10 Useful Windows Command Line Tips

Linux users (as I am one and on the other side a Windows user too) are always proud of their command line prowess and generally have some tricks up their sleeves. While the Windows Command Line is not considered as powerful as what a Linux had to offer, here are some useful Windows Command Line tips and tricks not everyone might have know about.

Drag and drop files for a full path

Tired of typing the long pathnames for files/folders buried deep inside a folder tree? Just drag and drop the file onto the command prompt window and you will get the full path and filename reveal to you.

Copy and Paste from/to the command line

Click on the icon in the title bar and choose Edit > Mark. Now, drag over the area you want to copy, hit Enter and the text is copied to the clipboard. Similarly, you can click on the icon in the title bar and choose Paste to paste the text you already have on the clipboard. You can also do this by right-clicking inside the command prompt window.

Hit F7 for command line history

Hit F7 and you will get a complete list of commands that you executed. Use the arrow keys to highlight the command you want to run again or just hit the number key corresponding to the command that you want to execute.

History keys

Use F1 to paste the previous command one character at a time, F2 (followed by a number) to paste the previous command up to the said number and F3 to paste the previous command.

Run multiple commands

You can run multiple command by separating them with &&. Note that this doesn’t run the commands simultaneously. Instead, the command towards the left is run first and if it completes successfully then the second command will run. If the first command fails, then the second command will not run

Go fullscreen

Hit Alt+Enter and now you have the entire screen to enter your commands and view the output. Sadly,. this doesn’t work as expected in Vista and you might have to do some additional tinkering.

Change Window Size

So you thought you knew the previous one? How would you change the size of the window? Use the mode command. Use mode , to change the size of the window. For example, mode 100, 50 will make the window 100 characters wide and 50 lines high

Get Help

Linux users turn to the man command when in doubt, while Windows users don’t have complete manuals to refer. All is not lost. You can get some help for most commands by using command /? or command –help. You can also use the help command to see a list of available commands (although the list is far from extensive).

Filter Command Output

If you are only interested in part of command output and don’t want to spend time scanning the entire output, you can pass the output over to the find command. eg use tasklist | find “firefox” to only list the entry for Firefox if it is running.

Sleep or Pause for some time

If you have ever written a batch file and wanted to wait for a period of time before you start executing the next command, you might have been amazed to find the “sleep” command missing. You can however hack yourself a sleep command using ping! Use ping -n 5 > NUL 2>&1 to wait for 5 seconds. Be warned that the timing would not be exact so don’t just bet your life on it.

Think you know some more tricks? Have a command line tip to share? Sound off in the comments and let us know!


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