How To Windows 10

How To Run Programs With Cortana

Cortana is a multi-faceted AI integrated into Windows 10, but one of her lesser known features is about to be your favorite. We will discuss how to run programs with Cortana in this post.

Cortana has made quite the journey from video games, to smartphones, and ultimately landing on our desktops. While the AI has lived up to her name of being a virtual assistant, Cortana’s abilities are not just limited to her reminding you about tasks or telling you the forecast, there is an intricate way that will make her your new favorite assistant by helping you launch apps through the “Hey Cortana” command.

Today, we will see one of Cortana’s hidden talents, this simple tweak will allow you to launch your favorite icons from the comfort of your chair without a single click!

It takes multiple steps to set things up so you can run programs with Cortana. Let’s get cracking, shall we?

STEP 1: 

Enable hidden files / folders to be visible!

Start by pressing Windows Key + S, and search for folder options.

How to open folder options.

Next, navigate to the view tab and make sure the option below is circled.

How to enable hidden files and folders.


Identify the icon you wish to make a shortcut to.

For this guide, we will use the icon lying on my desktop. You start by right-clicking on the icon and click on Properties. Over here, you have to look for the Target box as shown below.

The target box.

Once you have located the Target box. Highlight the whole pathway, and try to exclude the ” ” if possible, otherwise you can do that at the next step.

Keep the above window open for a bit.


Press Windows Key + R and copy / paste the following line, and press OK.

%AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

Once you have it open, you will see a new window open up. Right click anywhere in the empty region, New, and choose Shortcut.

You will see the following box pop-up. Enter the pathway from Step 2 into it without the ” ” present:

How to make the shortcut.

Click on Next and assign your icon a name, which you will speak to “Hey Cortana” I named it “Battle

Giving your shortcut a name.

Now, upon giving your shortcut a name, click Finish.


You will now see the shortcut in the window, right click on it and choose properties.

Opening properties of your shortcut.

Once again, we will be looking at the Target box, but with just a minor change.

at the end of the ” add -applaunch as a command line parameter with a space.

Adding command line parameter to the shortcut.

An example of this properly done is:

“C:\Program Files (x86)\\ Launcher.exe” -applaunch

(Make sure there is a space between the ” and – this is a common mistake made by many people.)

Once you have done so, Click on Apply, followed by OK.


Next, you put your shortcut to the test. Make sure you have Hey Cortana “On”, and say the shortcut name you assigned.

For instance, I would say “Hey Cortana” Followed by “Start Battle“.

If you did everything right, you will see the following animation on your start menu.

This is how you run programs with cortana

If for some reason you fail, Cortana will give you a prompt to repeat or land you on a Bing Search page. If so, trouble shoot and make sure you did all the steps above to the letter, especially STEP 4, which I am sure will be an overlooked mistake in the most cases.

As proof of concept, here is another screenshot of me replicating this tweak on iTunes.

Example of how to launch programs with Cortana. Opening iTunes.

This tweak is easily applicable to ANYTHING.

If you wish to do this with programs or apps that don’t have desktop shortcuts, navigate to the program of your choice in its destination or installed folder, right click on it and create a shortcut to desktop. As shown below.

How to navigate to directories of your favorite apps

How to make shortcuts to desktop.

As you can see, this works with any and every app that you wish as long as you know its name and use windows search.

For many power users like myself, this is a very handy tweak and especially useful if you are feeling lazy after a hard days work.

While this feature of Cortana should be more well known, we are glad that such a useful tweak exists and will probably give more users reason to start using Cortana actively.

While this feature was known to be a part of Cortana, many people didn’t know how to activate it.

If you found this to be helpful, do let us know in the comments section! We always love hearing from our readers.

  • pratt

    i followed the exact same procedure for chrome, but it aint working

  • Joe H

    It worked for me. Thanks

  • Dan Lester

    This does not work at all with any program, Cortana is just stupid, And insists on using bing as a smoke screen.

  • Daniel Borg

    is there a way to open up steam witht he same voice command if it is located on another hardrive

  • DJYahtzee

    Didn’t work for me. Tried several shortcuts and all I got was bing searches. Disappointing.