Download the if you want
to test the basic ShellRun features.
There is no way to evaluate the extra features of the retail version before purchasing
ShellRun is used to AutoRun a CD, DVD or USB-stick, ie open a file automatically when the CD is inserted
into a Windows computer. Most people use ShellRun to display a web page
when a CD/DVD/USB is inserted.
explains why ShellRun is useful, and cautions that AutoRun may have been disabled so you should
always provide instructions for viewing your CD manually.
(Also see the article.)
This page contains the basic instructions for use of the retail version of ShellRun,
along with details of how to ,
use the "" feature
Please consult the following pages for full configuration details:
- and download
the retail development kit. Run this file to install ShellRun.
- Copy the runtime file
ShellRun.exe into your CD image root directory
from your installation directory, eg
- Write a plain text
AUTORUN.INF file ()
and put it in your CD image root directory.
- Write a plain text
ShRun.INF file ()
and add your desired parameters to configure ShellRun.
Put it in your CD image root directory.
- Burn a CD and try it out.
- You can also try it first more easily on a USB-memory-stick, but make sure you test on CD/DVD as well.
What ShellRun does
If all goes well, Windows will run ShellRun when your CD is inserted,
possibly after you have clicked in the AutoPlay dialog.
By default, ShellRun will display a popup window and ask Windows to show your requested file.
The popup window disappears after 15 seconds.
The popup window is shown in the top left hand corner of the screen;
see the example on the right.
If the user clicks on the Info text, their default browser will be started
to show the PHD Computer Consultants Ltd web site.
If you want to remove or customise the popup window (or use a splash screen instead)
then see the page.
If you want to display more than one file when your CD is inserted,
What can go wrong?
- If ShellRun does not start, these are possible explanations:
- You forgot to put
in the root directory of your CD.
ShRun.INF format is incorrect - check below.
- If ShellRun cannot find the file you requested, then it changes the bottom text
line, adds an Exit button and stays on screen permanently:
Check that the file is actually on the CD.
Note that your system may be set up to hide file extensions, so a file that appears to be called
test.htm may actually be called
- If there is no suitable viewer for the file you requested, then ShellRun changes
the bottom text line, eg as follows for a PDF file.
Consult the page for
instructions on how to handle this situation better.
- The filename and other file parameters in the
can refer to other folders. Use relative paths and a backslash delimiter, eg:
Writing an AUTORUN.INF file
If Windows finds a plain text file called
AUTORUN.INF in the root directory
of a CD, then it follows the instructions in this file to run a program.
See the page for full details
of the available commands for
If you want you can just use
AUTORUN.INF to run ShellRun,
as described in the
instructions. The only change is that filenames with spaces are supported
by putting it in double quotes, eg:
However we recommend that you only use a basic
open=ShellRun.exe "Sales Report.doc" Showing latest sales report...
and do all your configuration in the separate
plain text file. Put this in your
You can add more options on other lines in the AUTORUN.INF file,
eg to set the icon for the CD, DVD or USB-stick
- more details
Writing an ShRun.INF ShellRun Configuration file
ShellRun picks up configuration parameters from a plain text file
ShRun.INF in the same directory as ShellRun.
For normal usage, this means putting
in the root directory of your CD.
AUTORUN.INF, use Windows Notepad to edit
ShRun.INF file should contain one
[Info] section header line.
Each subsequent line specifies one parameter.
This example was used to display the popup window
shown on the right:
Here's a brief description of each parameter used above:
message=-max CD loading, please wait...
WebMsg=Showing XYZ corp web site...
InfoFace=Comic Sans MS
||Tells Windows to display file index.html using the default browser
||The Msg text is set to CD loading, please wait....
The browser is told to maximise its window
||The Info text is set to XYZ Corporation
||If the user clicks on the Info text, ShellRun displays http://www.phdcc.com/shellrun
in the default browser
||If the user clicks on the Info text, ShellRun displays
Showing XYZ corp web site... as the Msg text.
||The Msg colour is set to Red
||The text font is set to Comic Sans MS
Note carefully that the message line will be replaced with an error message
if ShellRun runs into any problems, .
You can also use ShellRun to run a program (instead of opening a file).
Simply put the name of the program you want to run in the filename parameter, eg:
If you want to provide parameters to the program (ie as part of the command line) then put these in the
param parameter, eg:
Special filename parameters - IE kiosk mode
You can use the SpecialParam parameter to provide special handling
of the filename. SpecialParam must have an executable
filename, a comma, then a command line.
The following example shows how to run Internet Explorer in kiosk mode (but only if IE is the default browser).
The filename is set to the web page on CD.
If SpecialParam has been used,
ShellRun looks up the name of the program
that handles web pages. For Internet Explorer, the program name will end in
If the executable filename matches that specified in SpecialParam,
then the executable is run with specified parameters.
In this case, Internet Explorer is run with the following as its command line, if the CD is on the D drive:
The command line in SpecialParam has variable names replaced as follows:
%f is replaced with filename
%F is replaced with the full path to filename.
Playing audio on Enhanced CDs
The Enhanced CD format is used to create CDs containing music audio and computer data -
If the data on the CD contains an
AUTORUN.INF file then Windows will follow
the instructions in there rather than simply play the music audio. You can tell ShellRun
to play the audio by using this special filename
For example, to show a web page and start the music put this in your
(This example uses the
feature, ie the filename1 parameter specifies
a second file to show.)
Windows Media Player, Real Player and MusicMatch Jukebox work as described above. However WinAmp Lite 5.1 does not play
the music audio - instead it plays any music file it can find in the computer data (I think).
The special filename is in fact a general feature, described fully as follows:
assoc is the Windows file association name,
verb is the optional action verb (default:
file is optional file parameter
(defaults to the ShellRun directory, eg the CD drive).
ShellRun currently only runs the relevant command - it does not use DDE to
give full instructions to the application.
Do not re-show option
ShellRun can give your users the option of not AutoRunning the CD the next time it is inserted.
A configurable checkbox labelled "Do not show again" appears in the ShellRun
popup window. If the user
checks this box then ShellRun does not show any files the next time the CD
is inserted. If the user holds down the Ctrl key while inserting the CD,
then ShellRun ignores this setting and always shows its file(s).
This is how it works.
The CD does in fact always AutoRun, ie ShellRun is indeed run every time the CD
is inserted. ShellRun stores the user's "Do not show again" selection
in the registry. If the user has opted not to show again, then ShellRun stops
straight away without showing any files or windows etc.
ShellRun uses a registry folder to store the "Do not show again" selection:
You must provide the name of a key within this folder to uniquely identify your
CD. If you specify "Mycorp Europe sales" then this key is used:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\PHD\ShellRunCDs\Mycorp Europe sales
ShellRun stores an integer (REG_DWORD). If this value is non-zero then
the user has opted not to show files again.
To enable this feature, add an
DoNotRepeatId parameter that specifies
your CD identifier. You can also optionally set
DoNotRepeatText to change the
"Do not show again" text and
DoNotRepeatColor to set the text colour (default:blue).
You will need to give your users a chance to make a "Do not show again" selection.
By default the ShellRun popup window appears for only 15 seconds and may be hidden
by the displayed files. Use the ShowTime parameter
to increase the time that the ShellRun popup is shown, or set it to
to display the popup permanently.
Set the ShowOptions parameter to
if you want the ShellRun popup window to appear in front of all other windows
to ensure that the user sees the "Do not show again" option.
If Message is set to
DoNotRepeatId=Mycorp Europe sales
DoNotRepeatText=Do not AutoRun CD
-nomsg then the popup window is never shown.
If this happens, then the registry key can never be set by ShellRun. However you may set the registry key with
another program to stop ShellRun running again.
Windows 7, Vista and XP SP2+ Internet Explorer Active Content Enabling
This option works by removing your CD users' security restrictions temporarily.
Please inform them that this is happening.
Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, Windows 7 (and equivalent) by default restricts "active content" in web pages in Internet Explorer
More info on XP SP2.
You can use ShellRun to enable active content on CDs or DVDs using the
ActiveCD parameter. This has two options
cd corresponds to the "Allow active content from CDs to run on My Computer" option in Tools+Internet Options+Advanced.
all corresponds to the "Allow active content to run in files on My Computer" option and the
It might seem that
cd is all that is required to run active content from CD.
However when just this option is used,
the user still receives warnings and sees the Information Bar - although active content is indeed enabled.
To remove all warnings, use the
ShellRun only implements the ActiveCD option if it is running from a CD or DVD drive.
If the required option is already set, ShellRun does nothing more. However, if a setting change is required, then ShellRun
continues to run in the background until the CD is ejected, the system is shut down or the user logs off; at this point
ShellRun restores the setting to its original value.
This feature works for both XP Administrator and Limited users.
The code is run on all Windows platforms so as to ensure forward compatibility.
This option only works if ShellRun runs, ie when a CD is AutoRun. Some users may have AutoRun turned off,
so they will potentially not be able to see the CD active content unless they enable it manually.
Some organisations have 'group policies' for all their computers. These policies may stop these settings being changed,
or change them back at a later stage.
Very occasionally, Windows may prompt for the CD to be re-inserted after you eject the CD.
This happens because the ShellRun executable lives on the CD; if it has been removed from working memory then Windows
will need to reload it so that it can run (to process the CD eject request). A possible future solution is for ShellRun
to copy itself to a temporary location on disk and run from there.
As stated above, this option lowers a user's security level while the CD is run.
ShellRun covers all normal situations to restore the user's security level; however in exceptional circumstances,
eg if ShellRun is terminated or the computer loses power, then the security level may remain lowered.
Note that by default, Windows Vista will ask the user whether to AutoPlay (ie run) a CD's AutoRun program,
as seen in this dialog: