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Once you’ve learned how to navigate directories on Windows 10, the next step is learning how to find and open files using the Command Prompt. It’s just as easy as navigating through and opening a file in File Explorer. Here’s how it’s done.

First, open the Command Prompt on your PC by typing “cmd” in the Windows Search bar and then selecting “Command Prompt” from the search results.

Command prompt app in windows search

With the Command Prompt opened, you’re ready to find and open your file.

Find Files Using Command Prompt

Maybe you already know the file path to the item you want to open–maybe not. If not, you don’t need to search through File Explorer just to come back to the Command Prompt later. You can use this command instead:

dir "\search term*" /s

Just replace “search term” with, of course, the actual search term. So, if we wanted to locate our file called “Example File,” we’d use this command:

dir "\example file*" /s

Command Prompt will now search and find all instances of the search term you entered. It will (1) show you the file path, and (2) give you the file name and extension.

Find a file in the folder with dir command

Now that we’ve found our file, let’s open it.

RELATED: How to Use File Explorer Without a Mouse on Windows 10

Open Files Using Command Prompt

To open the file, you need to navigate to the directory in the Command Prompt that contains the file you would like to open. In this example, we’ve created an “Example” folder in our “Documents” folder, so we’ll head there.

In Command Prompt, use the Change Directories command ( cd <folder> ) to navigate through your folders. Because we’re currently at the top level of the computer’s file system, we’ll need to go to “Documents” first and then “Example.” So, we’ll use this command:

cd Documents\Example

Note that you must navigate to the immediate file structure. In this case, we can’t skip “Documents” and jump straight to “Example.”

Use the cd command to navigate folders

Once you have inputted your command, press the Enter key. You’ll now be in that folder.

Command Prompt showing the user which folder they are currently in

It’s now time to open the file within that folder. Our file is named “Example File.”

To open the file, enter the file name and extension in quotations. In this case:

“example file.docx”

enter file name and extension in command prompt to open file

The file will now open.

To make things a bit quicker, you can actually navigate to the correct folder and open the file in a single command. Assuming we are back at the top level, we would run this command:

“Documents\Example\example file.docx”

Enter file open command in one command

The only difference is you don’t add the cd command and the entire path is in quotations.

Marshall Gunnell Marshall Gunnell
Marshall Gunnell is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer at LINE Corporation in Tokyo, Japan.
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