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Beginners Guides: Windows Command Prompt
Beginners Guides: Windows Command Prompt - PCSTATS
Back in the heyday of text-based operating systems like Unix and DOS, the command prompt was the operating system.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Mar 05 2011   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Part 1: Entering and using the Windows XP command prompt

Before we get to the various interesting things you can do with the command prompt, we should first make sure that everyone is on the same level regarding how to actually open and navigate it. With modern Windows PCs, it's quite possible that many users have never even seen a command prompt, let alone learned how to use one.

Entering the Windows XP command prompt

The easiest way to get to the command prompt is by opening up the run command and typing 'cmd'. To do this: Open the start menu and click 'run.' In the text box, type 'CMD'.

This will open the command prompt, starting you off at the C:\documents and settings\(user name)> prompt. To get to the root of the C: drive, type


and press enter, then repeat this same step again. You will now be looking at the C:\> prompt, meaning the root of your main hard drive, just as if you'd opened 'my computer' and double clicked on drive (C:\).

Now let's look at how to get around in the command prompt's DOS-like environment.

Navigating the Command Prompt

Like the Windows graphical environment you are used to, the command prompt uses drives and directories (folders) to organize data. Each logical drive (C:\, D:\, etc.) has it's own entry here, and contains its own set of directories and files.

The command prompt window will place you at'C:\>' by default, meaning you are looking at the logical 'C:\' drive, generally the first hard disk on your computer and the one on which Windows is installed.

As an experiment, go to 'my computer' and open your c: drive in a window. Now at the command prompt, type 'DIR'.

As you can see, the contents of both windows are the same, though the order will be slightly different since Explorer puts folders before files, while the directory (DIR) command simply lists all contents alphabetically.

The 'DIR' command lists the contents of the folder or drive you are currently at in the command prompt. To get a more useful listing of the files and folders in your current directory, use the 'DIR /d' or 'DIR /p' switches. The former displays the list in three columns, fitting more info on a single screen, while the latter pauses at the end of each screen of information, waiting for you to press a key before it continues scrolling. Note how the contents of the 'DIR' command are the same files shown in the Explorer window on your desktop.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Windows Command Prompt
 Pg 2.  — Part 1: Entering and using the Windows XP command prompt
 Pg 3.  Moving Between Folders
 Pg 4.  Switches and Command Help
 Pg 5.  Creating and Deleting Folders and Files
 Pg 6.  Command Redirectors
 Pg 7.  More Handy CMD Commands
 Pg 8.  All About IPConfig
 Pg 9.  Tree and Netstat
 Pg 10.  Tasklist and SystemInfo

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