log into a certain user account, a script kills explorer.exe and opens Steam in Big Picture mode, then it waits until the process ends, and logs me out. This way, with just a click on PC startup, I can launch Steam and then use my gamepad. Basically like a super-charged gaming console!

All works great, except for modifying the volume. My keyboard has three volume buttons (Plus, minus, mute) which work perfectly in a normal session where explorer.exe is running, but totally refuse to respond while Windows Explorer is terminated. This is annoying, because if I'd left for some reason the volume turned down in my normal desktop session, I'll have to open Task Manager, run explorer.exe, edit volume, terminate it. How can I enable volume editing via keyboard keys when explorer.exe is terminated?

Also just keeping Windows Explorer running is not an option as:

  • it eats resources

  • it is annoying if I accidentally press the Start button

  • some games don't work well when it is open.

  • Do the combination of Ctrl or shift with arrow keys work?
    – Biswapriyo
    Jun 4, 2017 at 17:28
  • I haven't tried this, but perhaps you can write an AHK script to adjust the volume, and add it to your script to automatically​ open alongside Steam
    – wysiwyg
    Jun 4, 2017 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


If I'd left for some reason the volume turned down in my normal desktop session ...

nircmd from nirsoft can be used to control the volume, and can be called from your batch script to set the volume you need before starting steam.

The command you need to run is:

 nircmd setvolume [device] [left-volume] [right-volume]

Set the volume level of your sound device. The [device] parameter represents the device identifier. In most cases, you should use '0' value for this parameter. Under Windows Vista, you should specify 0 for default playback device or 1 for default recording device.

The [left-volume] and [right-volume] parameters should contain a value between 0 (silence) and 65535 (full volume) that represents the volume level for left and right channels.


setvolume 0 0 0
setvolume 0 32768 32768
setvolume 0 0xffff 0 

Source setvolume


I am not affiliated with nirsoft in any way, I am just an end user of their software.

  • Already had the software, didn't know of this useful feature. Thanks a lot!
    – Manchineel
    Jun 4, 2017 at 18:45

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