ARCHIVED: What are some examples of common DOS commands?

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The following is a list of useful DOS commands, with explanations. They are useful on older DOS systems and in the command-line interface on modern Windows systems. To access the command-line interface:

  • Windows 7 or Vista: Click Start, type cmd, and then press Enter.

    Certain commands may require administrative access on Windows 7 or Vista. To launch the command line interface in administrative mode, click Start, type cmd, and then right-click the cmd or cmd.exe search result and choose Run as Administrator.

  • Windows XP: Click Start, then Run. Type cmd, and then press Enter.

Note: Where example files (e.g., file.ext, file1, file2), file extensions (.ext), directories (e.g., diry, diry1, diry2), commands (e.g., command), and drive letters (e.g., a:, b:, c:) are given, substitute the name of your own file, directory, command, or drive letter. Since DOS is not case-sensitive, you can type these commands in either upper- or lowercase.

List commands (only in DOS versions 5 or later).
help command See help for the DOS command.
command /?
List switches for the DOS command.
path=c:\windows ; c:\dos
Specify in which directories DOS searches for commands or programs.
prompt $p$g
Make the DOS prompt display the current directory.
List files in the current directory in one column.
dir /w List files in five columns.
dir /p
List files one page at a time.
dir *.ext
List all files with an .ext extension.
dir z???.ext
List files with .ext extensions that have four letters and start with z (where z is a character of your choice).
dir file.ext /s
Search for the file.ext in the current directory and all subdirectories under the current directory; most useful if the current directory is the root (i.e., C:\).
type file.ext
View the contents of the text file file.ext.
edit file.ext
Use the DOS editor to edit the file file.ext.
a: Change to the a: drive.
md c:\diry
Make a new subdirectory named diry in the c:\ directory.
cd c:\diry Change to subdirectory diry.
rd c:\diry
Remove the existing subdirectory named diry.
del file.ext Delete a file named file.ext.
ren file1 file2 Rename file file1 to file2.
copy file1 file2 Copy file file1 to file2.
verify on
Turn on verification of copy commands.
verify off
Turn off verification of copy commands.
xcopy diry1 diry2 /s
Copy all files and subdirectories in directory diry1 to diry2.
xcopy diry1 diry2 /p
Ask for confirmation of each file before copying it from diry1 to diry2.
diskcopy a: b:
Duplicate a disk using two floppy drives.
diskcopy a: a:
Duplicate a disk using the same floppy drive.
format a: Format a disk in drive a: .
format a: /s
Format a bootable disk (include system files).
backup c:\diry\*.ext a:
Back up all files with the extension .ext in c:\diry\ to drive a: .
backup c:\ a: /s
Back up the entire c: drive to drive a:.
restore a:\ c:\diry\*.ext
Restore backed-up files with the extension .ext in drive a: to the c:\diry\ directory.
restore a: c:\ /s
Restore backed-up files and subdirectories from drive a: to c:\.
ver Check the version of DOS.
Check or correct the system time.
Check or correct the system date.
cls Clear the screen.
Scan and check drive c: for errors. ScanDisk replaces chkdsk (see below) on DOS version 6.0 and above (including Windows 95).
Check disk and memory usage of the current disk.
chkdsk /f
Fix errors reported by chkdsk.
chkdsk file.ext Check a particular file.
chkdsk a:
Check a particular drive (in this case, a floppy in the a: drive).
mem Check memory usage.

This list was adapted from the August 1991 issue of PC World magazine, Instant Reference Card #15, p. 237.

This is document aerh in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 09:16:51.