Now that you’ve arrived get ready to tackle the command line with confidence! You’re in the right place if you’re looking to become a master of the command line interface for Windows operating systems. No matter if you already have some basic knowledge or if this is your first foray into CLI, our guide has everything you need to help make you an efficient and productive user.
Table of Contents
How to use the Command Line?
To begin using the command line, you must first open a command prompt. You can do this by pressing the Windows key + R on your keyboard, typing “cmd” in the Run dialog box, and hitting Enter.
Opening a command prompt is the first step in performing many technological tasks. You can explore your computer’s file system from there by supplying simple commands.
Command Line Setup Commands
|cls||Clear the Command prompt window.|
|cmd||Start a new instance of the command interpreter.|
|color||Change the current session’s foreground and background colors in the Command Prompt window.|
|exit||Quit and close the command prompt.|
|help||Display a list of the available commands.|
|prompt||Change the Cmd.exe command prompt.|
|title||Set the Cmd.exe window title.|
File and Folder Management
You can quickly navigate through your files and folders, create new directories, and copy or move files between locations. Taking the time to learn these essential commands will save you a huge amount of time while keeping file organization simple and efficient.
|assoc||Fix file associations.|
|attrib||Change file attributes.|
|cd (or chdir)||Change the current working directory.|
|comp||Perform a comparison of multiple files.|
|compact||Copy files from one location to another.|
|del (or erase)||Delete files.|
|dir||List files and subfolders.|
|expand||Expand compressed files.|
|find||Filter a string in files.|
|findstr||Search for patterns of text in files.|
|md (or mkdir)||Create a directory or subdirectory.|
|move||Move files from one directory to another.|
|openfiles||Display the currently open files list or disconnect opened files/folders.|
|Send a text file to a printer.|
|rd (or rmdir)||Delete a directory.|
|ren (or rename)||Rename a file or directory.|
|replace||Replace existing or add new files to a directory.|
|robocopy||Copy file data from one location to another.|
|tree||Display the tree structure of a directory.|
|type||Display the contents of a text file.|
|xcopy||Copy files and directories.|
Disk & Partition Commands
|active||Mark the partition with focus as active.|
|chkntfs||Display or modify automatic disk checking when the computer is started.|
|clean||Remove all partitions or volume formatting from the disk with focus.|
|convert||Convert a disk from one disk type to another.|
|create||Create a partition or volume.|
|defrag||Locates and consolidates fragmented files on local volumes.|
|delete||Delete a partition or a volume.|
|detail||Display information about the selected disk.|
|diskcomp||Compare the contents of two floppy disks.|
|diskcopy||Copy the content of the disk.|
|diskpart||Manage computer disks and drives.|
|diskperf||Start or stop disk performance counters for Performance Monitor.|
|extend||Extend a partition or a volume.|
|format||Format a disk to accept Windows files.|
|freedisk||Check to see if the specified amount of disk space is available before continuing with the installation process.|
|fsutil||Perform tasks that are related to FAT and NTFS file systems.|
|gpt||Assign gpt attribute(s) to a partition.|
|label||Create, change, or delete the volume label of a disk.|
|list||Display a list of disks.|
|recover||Recover readable information from a bad or defective disk.|
|vol||Display the disk volume label and serial number.|
System Information, and Configuration
|date||Display or set the system date.|
|driverquery||Display device driver status and properties.|
|hostname||Display the computer hostname.|
|shutdown||Turn off the computer.|
|systeminfo||Display computer system information.|
|time||Display or set the system time.|
|ver||Display Windows system version number.|
|arp||Display and modify entries in the ARP cache.|
|bitsadmin||Create, download, or upload jobs and monitor their progress.|
|dnscmd||Manage DNS servers.|
|ftp||Connect to and use FTP.|
|getmac||Return the MAC address.|
|ipxroute||Display and modify information about the routing tables used by the IPX protocol.|
|irftp||Sends files over an infrared link.|
|jetpack||Compact a WINS or DHCP database.|
|netsh||Network Shell utility.|
|netstat||Display network statistics.|
|net use||Connect/disconnect a computer to/from a shared resource|
|ping||View the computer name and the IP address of an endpoint computer.|
|tracert||Determine the route to a destination by sending ICMP packets to the destination.|
Smart Ways to Use the Command Prompt
Wired has an interesting piece of content showing useful ways to use the Command Prompt. Some of our favorites:
If you want to shut down your computer after a certain length of time, but the program you are using doesn’t have a built-in option for this, don’t worry; the command prompt can help!
With a simple command, you can set up your system to turn itself off after one hour (or any other predetermined amount of time – it’s totally up to you). All you need to do is open the command prompt on your computer and type in the given command. It’s that easy – no complex setup, no hassle.
So the next time you have a process running, and you need the computer to turn itself off afterward, just use the command prompt – it’s a great way to save time and make sure everything runs smoothly.
shutdown -s -t 3600
“Shutdown” is the main command to use when you want to turn off or restart your computer according to a schedule. You can add different flags, like -s for shutdown or -r for restart, and then add a time value with the -t flag.
That way, you can choose how long until your computer hibernates itself. 3600 seconds equals one hour, but you can adjust this value however you need – so if two hours is better for your schedule, just update the number to 7200 seconds!
If you want to cancel that timer altogether, simply run another command – shutdown -a – in a Command Prompt. Easy peasy!
How to View a Saved Wi-Fi Password
Backing up information like passwords is important, and that’s why so many of our Wi-Fi networks are password-protected. However, even though they’re protected, we sometimes forget what that password was!
If you’ve ever been in this situation where you know the network is saved on your Windows laptop, but you can’t recall the password for your other devices, there’s a simple command you can run to reveal the saved password.
All it takes is going into the Network Status menu of the laptop if you’re connected to it or running a particular command if you aren’t, and then voila – suddenly, you know what that elusive password is!
netsh wlan show profile YourWifiName key=clear
A big high five for using our site! We know mastering the command line can be daunting, but the great news is that the Windows command line interface has a range of features and commands which can help you become actively more productive.
With our cheat sheet, you have all the information you need to start using it confidently.