Starting a group of programs from a DOS batch file

I use my computer for a variety of purposes – for example writing web content, programming, or word processing.

For each of these activities I need a different set of programs to be loaded. To take one example when I’m writing or modifying web pages I need:

  1. NoteTab Pro which I use to edit the HTML files’
  2. WS_FTP Pro for uploading the files’
  3. Explorer for seeing the files – after loading it I have to manually navigate to f:\work\website\

To load each of these programs I have to click on the Start button, find the icon, and click on it. For Explorer I’d actually use the Windows Key + E shortcut but then I’d still have to navigate to the correct folder manually.

This in total probably takes me 20-30 seconds each time I do it. On an average day I might do this once – I don’t edit web pages everyday but then on some days I’ll restart the computer a few times due to patches or installing new applications.

This may not sound a lot but over a year it could be between two and three hours spent just opening these three programs! What a waste of time.

I could add the programs I need to the startup folder. However this is not a good enough solution as I need a completely different set of applications to be loaded depending on what I will be working on.

On top of all the wasted time there is also the annoyance of having to repeat this same series of actions on a daily basis. It does become quite tedious. The web editing task is a simple example – I only need three programs open. If I were working on some serious coding I may well need five applications to be opened before I’m ready to go.

There is a simple way to remove this tedium. Create a batch file that opens all the application that you need. Put it on the path and then all you have to do is type Windows Key + R (to open the Run dialog), type in the batch file name and hit enter. Then all the programs open in quick succession.

Here is my batch file for setting up my web development environment.

start "" /max "d:\apps\NoteTabPro\NotePro.exe"
start "" /max "d:\apps\WS_FTP Pro\ftp95pro.exe"
explorer /e,f:\work\website

I have enclosed the executable paths in speech marks in case the paths have spaces in them – as with the FTP tool. The "" right after the ‘start’ command would normally set a title. I just leave it blank as we are opening Windows applications rather than a DOS session. The /max opens the applications maximised.

The explorer line opens Windows Explorer and sets the open directory to be the one where I keep my website files.

I call this batch file ‘websetup.bat‘. If you want to put a batch file such as this on the path the easiest place is probably in c:\windows (or equivalent).

Alternatively you may prefer to create a new directory especially for these scripts and then add the location of this directory to your path. Following ‘Control Panel -> System -> Advanced -> Environment Variables’ will get you to the screen where you can add your script directory to your path.

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