I’ve been looking at using the AutoPlay functionality in Windows to launch an HTML document each time I insert a USB flash drive. Controlled using a file called autorun.inf, AutoPlay is designed for CDs, but I see no reason why it should not work with other removable media.
There is an excellent overview of the autorun.inf file on the Moon Valley Software website. Although autorun.inf files are easy to edit using a standard text editor such as Notepad, the Moon Valley Autorun.inf Editor is a free download from the Moon Valley Software website, which includes a particularly useful feature to locate and display icon resources within a .DLL.
Using this, I soon had a file which changed the icon and name for the USB flash drive when I inserted it, but I could not get it to automatically launch an HTML document.
After some searching (most notably a TechRepublic post), I discovered that the
open command in autorun.inf only recognises programs. Windows 2000 and later recognise the
shellexecute command to open other file types, for example:
open= is replaced with
shellexecute=, the context menu in Windows Explorer recognises index.html as the default action for the device, but for some reason it does not launch when I insert the USB flash drive into either of the PCs I’m using today. I checked out Microsoft knowledge base articles 155217 and 314855 but found the PCs were correctly configured to AutoPlay.
Searching the ‘net brought up a host of utilities (some free, some not) which are designed to extend the AutoPlay functionality, but by far the most useful utility was autorun.exe (a free download from the Tarma Software Research website, not to be confused with Peter Harrison’s AutoRun from the imagespro.com website). I found that autorun.exe would execute the commands in my autorun.inf file, but still not automatically launch when the USB flash drive was inserted.