Getting started with cmd
Opening a Command Prompt
The command prompt comes pre-installed on all Windows NT, Windows CE, OS/2 and eComStation operating systems, and exists as
cmd.exe, typically located in
On Windows 7 the fastest ways to open the command prompt are:
It can also be opened by navigating to the executable and double-clicking on it.
In some cases you might need to run
cmd with elevated permissions, in this case right click and select “Run as administrator”. This can also be achieved by pressing Control+ Shift+Enter instead of Enter.
Commands in CMD
The available commands will be displayed, including a brief description, in tabular format.
In Windows 10 the following commands are listed:
|ASSOC||Displays or modifies file extension associations.|
|ATTRIB||Displays or changes file attributes.|
|BREAK||Sets or clears extended CTRL+C checking.|
|BCDEDIT||Sets properties in boot database to control boot loading.|
|CACLS||Displays or modifies access control lists (ACLs) of files.|
|CALL||Calls one batch program from another.|
|CD||Displays the name of or changes the current directory.|
|CHCP||Displays or sets the active code page number.|
|CHDIR||Displays the name of or changes the current directory.|
|CHKDSK||Checks a disk and displays a status report.|
|CHKNTFS||Displays or modifies the checking of disk at boot time.|
|CLS||Clears the screen.|
|CMD||Starts a new instance of the Windows command interpreter.|
|COLOR||Sets the default console foreground and background colors.|
|COMP||Compares the contents of two files or sets of files.|
|COMPACT||Displays or alters the compression of files on NTFS partitions.|
|CONVERT||Converts FAT volumes to NTFS. You cannot convert the|
|COPY||Copies one or more files to another location.|
|DATE||Displays or sets the date.|
|DEL||Deletes one or more files.|
|DIR||Displays a list of files and subdirectories in a directory.|
|DISKPART||Displays or configures Disk Partition properties.|
|DOSKEY||Edits command lines, recalls Windows commands, and|
|DRIVERQUERY||Displays current device driver status and properties.|
|ECHO||Displays messages, or turns command echoing on or off.|
|ENDLOCAL||Ends localization of environment changes in a batch file.|
|ERASE||Deletes one or more files.|
|EXIT||Quits the CMD.EXE program (command interpreter).|
|FC||Compares two files or sets of files, and displays the|
|differences between them.|
|FIND||Searches for a text string in a file or files.|
|FINDSTR||Searches for strings in files.|
|FOR||Runs a specified command for each file in a set of files.|
|FORMAT||Formats a disk for use with Windows.|
|FSUTIL||Displays or configures the file system properties.|
|FTYPE||Displays or modifies file types used in file extension|
|GOTO||Directs the Windows command interpreter to a labeled line in|
|a batch program.|
|GPRESULT||Displays Group Policy information for machine or user.|
|GRAFTABL||Enables Windows to display an extended character set in|
|HELP||Provides Help information for Windows commands.|
|ICACLS||Display, modify, backup, or restore ACLs for files and|
|IF||Performs conditional processing in batch programs.|
|LABEL||Creates, changes, or deletes the volume label of a disk.|
|MD||Creates a directory.|
|MKDIR||Creates a directory.|
|MKLINK||Creates Symbolic Links and Hard Links|
|MODE||Configures a system device.|
|MORE||Displays output one screen at a time.|
|MOVE||Moves one or more files from one directory to another|
|OPENFILES||Displays files opened by remote users for a file share.|
|PATH||Displays or sets a search path for executable files.|
|PAUSE||Suspends processing of a batch file and displays a message.|
|POPD||Restores the previous value of the current directory saved by|
|Prints a text file.|
|PROMPT||Changes the Windows command prompt.|
|PUSHD||Saves the current directory then changes it.|
|RD||Removes a directory.|
|RECOVER||Recovers readable information from a bad or defective disk.|
|REM||Records comments (remarks) in batch files or CONFIG.SYS.|
|REN||Renames a file or files.|
|RENAME||Renames a file or files.|
|RMDIR||Removes a directory.|
|ROBOCOPY||Advanced utility to copy files and directory trees|
|SET||Displays, sets, or removes Windows environment variables.|
|SETLOCAL||Begins localization of environment changes in a batch file.|
|SC||Displays or configures services (background processes).|
|SCHTASKS||Schedules commands and programs to run on a computer.|
|SHIFT||Shifts the position of replaceable parameters in batch files.|
|SHUTDOWN||Allows proper local or remote shutdown of machine.|
|START||Starts a separate window to run a specified program or command.|
|SUBST||Associates a path with a drive letter.|
|SYSTEMINFO||Displays machine specific properties and configuration.|
|TASKLIST||Displays all currently running tasks including services.|
|TASKKILL||Kill or stop a running process or application.|
|TIME||Displays or sets the system time.|
|TITLE||Sets the window title for a CMD.EXE session.|
|TREE||Graphically displays the directory structure of a drive or|
|TYPE||Displays the contents of a text file.|
|VER||Displays the Windows version.|
|VERIFY||Tells Windows whether to verify that your files are written|
|correctly to a disk.|
|VOL||Displays a disk volume label and serial number.|
|XCOPY||Copies files and directory trees.|
|WMIC||Displays WMI information inside interactive command shell.|
To get more insight about a specific command use the
/? option, e.g. the
tree command gives:
tree /? Graphically displays the folder structure of a drive or path. TREE [drive:][path] [/F] [/A] /F Display the names of the files in each folder. /A Use ASCII instead of extended characters.
Navigating in cmd
One of the most common things you’ll need to do in the command prompt is navigate your file system. To do this, we’ll utilize the
dir keywords. Start by opening up a command prompt using one of the methods mentioned [here](https://www.wikiod.com/cmd/getting-started-with-cmd#Opening a Command Prompt). You most likely see something similar to what’s below, where
UserName is your user.
Regardless of where in your file structure you are, if your system is like most, we can start with this command:
This will change your current directory to the
C:\ drive. Notice how the screen now looks like this
Next, run a
dir so we can see anything in the
This will show you a list of files and folders with some information about them, similar to this:
There’s lots of good info here, but for basic navigation, we just care about the right-most column. Notice how we have a
Users folder. That means we can run this
Now if you run
dir again, you’ll see all the files and folders in your
C:\Users directory. Now, we didn’t find what we wanted here, so let’s go back to the parent folder. Rather than type the path to it, we can use
.. to go up one folder like so
Now we are back in
C:\. If you want to go up multiple folders at once, you can put a backslash and another set of periods like so:
cd ..\.., but we only needed one folder.
Now we want to look in that
Program Files folder. To avoid confusing the system, it’s a good idea to put quotes around the directories, especially when there are spaces in the name. So this time, we’ll use this command
C:\>cd "Program Files"
Now you are in
C:\Program Files> and a
dir command now will tell you anything that’s in here.
So, say we get tired of wandering around to find the folder and looked up exactly where we were needing to go. Turns out it’s
C:\Windows\Logs Rather than do a
Logs, we can just put the full path like so:
And that’s the basics of navigating the command prompt. You can now move through all your folders so you can run your other commands in the proper places.
Microsoft Command Prompt is a command-line interpreter (CLI) for the Windows operating systems.
A CLI is program intended primarily to read operating system instructions typed on a keyboard by the user. It is therefore addressed also as a command-line interface, to contrast it with graphical interfaces.
As these interfaces (whether textual or graphical) shield the user from directly accessing to the operating system kernel, they are also said shells.
Given the name of the Command Prompt executable file,
cmd.exe, the Command Prompt is friendly named
Given its OS piloting role, it is also said the console.
Like other shells, cmd can read batch of instructions from a file. In this case the cmd shell acts as a language interpreter and the file content can be regarded as an actual program. When executing these batch programs, there is no intermediate compilation phase. They are typically read, interpreted and executed line by line. Since there is no compilation, there is no production of a separated executable file. For this reason the programs are denoted batch scripts or shell scripts.
Note that the instructions entered interactively might have a slightly different syntax from those submitted as a script, but the general principle is that what can be entered from the command line can be also put in a file for later reuse.
Command Prompt batch scripts have extension
.bat, the latter for compatibility reasons.
To create a hello-word-script, you first need a place where to type it. For simple scripts, also the Windows Notepad will do. If you are serious about shell scripting, you need more effective tools. There are anyway several free alternatives, such as Notepad++.
In your designated editor type:
echo Hello World pause
Save it as
If you are using “Notepad” as an editor, you should pay much attention to the saved name, as Notepad tends to add always a
.txt extension to your files, which means that the actual name of your file might be
hello.cmd.txt. To avoid this, in the save dialog box:
- In the
File namefield enter the name in double quotes, e.g.
- In the
Save as typefield select All Files, instead of the default Text Document option.
If the file has been saved properly, its icon should be similar to (Windows Vista):
You may also consider to disable the option “Hide extension for known file types” in File Explorer folder view options. In this case, file names are always displayed with their extensions.
hello.cmd there are two possibilities. If you are using the Windows graphical shell, just double click on its icon.
If you want to use the Command Prompt itself, you must first identify the directory where you saved
In this regard, if you open File Explorer with +E. In the windows listing files, you normally read the name of the directory path containing them. You can therefore identify the directory of
hello.cmd. Windows directory names tend to be quite long and typing them is error prone. It is better if you select and copy the directory path in the clipboard for later pasting.
Start the Command Prompt. You read a line similar to this.
Microsoft Windows [Version ...] (c) ... Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. C:\Users\...>
The version/year of Windows of course depends on yours.
In the the final line, before
>, you read the path of the directory which is current. You should make current the directory where your script is. For this reason enter the change directory command
cd, using a line similar to the following:
<dirpath>, paste the name of the directory you previously copied.
To paste the directory path, in Windows 10, you just need to type Ctrl-C, as you would in an editor. For older systems you should be able to do this by right clicking in the
After entering the command, note that current path, before
>, changes accordingly.
You can now run your hello script by simply entering:
The script prints an output similar to:
C:\Users\...>echo Hello World Hello World C:\Users\...>pause Press any key to continue . . .
The lines hosting the symbol
> restate the script instructions as if you had entered interactively.
This can be disabled writing:
as the first line of your script. This might reduce the clutter, but you have less hints on what is going on, with respect to those script commands that do not give visible outputs.
The last command,
pause, prompts you to hit any key. When you do, you exit
If you run
hello from the console, you don’t really need it, because, when
hello terminates its execution,
cmd.exe remains open and you can to read
When double-clicking in Explorer, you start
cmd.exe for the time necessary to execute
cmd.exe does the same and you have no possibility to read
pause command prevents
hellofrom exiting until you hit a key, which gives also the possibility to read the output.
Finally, despite the name of the script is
hello.cmd, it is not necessary to type the whole name, its
hello stem is sufficient. This mechanism works for executables too, with extension
.exe. What if there is a script
hello.cmd and an executable
hello.exe in the same directory? The former has priority in the Command Prompt, so
hello.cmd will be executed.