Creating an AUTORUN on a Custom USB Flash Drive

Posted on September 6, 2010 by

Utilizing a custom USB flash drive for your marketing is one of the most engaging ways to convey any communications project. Custom USB flash drives are fundamentally different than a traditional CD or DVD. They have a re-usable element, are considered high value items to the user, and have a personal and professional application for data storage. Part marketing item, and part effective office tool, thumb drives are increasingly considered the choice when looking to make an impression when delivering media. We wanted to dedicate a post to something that many of our customers are interested in doing when loading data on the drives. The USB autorun.

Creating an auto run on your custom USB drive is relatively simple, however, it must be done properly, and there are things to take into consideration on the user’s end when doing it. Auto runs do not work on Apple computers. Anything MAC will not accept an auto run file in the root directory of the USB’s folder. Keep this in mind. Secondly, for Windows users, you need to be using Windows XP with Service Pack 2, or a more recent version of the OS such as Vista. Windows 7 has significantly reduced autoplay and autorun features off of USB flash drives for security reasons. They are still enabled for all optical media pieces like CDs and DVDs.  Provided either you or your users are using either of these operating systems, the Autorun/Autoplay feature needs to be enabled on your operating system in order for the USB auto run to work.When creating the master drive or file folder that you’d be duplicating from, you’ll need to do the following.

Understanding the .INF file. What is it?

An INF file (or Setup Information file) is a plain text file used by Microsoft Windows for installation of software and drivers. You can create your own .inf file to dictate what a peripheral should be doing upon mounting into the computer. You can create simple text file using Notepad on a Windows machine. Open notepad, and type:


The open= option specifies the program that should autorun – typically whatever ends in a .exe on the drive’s root directory. This is the executable. Keep in mind, your content must include an executable file for this to work properly. Also, don’t specify any paths. USB drives will show up differently in various machines – as either drive G, or F, or even E. Not specifying the drive path will ensure the drive auto playing properly.

The action= designation describes the action that will be performed. In this case, we’ve instructed to start the application.

The icon= designation tells the drive to use an icon present on the drive. The icon must be in the .ico format. This is entirely optional and is really more of an aesthetic detail.

The label= designation enables you to simply title the drive.

When everything is said and done, it will look like this…

icon=Sample (a .ico image has to be present on the drive to be used as an icon).
action=Start My Application
label= Sample Title (You can name your label here and call it whatever you want).

Save the .inf file and places on your root directory. We recommend also including the .exe on your root directory as well, as indicated in the screen cap we’ve included in the blog post. Questions? Comments? Share with us. Contact us at info AT standardmedia DOT ca or Request A Quote.

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