Windows Vista Help

Windows Vista Commands

1. How do I type in commands rather than use Explorer?

Windows Vista comes with a command prompt. You can access it via Start, Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt. Alternatively, you can quickly access it via Start, Run, cmd.exe or This will bring up a window, similar to below:

Command Prompt

The current directory is displayed followed by a flashing underline cursor. To exit this window, type exit or click on the X on top right of the window.

2. What commands are available to use with Windows Vista?

Many of the commands are similar to the ones from the old MS-DOS days. Commands can be run from the current directory or those listed in the command path. The command path can be viewed by typing Path and can be edited via the System Control Panel, Advanced, Environmental Variables. Most commands are available in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. To view the parameters of the command you can type either Help <command> or <command> /? (slash, question mark). Commands can be combined using the pipe (|) character e.g. Type file | More.

File System Commands Purpose
append <dir> Add directory to data path when opening files
attrib <file> <attribs> Set or display attribute flags of file(s)
cd <directory> Change directory. To change drive just enter name of drive letter followed by a colon e.g. C:
copy <source> <dest> Copy one or more files (the ? and * wildcards can be used to select files)
del <files> Delete one or more files
erase <files> Erases one or more files
md <directory> Make or create a directory
rd <directory> Remove or delete a directory
ren <orig> <new> Rename file(s)
move <source> <dest> Move file(s) to another folder or drive
type <file> Display contents of a text file
more < file Display contents of a file a screen at a time
edit <file> Change contents of a file
find "string" <file(s)> Search for string in a file
comp <file1> <file2> Compare two files
compact <file> Compact or compress a file
cipher Set or display encryption settings for folders
chkdsk Check disk for errors
convert Convert filesystem to another filesystem e.g. NTFS
defrag Defragment a filesystem
diskpart Disk Partitioning program
edlin <file> Line editor (use ? for help)
expand <file> Expands a compressed file
takeown Take ownership of files or folders
Other Commands Purpose
mode Settings for serial and parallel ports in DOS mode
print <file> Print file to LPT1 or other device
at Set up scheduled tasks
arp Settings for Address Resolution protocol
bootcfg Set or display boot configuration (boot.ini)
cacls Set or display NTFS permissions
chcp <n> Change code page
cmd Open a command window (see above)
convlog Convert IIS log files
cscript <file> Run a VB or other script
debug Debug programs
diskperf Enable or disable disk performance counters
doskey DOS command history utility
driverquery Display installed drivers
eventcreate Utility to create events in the event log
eventtriggers Utility to create event triggers
exe2bin Converts executable files to binary format
control <cpl file> Load a control panel
dxdiag DirectX Diagnostics
sfc System File Check (check for missing or corrupt system files)
bcdedit Change boot configuration
bitsadmin BITS (Background intelligent transfer service) Administration
cmdkey Administers stored credentials
choice Choose between different options
dvdplay Play a DVD using Windows Media Player
ftp File Transfer protocol
getmac Get machine's physical address for network card
hostname Display PC's hostname
mountvol Mount volumes
openfiles Displays or disconnects open files
robocopy Robust file copy
syskey Secure user accounts with more encryption
sc Service Control manager
shutdown Shutdown PC
taskkill Kill tasks
UnattendedJoin Unattended join to a domain
PnPUtil Plug and Play Utility
RpcPing Remote Procedure Call ping tool

3. Where can I add more commands to my Windows Vista system?

You can add tools from the Sysinternals tools to manage files and folders, processes, security, networking and system information.

4. How do I change the colours for the command prompt?

Open a command window, select the top left of the window for a pop up menu to appear and select Properties. Select Screen text and select a colour (green is a popular colour), then select Screen Background and select another colour.

5. How do I change the command prompt text?

By default, the command prompt is the current path followed by an arrow e.g. C:\Windows> which is set by the command prompt $P$G. You can change it to a Unix type prompt using Prompt $$ or Prompt $P$G or something more exotic like Prompt $D$T$G which display date and time. For other options type Prompt /?.

6. Where can I find older DOS and Unix type commands?

If you want an old BASIC interpreter try GWBasic or QBasic
For counting words, lines and sentences try WC for Windows.
For displaying the end part of file, try Tail for Windows.
For bash commands, try Cygwin.

7. Is there a more advanced shell for Windows?

Yes, Windows includes new a shell called Powershell which uses the .NET Framework APIs to provide powerful commands to manipulate everything from disks, files, folders, user and group accounts, services, and so on. Commands usually start with Get-, Set-, Add-, Remove-, Move- and so on. Additional applications can extend the Powershell with their own commands such as Active Directory, Exchange, SQL, Sharepoint, Lync, Skype and so on. Download the Powershell update from Microsoft.