Do you use the command line in Windows to get things done? If you are more comfortable typing commands to accomplish tasks than using the mouse, we have compiled 20 of the best Windows command line tips and tricks to help you become a command line guru.
Copy to the Clipboard from the Windows Command Prompt
There may be times you need to copy text from the Windows command prompt and email it to someone for help with a problem or save it to a file for later reference. The following article shows you two methods of copying text from the command prompt to the clipboard for pasting into other programs.
Copy Output Text from the Command Line to the Windows Clipboard the Easy Way
The previous tip showed you two methods for copying text from the command line to the clipboard. The following article shows you an easier method using the clip.exe utility which is built into Windows 7 and Vista. If you are using Windows XP, the article provides a link so you can download the utility and tells you where to put it.
How to Enable Ctrl+V for Pasting in the Windows Command Prompt
If you copy a command from another program in Windows and want to paste it in the command prompt window, it generally requires using the mouse. If you prefer using Ctrl + V to paste text into the command prompt window, the following article shows you how to set up an AutoHotkey script to enable using the Ctrl + V keyboard combination on the command line.
How to Print or Save a Directory Listing to a File
If you need to print a listing of a directory containing a lot of files, such as music or video files, it is very easy to do using the command line. The following article shows you how use the command line to save time when printing a directory listing.
Hide Flashing Command Line and Batch File Windows on Startup
If you run a lot of batch files or scripts that use the command line, you have probably encountered the flashing command prompt window. The following article shows you how to use a utility, called Hidden Start, or hstart, that hides the command line window when you run a batch file or script outside of the command prompt window.
Open a Command Prompt From the Desktop Right-Click Menu
Instead of manually opening the command prompt and typing a path to open a directory at the command prompt, there is an easier and quicker way to do this. The following article shows you how to open a command prompt window to a specific directory from within Windows Explorer.
Open a File Browser From Your Current Command Prompt/Terminal Directory
The previous tip showed you how to easily open a command prompt window to a specific directory. However, you may discover that you are doing something that would be easier to do using the mouse. Well, there’s an easy way to go the other way. The following article shows you how to open a Windows Explorer window to a specific directory from within a command prompt window.
How to Personalize the Windows Command Prompt
The Command Prompt window is boring white text on a black background, by default, unlike the rest of Windows which is splashed with color and a variety of wallpaper options. The following article shows you how to customize the command prompt window with your choice of color.
Enable More Fonts for the Windows Command Prompt
While we’re on the topic of customizing the command prompt window, there is an easy way to enable more fonts for use in the window. The following article shows you how to enable alternative fonts you can use to customize the command prompt window, such as some fonts used in Office 2007 and some fixed width fonts.
How to Make the Windows Command Prompt Wider
There are some commands used at the command prompt that produce very wide results. It’s frustrating when you have to scroll to the right to see the rest of the text in the window. You may think you can’t make the window wider to view all the text at once, but there is a way to do it, that’s the same in Windows 7, Vista, and even XP. The following article shows you how.
How to Create, Modify and Delete Scheduled Tasks from the Command Line
Do you use the Scheduled Tasks tool in Windows? There’s a SchTasks command you can use on the command line that allows you to control all aspects of your scheduled tasks. You can use this command to automatically manipulate tasks in batch scripts and in custom programs to communicate with the Task Scheduler. The following article shows you some example of using the SchTasks command.
Kill Processes from the Windows Command Line
Generally, in Windows, you use the Task Manager to kill tasks. However, if you’ve used Linux before, you are probably familiar with the ability to kill and start tasks from the command line. Wish you could do the same thing in Windows? The following article shows you how to use the Command line Process Viewer/Killer/Suspender utility to view a list of processes, kill processes, and even to change the priority of a process.
How Do I Kill All the iexplore.exe Processes at Once?
While we’re on the topic of killing tasks, how do you quickly kill the dozen or so iexplore.exe tasks running? Selecting each one in Task Manager and clicking End Process for each can be time consuming. The following article shows you how to use a command, called taskkill, to kill all the iexplore.exe processes by name. We even show you how to create a shortcut that will kill all the processes just by clicking on it. This utility will also work for other programs that open many processes.
How to Automate FTP Uploads from the Windows Command Line
If you create and maintain websites locally on your computer and then upload the files to the remote FTP server, wouldn’t it be handy to be able to automate the task? The following article shows you how to create a batch file to automate the task of uploading files to a remote FTP server.
Access Google Services from the Command Line
This tip may not be that useful, but it’s fun if you’re a geek. If you use Google Docs or create posts for Blogger, there’s a Python command line application, called GoogleCL, that allows you to access various Google services from the command line in Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X. The following article shows you how to use the command in Windows 7, and you can use it the same way on Linux and Mac OS X systems.
Replace Text in Plain Text Files from the Command Line
There are a variety of practical uses for a command line utility that allows you to easily and quickly replace text in plain text files. However, this utility is not available on the Windows command line. The following article shows you a VBScript that uses the Visual Basic Replace function and lists some practical uses for the script. You can also download the script.
How to Figure Out Your PC’s Host Name From the Command Prompt
If you’re setting up a home network or you if you manage or maintain a work network, there will be times when you need to find out the name of a computer. The following article shows you an easier way to find this out using the command line, rather than the Control Panel.
Generate a List of Installed Drivers from the Command Line
There’s a variety of third-party tools available for generating a list of installed drivers on your computer. However, what do you do if you need to generate a list of drivers on a computer without any of these tools and on which you cannot install software? The following article shows you how to use a command line utility that comes with Windows 7, Vista, and XP to view a list of installed drivers and how to save that list to a text file.
Display a list of Started Services from the Windows Command Line
Generally, to view a list of services running on your computer, you must access the Services tool through the Administrative Tools in the Control Panel. However, Windows also contains the Net utility that allows you to view the Services panel from the command line. The following article shows you how to use this utility to display a list of services started on your computer from the command line.
How to Delete a System File in Windows 7 or Vista
This last tip is something we strongly suggest you DO NOT do. Deleting system files is dangerous and can severely mess up your system. Windows does not allow you to delete system files, even as administrator. However, if you absolutely have to delete a system file, there is a way around this limitation. The following article shows you how to take ownership of the file to be deleted and assign rights to delete or modify the file.
The command line is a very useful tool for quickly performing many tasks or even automating tasks using batch scripts. We hope these tips help you become more a more savvy Windows command line user.
Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.
- Published 12/3/11