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The Command Prompt: What It Is and How to Use It on a Dell System

Summary: This article provides information about some commonly used commands for Command Prompt and related helpful information.

This article may have been automatically translated. If you have any feedback regarding its quality, please let us know using the form at the bottom of this page.

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Table of Contents:

  1. What is the Command Prompt
  2. How to Access Command Prompt
  3. Commonly Used Commands
  4. Frequently Asked Question's and Links

What is the Command Prompt

In Windows operating systems, the Command Prompt is a program that emulates the input field in a text-based user interface screen with the Windows Graphical User Interface (GUI).

It can be used to execute entered commands and perform advanced administrative functions. It can also be used to troubleshoot and solve certain kinds of Windows issues.

cmd window
Figure 1: Command Prompt Window

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How to Open the Command Prompt

Dependent on which operating system you have installed, please select the Tab that corresponds to your version of Windows.

NOTE: The examples below show how to open an Elevated Command Prompt. This means opening the Command Prompt with administrator rights.

 

 

 

Open Command Prompt in Windows 7

  1. Click the Windows Start Button.

  2. In the search box type cmd.

  3. In the search results, Right-Click on cmd and select Run as administrator (Figure 2).


    elevated cmd win7
    Figure 2: Run as administrator
  4. This will open the Command Prompt window (Figure 3).


    win7 cmd window
    Figure 3: Windows 7 Command Prompt
  5. To change to the Root directory type cd\ and hit Enter (Figure 4).


    win7 cmd window cd
    Figure 4: Command Prompt at Root directory
    NOTE: The Root directory is the best place to enter any required commands or instructions.

 

 

Open Command Prompt in Windows 8 / 8.1

  1. Move the mouse pointer to the bottom-left corner of the screen and Right-click, or press Windows key + X.

  2. In the power user task menu, select Command Prompt (Admin) (Figure 5).


    power_menu_win 8
    Figure 5: Power user task menu
  3. This will open the Command Prompt window (Figure 6).


    Win 8 cmd window
    Figure 6: Windows 8 Command Prompt
  4. To change to the Root directory type cd\ and hit Enter (Figure 7).


    Win 8 cmd window cd
    Figure 7: Command Prompt at Root directory
    NOTE: The Root directory is the best place to enter any required commands or instructions.

 

 

Open Command Prompt in Windows 10

  1. Move the mouse pointer to the bottom-left corner of the screen and Right-click, or press Windows key + X.

  2. In the power user task menu, select Command Prompt (Admin) (Figure 8).


    power menu 10
    Figure 8: Power user task menu
  3. This will open the Command Prompt window (Figure 9).


    win10 cmd window 2
    Figure 9: Windows 10 Command Prompt
  4. To change to the Root directory type cd\ and press Enter (Figure 10).


    win10 cmd window cd
    Figure 10: Command Prompt at Root directory
    NOTE: The Root directory is the best place to enter any required commands or instructions.

 

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Commonly Used Commands

  • cd (change directory)
    Command used to switch the directory (path) in which you are working.

    Example: cd\windows\system32 Will move the prompt to the system32 folder path located in the Windows folder.
     

  • dir (Directory)
    Allows you to see available files and folders within the selected directory. Also provides details on the modification date and size of files.

    Several additional switches can be used with the command to perform additional actions. (see the Microsoft guide SLN265940_en_US__15iC_External_Link_BD_v1 below for further info on the available commands).

    Example: C:\> dir
    This will display the contents of the C: directory or drive.

 

  • ipconfig
    This command will display the current network information for your adapters including IP Address, Default Gateway, Subnet Mask etc.
     
  • ping
    This command is used as a troubleshooting tool to resolve network issues. It will send a data packet to another system on the network and will await a reply - outputting the results.

    Example: ping 192.168.0.2
    This will ping the computer with the address 192.168.0.2 and output any response.
     
  • Help ( /?)
    The help command provides information about another command including available switches to perform additional tasks.

    Example: ipconfig /help

A list of commands can be found at Microsoft Command-line Reference Guide External Link

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FAQs

How do I cancel a command?

Use Ctrl + C to stop a command from running.
NOTE: This is not an undo. The command will only stop the current command during its process.

 

How can I shut down or restart the computer from Command Prompt screen?

The commands below can also be used to shutdown or restart computers on your network. This can be handy when applying updates that require restarts to take effect.
  • shutdown /s command will shut down the system you are working on.
  • shutdown / i from the command prompt will open the Remote Shutdown Dialog window, this will provide options available via an easy to use interface including networked systems.

 

How do I access previous commands that I have used?

You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to cycle through the previously executed commands. For example, the UP and DOWN arrows will show the most recently used commands. The RIGHT and LEFT arrows will display the commands letter by letter.

 

Where do I find a comprehensive list of commands available?

Microsoft Command-Line Reference A-Z   SLN265940_en_US__15iC_External_Link_BD_v1

 

What tools are available?

Command-Line Tools (Microsoft)  SLN265940_en_US__15iC_External_Link_BD_v1

 

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Article Properties


Affected Product

Desktops & All-in-Ones, Laptops

Last Published Date

17 Aug 2021

Version

4

Article Type

Solution