Use the Windows command line

The best commands for the Windows command line

Peter Stelzel-Morawietz

35 years after Windows started, we definitely do not recommend going back to the command line. But for many useful commands you need the command prompt or Windows Powershell. A journey into the world (almost) without mouse clicks.

Gone are the days when the Windows command prompt was an inconvenient tool for professionals. This is how the clipboard has long been working at the command line level with the key combinations Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V for copying and pasting. You can also use Ctrl-F to search for a term or a string of characters.

It is also practical that the input prompt automatically remembers the most recently used commands. You do not need to laboriously enter a longer command sequence again, but call it up again using the arrow keys. If you then only want to change one parameter, you can do this specifically with the "delete from the back" key as in Word.

Command prompt, help and Windows Powershell

Before we introduce the most important commands, the difference between the "classic" command prompt and Windows Powershell should be briefly explained. The command prompt has always been part of the Microsoft operating system and can be started by entering the search term or entering cmd (abbreviated for “command”) at the bottom of the search and execute line. Windows 10 now provides the newer Windows Powershell as the standard tool for entering commands. It can and does more, but with a few exceptions it also executes all cmd commands.

Reading tip:The most important CMD commands for Windows for network analysis

Both tools can be used with and without administrator rights. Many commands do not have full rights, but some require them. In this case, right-click the command prompt or Powershell in the start menu and select the entry "Run as administrator".

The tables on the following pages contain more than 100 commands and tools, sorted into four categories: After the basics, everything follows about files and data carriers, the third category offers everything for the network, and finally system interventions and professional tricks. Our lists only include commands that work in both the 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 10.

Even if you have not used the command line, or only used it sporadically, you will get along straight away. The important parameter /? Provides quick help for almost all commands. Attached, it explains the respective syntax and all options. If you try this out with one of the commands on the following pages, the principle becomes immediately clear.

In addition, Microsoft explains all commands in German in great detail and illustrates them with examples - the website is extremely useful! An English-language summary is provided in the comprehensive “Windows Commands Reference” manual, which is available as a PDF file.

Reading tip:The 35 Best CMD Tricks for Windows

1. Basics and control

The basics range from being able to make the command prompt more appealing with color, to quickly shutting down the computer.

command

description

call

Calls a batch file (within another batch file)

clip

Redirects the command output to the clipboard

cls

Deletes the content of the current input window

color

Changes the color of the font and background in the input window

control

Starts the Windows Control Panel

date

Shows the date and allows changes

driverquery

Lists all installed device drivers with properties

echo

Outputs text messages on the screen

exit

Exits the command prompt and closes the window

find

Searches one or more files for a term

findstr

Searches like find, but offers more options

for

Executes a specified command from a set of files

hostname

Displays the computer name

mblctr

Opens the mobility center on notebooks

Fashion

Shows system status and settings, reconfigures ports and devices

msinfo32

Opens the Windows hardware information

Break

Stops the execution of a batch file