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"The directory name is invalid" error message when you start Cmd.exe or Notepad.exe by using the Run as feature in Windows

Support for Windows XP has ended

Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

Support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 14, 2015

Microsoft ended support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

SYMPTOMS
When you are logged on as one user (such as Administrator), and you try to run a program as a different user, you may experience the following symptoms. If you try to run the Command Prompt program or the Notepad program) as a different user by using the Run as feature, you may receive one of the following error messages:
C:\Windows\system32\cmd.exe The directory name is invalid.

C:\Windows\system32\Notepad.exe The directory name is invalid.
To use the Run as feature, you click The following user in the Run as dialog box, type a user name in the User name box, and then type a password in Password box.
CAUSE
In Microsoft Windows XP and in Windows Server 2003, you cannot use the Run as feature to access the logged-on user's mapped home drive. The command prompt program or Notepad logs an error that states that the %HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH% path is not valid for the session. This scenario occurs if the Start in property is set to %HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH% on the Shortcut tab of the Command Prompt Properties dialog box or of the Notepad Properties dialog box. You receive the error message that is described in the "Symptoms" section of this article.

This problem may also occur if you type the name of the currently logged-on user in the User name box. Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 treat the two instances of the same user name as two different local users.
RESOLUTION
To resolve this problem, change the Start in value in the Command Prompt Properties dialog box or in the Notepad Properties dialog box. To do so, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, and then point to Accessories.
  2. Right-click Command Prompt or Notepad, and then click Properties.
  3. In the Start in box, change the value from %HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH% to a system-wide value such as %WINDIR%.
  4. Click OK.
Properties

Article ID: 832434 - Last Review: 03/10/2004 20:54:06 - Revision: 1.3

Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86), Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Professional

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