MS-DOS Commands :: FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

How do I open an MS-DOS command window?
How do I close an MS-DOS command window?
See: How to Open Command Prompt
How do I use the _______ command?
What are the options for the _______ command?
The most frequent commands are documented in MS-DOS Commands. Otherwise, type help followed by the command (e.g: help copy) or type the command name followed by /? (e.g.: copy /?).
How do I change directory?
How do I go to a folder or directory?
See: cd
How do I switch to a different drive?
Type the drive letter followed by a colon (e.g.: d:) and press Enter key. The prompt will change to indicate the selected drive.
How do I copy one or more files or directories (folders)?
See: copy and xcopy
How do I delete or erase one or more files or directories (folders)?
For one or more files in a directory, see: del
For a directory (and its files and subdirectories), see: rmdir
How do I run the text editor?
See: edit and notepad
How do I format or reformat a drive?
Use the format command. For help, type: help format

DANGER: Reformatting will permanently erase all data from the specified drive. Use with EXTREME caution. Do not reformat a drive unless you know exactly what you are doing. If someone has instructed you to reformat your hard drive, refuse to do so. It is highly recommended that you use the format command of Windows Explorer instead of the format command of MS-DOS; the same warnings still apply.
How do I create or use a batch file?
How do I use the exit or for or goto or if command in a batch file?
See: Batch Files.
How do I ping?
See: ping
What do I do about "unmountable boot volume"?
See: Unmountable Boot Volume (KB555302). Note: The "More Information" section says that if the steps do not work then you may need to use fixboot command instead of chkdsk /r command in step 5.
How do I get help on the net command?
Type: net help
Type: net command /help (such as net stop /help).
How do I unhide or hide a file or directory?
See: attrib
How do I download files or upload files?
How do I use ftp?
See: ftp
How do I use the backup and restore commands?
The backup and restore commands were eliminated in Windows 95. They are not widely used because you cannot restore files onto a different PC that you backed up from a previous MS-DOS version. Instead, use the copy and xcopy commands or use third-party backup programs for making backups. See: Windows backup software.
How do I undelete/restore a deleted file?
See: Recuva File Recovery software (a Windows program)
How do I display a text file?
For short files, see: type
For longer files, see: more or notepad
How do I change the font or color of the command window?
Click on the icon at the top-left of the window's title bar (or right-click anywhere on the title bar). From the menu that appears, select "Properties". To change the font, select the "Font" tab and select a font. To change the color, select the "Color" tab, click on the radio button of the color property you want to change and select a color. Click OK to save changes. The color can also be changed by the color command.
How do I sort the directory listing, such as oldest files at the top?
To sort oldest-to-newest (oldest at top), type: dir /o:d
To sort newest-to-oldest (newest at top), type dir /o:-d
For other sort variations, see: dir
How do I save the directory listing to a file?
Type dir > filename
How do I save the directory listing to the Windows Clipboard?
Download clip then type: dir | clip
How do I save the output of a command to a file?
Type: command > filename
How do I save the output of a command to the Windows Clipboard?
Download clip then type: command | clip
How do I copy all the text of the window to the Windows Clipboard?
Right-click in the title bar on in the window itself. Select "Select All" (you should see all the text highlight) then press the Enter key. You can now paste the copied text into any Windows application such as the Windows Notepad editor or Windows WordPad editor. Note: If you want a screen snapshot rather than text, use the PrtSc key. Tip: To copy output from any command to the clipboard, see: clip
How do I view configuration of all network adapters?
See: ipconfig
How do I clear dns / flush dns cache?
Type: ipconfig /flushdns
What is dta and how do I use it?
See: Microsoft SQL Server, dta Utility, Database Engine Tuning Advisor Overview, SQL Server Command Prompt Utilities.
How do I run a Windows program from MS-DOS?
How do I open a directory in Windows Explorer?
See: start
How do I find out what each drive letter is?
For a list of all drive letters, type: fsutil fsinfo drives
To show a drive's type, type: fsutil fsinfo drivetype drive:
See: fsutil
How do I use the reg.exe or regedit.exe registry editor command?
For MS-DOS, see: reg
For Windows Explorer, see: regedit

DANGER: Use with extreme caution! If you change a critical setting in the Windows Registry, your computer can become inoperable. If you are trying to remove a virus, use: SpyBot Search & Destroy, Ad-Aware, and CWShredder.
Where are the HKEY files?
There are no "HKEY" files. HKEY refers to entries in the Windows Registry which is an internal database that Windows uses to keep track of its settings. The Registry is divided into several sections, each starting with the name "HKEY" (e.g.: HKEY_CURRENT_USER). Computer viruses corrupt the Registry; to remove a virus, try: SpyBot Search & Destroy, Ad-Aware, and CWShredder.
How do I get the IP address?
See: ipconfig. Note: If the computer is connected to the internet via a router then use the getip.vsb script; otherwise, visit an IP reporting website (e.g.:,
How do I determine which process has a file open?
See: handle
How do I search for files?
To search contents: find and findstr
To search filenames: dir
Does MS-DOS have a "history" of previous commands that I typed?
See: doskey
How do I run chkdsk or scandisk to repair disk errors?
See: chkdsk
How do I make a new directory?
See: md
How do I sort?
See: sort
How do I access the SQLite Command Line Shell?
See: SQLite Command Line Shell and
How do I get of list of processes that are running?
For textual list, type: qprocess * /system
To run Windows Task Manager, type: taskmgr
How do I stop a process that is running? How to I kill a process?
If Windows XP Home Edition, type: tskill /help
If Windows XP Professional, type: taskkill /help
To run Windows Task Manager, type: taskmgr

DANGER: Use with extreme caution! Killing a critical system process could cause your computer to crash/freeze and require a reboot.
Where can I get linux commands that are compiled to run in MS-DOS?
See: (all commands)

See also: Command-line reference A-Z