Tech Tip: Enable command-line completion

The command line is an integral part of Windows NT system administration. To enable command-line completion, there are a couple of methods you can use: wildcards and the [Tab] key.

For example, to switch to your system's Program Files folder, type cd \progra* at the command line and press [Enter]. Using this wildcard will place you in the Program Files folder unless another folder matches the string. In that case, you'll be placed in the first match. It's also possible to use command-line completion with the [Tab] key.

Here's how to enable this feature:

  1. Start the Registry Editor (Regedit or Regedt32).
  2. Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor.
  3. Locate the CompletionChar value and set it to 9, which is the value for the [Tab] character in ASCII.
  4. Exit the Registry Editor.

Start a command prompt and type cd \ Program{tab} from the root of the system volume. You should end up with cd "C:\Program Files" as a result. Make sure you leave a space between the \ character and cd, or the procedure won't work.

Note: Editing the registry is risky, so be sure you have a verified backup before making any changes.

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