Quick Tip Windows 7: Customize the command prompt

In Microsoft Windows 7, you can customize the command prompt using specifically configured shortcuts to better match the task at hand.

Despite the Microsoft Windows 7 graphical user interface, with its advanced features like Snap, Shake, and Peek, there are still plenty of good reasons to use the command prompt. If you find yourself using the command prompt for several different tasks, you may want to take a few minutes to customize it. By adjusting the font, screen size, and background color, you can make several versions of the command prompt environment, thereby associating each command prompt shortcut to a specific task.

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Create the shortcut

The customization is accomplished by adjusting property settings located in a Windows shortcut. The first step is to create a command prompt shortcut. There are several ways to do this, but for our purposes we'll use the direct method.

Right-click on any blank part of the Windows 7 Desktop and navigate to the New | Shortcut menu item (Figure A). This action will open a shortcut creation wizard, like Figure B.

Figure A

New Shortcut

Figure B

Shortcut creation wizard
Type or browse the following path in the Type the Location of the Item box, as shown in Figure C. Click Next when you are ready.


Figure C

The location
The next screen asks for a unique name for your new shortcut. You can name it whatever you'd like, but I am going to keep it simple and use Command 1 and then click Finish (Figure D).

Figure D

Command 1
There is now a new Command 1 shortcut on the Windows Desktop. Right-click that new shortcut and navigate to the Properties menu item to get the Properties screen, shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Shortcut Properties
Many times you need to run a command prompt with administrative privileges. You can make your customized shortcut run as administrator every time by clicking the Advanced button under the Shortcut tab and clicking the appropriate check box, as shown in Figure F. Click OK to put it into effect.

Figure F

Running as administrator
Under the Options tab, you can change the size of the command prompt cursor and change the two Edit Options check boxes (Figure G). Quick Edit mode allows you to paste text from the Windows clipboard into the command prompt without having to use the menu paste control. Insert mode, when checked, allows you to insert text at the cursor. If you unclick Insert mode, text will overwrite whatever text is there.

Figure G

Edit Options
Under the Font tab of the Properties screen, you can change the size of the command prompt cursor and change the font of the display (Figure H).

Figure H

Changing size and font
Under the Layout tab (Figure I), you can change the size and position of the command prompt screen on the Windows Desktop.

Figure I

Changing screen size and position
Under the Colors tab of the Shortcut Properties screen, you can change the color scheme this particular command prompt will use (Figure J). Note, the colors chosen are for instructional purposes only.

Figure J

Changing colors
Click OK when you have all the configuration settings the way you want them. My settings (Figure K) are a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. By using a specific combination of Properties settings you can establish a set of command prompt shortcuts, each with visible cues to help you keep track of which prompt is running and what task needs to be accomplished.

Figure K

Identifiable command prompt
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Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.

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