Setting the Default Directory for Windows Applications

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Windows applications normally start in the directory in which the program files are located. You may want to have a Windows application start in a different directory when running under Microsoft Windows version 3.0. To have a Windows application start up in a different directory, do the following:

  1. Verify that the application's directory is listed in the DOS path statement.
  2. Verify that an icon exists for this application and that clicking the icon runs the application.
  3. Highlight the icon and from the Program Manager File menu, choose Properties.
  4. Type the path of the new default directory in the command line of the Program Item Properties dialog box. For example, type C:\XLDATA\EXCEL.EXE to have Excel start in the XLDATA directory.
  5. At this point, you will get the error message The specified path is invalid." Click OK to bypass this message.


The Program Manager will search for the executable file in the directory specified in the Command Line entry of the Program Item Properties dialog box. If the file is not found in that directory, the Program Manager will search the DOS path, leaving the specified directory as the default.

There are two problems with this technique. First, when the Command Line is originally entered in the Program Item Properties dialog box, the error message
The specified path is invalid
will appear. This indicates that Windows cannot find the executable file in the path specified. This does not prohibit Windows from accepting the entry, and Windows will add the program item to the group once OK is chosen.

The second drawback is that Windows will use the default application program item icon instead of the program's actual icon when displaying the program item in its group within the Program Manager. To correct this behavior, do the following:

  1. Select the icon in Program Manager.
  2. From the File menu, choose Properties.
  3. Select Change Icon.
  4. Type the path to the executable file and press the ENTER key.
Pages 89-91 of the "Microsoft Windows User's Guide" for Windows version 3.0 has more information about using Windows applications with the Program Manager.

You may also have non-Windows applications start in different directories. The best method of doing this is to specify the directory you want the application to start in at the Start-Up Directory box within the PIF file for that application.


For more information on this subject, refer to Page 451 of the "Microsoft Windows User's Guide."


Article ID: 65267 - Last Review: February 27, 2014 - Revision: 3.0
  • Microsoft Windows 3.0 Standard Edition
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