Launching Other Applications

Shyam Pillai, is an "MVP" and advisor in the PowerPoint newsgroup (news://  He and his friend Chirag Dalal have developed a tiny and elegant little executable that will allow you to easily use Action Settings for multiple functions that were previously more complicated or limited for a presentation distributed via autorun CD.  Launch is freeware and may be freely distributed.

You can download it now:  Launch Zip File (15KB).  You will need to "unzip" it.  Save it somewhere safe, because you are likely to find it to be a useful tool for your current and future PowerPoint presentations designed for an autorun CD.  Included in the zip file is a Readme file and a demo presentation.  Please review the Readme file.  You will also need to copy and paste Launch.exe to your \staging\present folder when creating an autorun CD.  Don't overlook this requirement. 

Launch.exe Syntax:

Launch.exe <Verb> <Command> <Parameters>

The verbs are:

Verb Description
Explore Explores the folder specified by <Command>.
Find Initiates a search starting from the folder specified in <Command>.
Open Opens the file specified by the <Command>.
The file can be an executable file, a document file, or a folder.
Print Prints the document file specified by <Command>.
If <Command> is not a document file, the function will fail.


Filenames/Folders must be in quotes if they are Long File Names (LFN's), e.g., containing special characters such as spaces, or exceeding 8 characters.  The "current folder" below refers to the folder where your presentation resides.  On an autorun CD, the current folder will be (CD drive letter):\present.

Filenames can be provided in several ways:

You can specify just the filename and the file extension if the file exists in the current folder.  For example:

Launch.exe open mydoc.doc
Launch.exe print "This is a LFN.doc" - - LFN requiring quotes

2. You can provide a fully qualified filename/path. For example:

Launch.exe open C:\Windows\YourFile.doc
Launch.exe open "C:\My documents\Adobe\PDF Files\MyFile.pdf"

3. You can use a reference, relative to the current folder. For example:

If the current folder is D:\present
Launch.exe open Windows\MyFile.pdf - - refers to D:\present\Windows\MyFile.pdf

If the current location is D:\present\PPTFiles:
Launch.exe open "My First Pres\MyFile.pdf" - - refers to D:\present\PPTFiles\My First Pres\MyFile.pdf

Parameters (Optional):

<Parameters> is used to provide additional parameters to the program defined in the <Command> statement. 

How to use Launch.exe in PowerPoint

In PowerPoint, you will find Launch.exe very useful. 

  • Highlight the text or button/object that you want to activate with a link.

  • Right click on the "bounding box" and in the "pop-up" menu select "Action Settings".

  • In the next window, click on the "radio button" next to "Run Program" and enter your full Launch.exe command line in the box.

  • Click "Okay", save your presentation, and test it to ensure that you entered the syntax correctly.  When creating an autorun CD, Launch.exe must be included in the \present folder.  Then test the CD on your system, but don't forget to test on as many other systems as possible.

Please Note:  Your users will receive a "Macro/Virus" warning message when they click on the first instance of a link to Launch.exe in your presentation and they will be asked if they want to enable or disable macros.  This cannot be avoided and is part of Office's security protection features.   You want them to enable macros, otherwise the link will not work.  I recommend that you insert a small printed note about this when you mail the CD, or you can insert an explanatory slide at the beginning of the presentation.  It can say something like this:

"At some point when playing this presentation, you may receive a message box asking you whether you want to "Enable" or "Disable" macros.  Please be assured that there are no viruses on this CD and the macros included have been thoroughly tested and proven to be virus free.  Click "Enable Macros" and the presentation will play without further interruption.  This warning message is provided automatically by Microsoft in case you do not trust the developer of the presentation.  Be assured that you can trust all of the files included in this presentation.  My E-Mail address is (your address) so feel free to write to me if you have any concerns."



All contents Copyrighted by Sonia Coleman 1998 - 2003