SlickRun has to be my all time favourite "helper" utility. It hangs around in the background and, when required, responds to a set of "magic words" that might do things like start Visual Studio, show the Internet Options dialogue or lookup something on Amazon for me. I can define my own magic words, export them and of course import magic words created by others. SlickRun is cool. And, as far as I can tell, it's written by the same chap who wrote one of my other all time favourite tools, Fiddler. Eric Lawrence works for Microsoft as a PM on the IE team and he sure can write a nice utility...

I've found that since I moved to Vista, there's less need for me to run SlickRun but I do miss the ability to create a magic word for, say, the Internet applet in control panel. I'm forever enabling disabling the proxy server for work / home (yes, I know I can auto-detect but I like to avoid that extra delay and just do it manually). So I decided to install the latest version of SlickRun and with my old friend back, life would be complete once again.

However, when I go a searchin' for SlickRun, I soon discover there's a new kid in town. And this kid's aiming to knock my old friend off his pedestal. Start++ is written by another Microsoft guy - Brandon Paddock - and he's taken things one step further. He's just gone and integrated "magic words" into the Vista start menu. So now I just type "inet" into the Vista start menu and my Internet Properties open on the Connection tab!

All I need to do now is think of a comprehensive list of "startlets" as they're called in the world of Start++. When SlickRun 4 is out I'll no doubt re-visit my old friend to see how he is (SlickRun's being completely re-written in C# as I speak). The feature list looks pretty compelling...

In the meantime, check out Start++ (Vista only) and / or SlickRun.

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