Five Windows command prompt tips every IT pro should know

Most Windows users may prefer the GUI, but IT pros recognize the power of the command prompt. Bill Detwiler shows you five tricks for the IT ninja.

The Windows GUI may be easy for the average user to navigate, but power users and IT pros alike still recognize the usefulness of the command prompt. Bill Detwiler shows you five tricks that will help you become a command-prompt ninja.

In the video, I mention a tip from TechRepublic member Kiwi.Dusty and mytmous about using the Function keys from the command prompt. Here's the complete list Function Key actions as posted in the original article's discussion post:

F1 retypes the previous command one character at a time

F2 brings up a dialog and asks "Enter the char to copy up to:"

F3 retypes the last command in full

F4 brings up a dialog and asks "Enter char to delete up to:"

F5 as for F3

F6 Print EOF character (Ctrl+Z)

F7 brings up a dialog of all the recent command history

F8 brings up each of the most recent commands, one at a time

F9 brings up a dialog and asks "Enter command number:"

I also outline a tip from members Davids, jnickell and philrunninger. These individuals wrote a couple of batch files that let you log your command-line sessions and then query that log for specific information.

Here's the text for each file:

Filename: q.bat

@echo off

echo ---------------- %date% %time% ---------------- >> "%userprofile%\cmdHistory.txt"

doskey /history >> "%userprofile%\cmdHistory.txt"


Filename: h.bat

@echo off

if %1. == . (

type "%userprofile%\cmdHistory.txt" 2> nul

echo ---------------- %date% %time% ----------------

doskey /history

) else (

if /i %1. == /edit. (

start "Revising History..." "%userprofile%\cmdHistory.txt"

) else (

echo ------------------------------------------- Previous Windows

type "%userprofile%\cmdHistory.txt" 2> nul | findstr /i "%*"

echo ------------------------------------------------ This Window

doskey /history | findstr /i "%*"



Here's a big "thank you" to all the members who shared these great command line tips. I'll be sending each of them a TechRepublic coffee mug.

For those of you who prefer text to video, you can click the Transcript link that appears below the video player window or you can also read Greg Shultz's article, "Five Windows command-prompt tips every IT pro should know," on which the first command line tip is based.

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