Start a new CMD shell

Syntax CMD [charset] [options] [My_Command] Options /C Carries out My_Command and then terminates /K Carries out My_Command but remains My_Command : The command, program or batch script to be run. This can even be several commands separated with '&' (the whole should also be surrounded by "quotes") /T:fg Sets the foreground/background colours /X Enable extensions to CMD.EXE under Windows 2000 you can also use /E:ON /Y Disable extensions to CMD.EXE under Windows 2000 you can also use /E:OFF /A Output ANSI Characters /U Output UNICODE Characters These 2 swiches are useful when piping or redirecting to a file Most common text files under WinNT are ANSI, use these switches when you need to convert the character set. /D Ignore registry AutoRun commands HKLM | HKCU \Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\AutoRun /F:ON Enable auto-completion of pathnames entered at the CMD prompt /F:OFF Disable auto-completion of pathnames entered at the CMD prompt (default)

At the command prompt Ctrl-D gives folder name completion and Ctrl-F gives File and folder name completion.

These key-strokes will display the first matching path. Thereafter, repeated pressing of the same control key will cycle through the list of matching paths. Pressing SHIFT with the control key will move through the list backwards.

/Q Turn echo off /S Strip quote characters from the command_line /V:ON Enable delayed environment variable expansion this allows a FOR loop to specify !variable! instead of %variable% expanding the variable at execution time instead of at input time. /V:OFF Disable delayed environment expansion. Environment expansion preference can be set permanently in the registry HKLM | HKCU \Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\DelayedExpansion Set to either 0x1 or 0x0 /knetdiag /debug /knetdiag /fix The knetdiag switches are undocumented and work in XP only they list and (may) fix these networking issues. If /C or /K is specified, then the remainder of the command line is processed as an immediate command in the new shell. Multiple commands separated by the command separator '&&' are accepted if surrounded by quotes. The following logic is used to process quote (") characters: 1. If all of the following conditions are met, then quote characters on the command line are preserved: - no /S switch - exactly two quote characters - no special characters between the two quote characters, where special is one of: &<>()@^| - there are one or more whitespace characters between the the two quote characters - the string between the two quote characters is the name of an executable file. 2. Otherwise, old behavior is to see if the first character is a quote character and if so, strip the leading character and remove the last quote character on the command line, preserving any text after the last quote character. vs cmd.exe

All the commands on these pages assume you are running the 32 bit command line (cmd.exe)

CMD.exe is the NT/XP equivalent of in previous operating systems. The older 16 bit command processor is supplied to provide backward compatibility for 16 bit DOS applications. e.g. will fail to set %errorlevel% after certain commands.

To ensure that a batch file will not run if accidentally copied to a Windows 95/98 machine you should use the extension .CMD rather than .BAT

The COMSPEC environment variable will show if you are running CMD.EXE or

Subject to licensing issues, it is possible to run the Windows 2000 or Win XP version of CMD.EXE under NT. This is not true of all commands, e.g. any command that involves NTFS disk access (such as cacls) should not be moved between OS versions.

Opening CMD from Windows Explorer

You can open a new CMD prompt by choosing START, RUN, cmd, OK

Registry Keys:

;Allow UNC paths at command prompt [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Command Processor] "DisableUNCCheck"=dword:00000001 ; Run a command when CMD.exe starts [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor] "AutoRun"=- ; Activate Automatic Completion [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor] "CompletionChar"=0x9

Previous Commands

Pressing the UP arrow will list previous commands entered at the command prompt.

Other DOSKEY function keys are loaded by default (F7, F8, F9)

Copy and Paste

To simplify the use of cut and paste at the Command Prompt, enable QuickEdit mode as follows:

Activate the control menu at the top left of the current cmd window, go to Properties, Options tab and then tick against QuickEdit Mode.

Now you can select text with the mouse and hit Enter (or right click) to copy it to the clipboard. Paste anywhere using Control+V (or Right Click) or via the menu.

ESC will cancel any selection and return to editing mode.

When copying between windows, you may need one click to select the window and a second click to paste.

Using CMD in a batch script

In a batch script CMD will start a new instance of CMD.exe which will appear in the same window. The EXIT command will close the second CMD instance and return to the previous shell.

A method of calling one Batch script from another is to run a command like

CMD /c C:\docs\myscript.cmd

The output of CMD can be redirected into a text file. Notice that where CMD /c is used, the EXIT command is not required.

The environment Variable %CMDCMDLINE% will expand into the original command line passed to CMD.EXE

Pausing a batch script

Execution of any batch script can be paused by pressing CTRL-S

This also works for pausing a single command such as a DIR listing

Pressing any key will resume the operation.

Stopping a batch script from running

Execution of any batch script can be stopped by pressing CTRL-C

If one batch file CALLs another batch file CTRL-C will exit both batch scripts.

If CMD /c is used to call one batch file from another then CTRL-C will cause only one of the batch scripts to terminate. (see also EXIT)

Long Commands

Under Windows NT, the command line is limited to 256 characters.

Under Windows 2000, the command line is limited to 2046 characters.

Under Windows XP, the command line is limited to 8190 characters.

For all OS's NTFS and FAT allows pathnames of up to 260 characters.

A workaround for the limited pathname length is to prefix \\?\

for example:


The above limits are often encountered when using long share names or drag and dropping files onto a batch script.

Full Screen

The key combination ALT and ENTER will switch a CMD window to full screen mode.

press ALT and ENTER again to return to a normal Window.

Command Extensions

Much of the functionality of CMD.exe can be disabled - this will affect all the internal commands, Command Extensions are enabled by default. This is controlled by setting a value in the registry: HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\EnableExtensions Alternatively under Win XP you can run CMD /e:on or CMD /e:off

"Those who can command themselves, command others" - Hazlitt