Basic Windows Commands

Before the mouse became common, if you had a problem with your computer, you had to make use of DOS or Command Prompt (for future reference, the terms ‘Command Prompt, DOS prompt, and command prompt‘ are the same thing). Command Prompt bi-passes the user interface and communicates directly with the operating system, which is both faster and easier (if you know what you’re doing); programmers and computer aficionados still regularly work with and through the command prompt. We now have convenient and aesthetically pleasing graphical user interfaces (GUI’s), but if your curious to learn more about your computer, and want to look like a genius in front of your parents, then this short blog-post is for you! (Also, directory is what DOS calls ‘folder‘.)

Go to ‘Start’, or the Windows icon, or press the Windows key, and type in ‘cmd’.

  • There’s something called an ‘elevated’ command prompt, but since I probably won’t be doing any complex programming or any programming at all in the forseable future, I won’t include information on that.
  • Many commands have extra options, called ‘switches’.
    •  type ‘command’ to find information on the available switches for a particular command. 

A list of some basic commands:

  • C: – go to the C drive, or D, H, etc… 
  • CLS – clear the screen.
  • DEL – deletes one or more files in the current directory; can be used with *.* to delete ALL files in the current directory (use with caution)
  • DIR – displays all the contents of a directory
  • HELP – displays cmd help; or you can type the cmd and then help for information on a particular command.
  • RD – remove directory, or sub-folder; *note, the directory must first be empty of all files (see DIR cmd).*
  • RENAME – yeah, it renames a file.
  • TYPE – displays contents of a file on screen; non-txt files will be unintelligible.
  • > – redirects output to a file.


For more information, visit this link []. Information on this particular subject is seriously not that difficult to come across.


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