Want to be a Windows power user? Looking for tips and tricks to make your life administering laptops, desktops and servers easier?
Never fear! Read on for my top 5 Command Prompt utilities for administrators and home users alike!
1.) Access previously used commands in the command prompt window, and auto-complete command paths
This one is simple, but has saved me I don’t even know how much time over the years. You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to cycle through commands you’ve previously typed; for instance, say you’ve run a ping command, and you’ve made changes to your wireless router, so you want to ping that same IP again. Instead of typing in the command, you can use the UP arrow key on your keyboard and the command will show up on your current prompt!
Also, the command prompt will attempt to auto-complete the path you are trying to navigate to. For example, say you are trying to navigate to C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\1033
Type the first part of the command, CD for Change Directory, then C:\ to show which drive. Then press Tab on your keyboard, and keep pressing it until it shows Program Files (x86). Type a slash \, then press Tab again, and it will start scrolling through the subfolders. Much easier than typing, especially if you don’t remember the exact path off the top of your head!
2.) Open Command Prompt from any location
Somewhat of a follow-up to the above, there’s a way around using the CD or chdir command to navigate to a location! It can get frustrating to have to constantly use the command to get to the right directory you want to work from.
Let’s say you’ve used Windows Explorer to navigate to the location you need. You can simply hold down the SHIFT key on your keyboard and right-click the mouse anywhere in the window. Once the context menu opens, you’ll see an option that’s not there when you don’t hold down shift – the one called “Open Command Prompt Window Here”.
Click on that, and a command prompt window will open already navigated to that directory!
3.) Use PING to check network connectivity
The PING command is useful to check network connectivity. When you enter a remote computer’s IP Address, or a web address, the ping command will show if the destination address responded, and how long it took to do so. Pinging a computer that is pretty much guaranteed to be online – like www.google.com – is a good way to check if it’s your computer that is dropping network connections, or the particular server or computer you are trying to reach.
However, you’ll notice that it only tries a ping 4 times before stopping. While this is useful for a spot check, what if you want to determine if you’re having more long term issues?
For that, there is a -t command that can be used to remove the timeout on the ping. When PING <address> -T is used, it will keep attempting to ping the entered address until you press Ctrl+C on the keyboard or close the command prompt window.
4.) Use IPCONFIG to view important network information
Need to know what your computer’s IP Address is? What your DNS information is? How about if you’re having network connectivity issues and want to reset your connection?
Type IPCONFIG /ALL, and the command prompt window will list all your important IP information for easy reference!
If you want to reset your network connection, type IPCONFIG /RELEASE, wait until it completes, then type IPCONFIG /RENEW. Note: If you are using a fixed, static IP, your IP address will be the same; otherwise, you’ll likely end up with a new one.
Having trouble resolving websites? Try using IPCONFIG /FLUSHDNS to clear your DNS cache. I’ve walked people through this over the phone in order to restore their web browsing quickly and easily.
5.) Watch Star Wars Episode 1 in your command prompt window!
Okay, so this might not be the best use of your time, nor does it really count as a power user trick – but just think how impressed your friends will be when you show it to them!
Execute the command TELNET TOWEL.BLINKENLIGHTS.NL in your command prompt window, and you will be treated to the full, ASCII version of Star Wars right then.
Note: TELNET is not enabled by default in most Windows versions. Microsoft TechNet has installation instructions, or if you would prefer not to enable TELNET, you can watch the animation here instead.