Despite Windows 2000's graphical shell, there are many administrators who are more comfortable with a command line. They just like to bang a few keys to get their favorite programs to come up rather than navigate through a nest of menus and submenus.
However, most programs don't automatically add their executable path to the PATH: environment variable -- and the PATH: variable tops out at 1,023 characters in length. This length can be modified by a registry edit, but command-line sessions still truncate the variable to 1,023 characters. (This is not the total space devoted to environment variables, just the maximum size of any given variable.)
Fortunately there is a more sophisticated way to handle how Windows looks for executables. Open the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths and create a new key (i.e. subfolder). The name of the new key can be anything you wish and is simply used to describe the app being pointed to in it. Within this new key will be a pre-created REG_SZ value with the name (Default). Edit its value to be the full path and filename to the executable you want to add. This change takes effect immediately.
Many programs, when installed, take advantage of this technique to add their executables and their directories to this list, so you may see examples from other installed apps in App Paths.
Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter.
This was first published in January 2003