031 - What is Command Prompt

Command Prompt is an entry point for typing computer commands in the Command Prompt window. By typing commands at the command prompt, you can perform tasks on your computer without using the Windows graphical interface.

Before Windows was created, the most common operating system that ran on IBM PC compatibles was DOS. DOS stands for Disk Operating System and was what you would use if you had started your computer much like you do today with Windows. The difference was that DOS was not a graphical operating system but rather purely textual. That meant in order to run programs or manipulate the operating system you had to manually type in commands. When Windows was first created it was actually a graphical user interface that was created in order to make using the DOS operating system easier for a novice user.

As time went on and newer versions of Windows were developed DOS was finally phased out with Windows ME. Though the newer operating systems do not run on DOS, they do have something called the command prompt, which has a similar appearance to DOS.

What is Command Prompt

Command Prompt is acommand line interpreterapplication available in most Windows operating systems. Command Prompt is officially called Windows Command Processor but is also sometimes called the command shell or by its file name cmd.exe.

Note: Command Prompt is sometimes incorrectly referred to as "the DOS prompt" or as MS-DOS itself. Command Prompt is a Windows program that emulates many of the command line abilities available in MS-DOS but it is not actually MS-DOS.

What is Command Prompt Used For

Command Prompt is used to execute entered commands. Command Prompt is most commonly used to execute batch files, perform advanced administrative functions, and troubleshoot and solve certain kinds of Windows issues.

How To Access Command Prompt

Command Prompt can be accessed via the Command Prompt shortcut located in the Start Menu or on the Apps screen, depending on what version of Windows you have. Another way to access Command Prompt is via the cmd run command but using the shortcut is probably faster.

Important: Many commands can only be executed if Command Prompt is being run as an administrator.

How To Use Command Prompt

To use Command Prompt, you must enter a valid command along with any optional parameters. Command Prompt then executes the command as entered and performs whatever task or function it's designed to perform in Windows. A large number of commands exist in Command Prompt but their availability differs from operating system to operating system.

Important: Commands must be entered into Command Prompt exactly. Wrong syntax or a misspelling could cause the command to fail or worse, could execute the wrong command or the right command in the wrong way.

Command Prompt Availability

Command Prompt is available on every Windows NT-based operating system which includes Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, as well as Windows Server 2012/2008/2003.

Windows PowerShell, a more advanced command line interpreter available in recent Windows versions, in many ways supplements the command executing abilities available in Command Prompt. Windows PowerShell may eventually replace the Command Prompt in a future version of Windows.

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