Working with the command line interface
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Working with the Command- Line Interface. Chapter 14. Overview. In this chapter, you will learn to Explain the operation of the command-line interface Execute fundamental commands from the command line Manipulate files and folders from the command line. Historical/Conceptual.

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Overview l.jpg

  • In this chapter, you will learn to

    • Explain the operation of the command-line interface

    • Execute fundamental commands from the command line

    • Manipulate files and folders from the command line

Historical conceptual l.jpg

  • IBM invented the PC in the late ’70s but needed an operating system

    • Digital Research had an OS but turned them down

    • IBM went to a small company (Bill Gates at Microsoft) that had created BASIC

    • Microsoft had never written an OS but accepted the challenge

      • Gates found an OS called Quick-and-Dirty-Operating-System (QDOS) and purchased it from the person who wrote it

      • Microsoft released it as MS-DOS V 1.1 (Microsoft Disk Operating System)

      • MS-DOS 6.22 ultimately released in 1994

      • DOS used a command-line interface

Deciphering the command line interface l.jpg

IT Technician

CompTIA A+Technician

Deciphering the Command-Line Interface

Command line interface cli l.jpg
Command-Line Interface (CLI)

  • How does a command-line interface work?

    • Begins with a prompt indicating the computer is ready to do something

    • Type in a command and press ENTER

    • The command is executed

    • A new prompt is displayed—ready for the next command

    • CLI executes commands like the Windows GUI

      • In CLI, type the command and press ENTER

      • In GUI, point and click to execute commands

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Accessing the Command Line

  • In Windows 2000 use the Run dialog box

    • Start | Run

    • Type cmd

  • You may also access the command line through the Start | All Programs menu

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The Command Prompt

  • The command prompt is always focused on a specific folder

    • Any commands operate on the files and folders in the folder in which you are focused

    • You must first focus on the drive and folder where you want to work

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Filenames and File Formats

  • Each program or piece of data is stored as a file on the drive

  • Filenames have two parts

    • Filename

      • In DOS, up to 8 characters long

    • Extension

      • In DOS, up to 3 characters long

      • Optional

  • The filename and extension are separated by a dot

    • Called the 8.3 naming system

  • These characters may not be used

    / \ [ ] | ÷ + = ; , * ?

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Filenames and Formats

  • Windows does not restrict the filename to 8.3 (can be up 255 characters)

    • To be backward-compatible with DOS you need to follow the 8.3 standard

    • Windows creates two filenames for every file to ensure backward-compatibility

  • The extension tells the computer the type of file

    • .exe, .doc, .xls

File formats l.jpg
File Formats

  • All files written in binary format

  • American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) used for text

    • Universal file format

    • Defines 256 8-bit characters

  • Unicode

    • Uses 16-bit code to cover every character for the most common languages

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Drives and Folders

  • At boot, Windows assigns partitions and a drive letter

    • Floppy drives are usually assigned A: or B:

    • Hard drive partitions may be assigned C: to Z:

    • CD-ROM drives are named after hard drives

  • Windows uses a hierarchical directory tree

    • Files are put into groups called folders

      • In DOS we call folders directories

    • The root directory is at the beginning of the hierarchical structure with folders underneath

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Folders and Files

  • Folders and files must be unique

    • Can’t be the same name in the same folder

  • C:\ represents the root directory of C

  • To describe a subfolder, add the name of the folder

    • C:\TEST

  • The location of a file is called the path

    • The path of C:\test\file.txt is C:\test

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Structure: Syntax and Switches

  • The command line requires the exact syntax for each command

  • Type the name of the command and desired or allowed switches

    • Switches modify the behavior of the command

    • Multiple switches may be allowable

    • DIR /W /PDisplays the directory in wide mode and one page at a time

Slide17 l.jpg

  • Help with any command is readily available in one of three ways

    • HELP gives a one-line description of each command

    • HELP commandgives specific help for the command

    • Command /? gives specific help for the command

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DIR Command

  • The DIR command lists the contents of a particular directory

    • The DIR/W command lists only the filenames

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Directories: CD Command

  • The CD (or CHDIR) command is used to change the focus to a different directory

  • The CD\ command is used to return to the root directory

  • CD .. Goes up one directory

  • To switch between drives, type the drive letter followed by a colon

    • C:

    • D:

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Making and Removing Directories

  • The MD (or MKDIR) command is used for creating a directory

  • The DEL command is used for deleting files, and the RD (RMDIR) command is used for deleting directories and subdirectories

  • The DELTREE command is used for deleting directories containing files and subdirectories

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Running a Program

To run a program:

  • Change the DOS focus to the directory where the program is stored

    CD C:\Program Files\My Program

  • Type the filename with or without its extension and press ENTER


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Working with Files

  • Attributes (H, R, S, A) are special values assigned to a file

    • Hidden: hides the file

    • Read-only: protects a file from being deleted or modified

    • System: identifies system files

    • Archive: identifies files that have not been backed up

  • The ATTRIB.EXE program is used to inspect and change file attributes

Attrib l.jpg

  • Attrib can be used to change the attributes

    • Use + to add attribute

    • Use – to remove attribute

      Attrib +R AILOG.TXT Makes it read only

      Attrib –H AILOG.TXT Makes it no longer hidden

Working with files26 l.jpg
Working with Files


  • Wildcards are special characters that enable commands to act on more than one file at a time

  • The * represents any number of characters

  • The ? represents a single character

    DIR *.TXT Lists all files that end in .TXT

    DIR *.?XT Lists all files that end in XT

Working with files27 l.jpg
Working with Files

  • REN command is used to rename files

  • DEL and ERASE commands are used to delete files

  • COPY command is used for making a copy of the file in a new location

  • MOVE command is used for moving the file to a new location

  • XCOPY command is used for working with multiple directories

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Mike’s Five-Step COPY/MOVE Process

  • Point the command prompt to the directory containing the files to be copied or moved

    C:\> CD \DOCS

    2. Type COPY or MOVE and a space


    3. Type the name(s) of the file(s) to be copied/moved and a space

    C:\DOCS> COPY *.doc

    4. Type the path of the new location for the files

    C:\DOCS> COPY *.doc c:\Steam

    5. Press ENTER

Working with batch files l.jpg
Working with Batch Files

  • Batch files are text files that store a series of commands

    • One command on each line

    • Batch files use the .BAT extension

    • Batch files may be edited with any text editor

      • Notepad

      • EDIT

    • Batch files get their own type of icon

Slide30 l.jpg

  • EDIT is a command-line command that starts a basic text editor

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Creating a Batch File

  • Using EDIT, type in some commands on their own line (such as cd:\ and Dir)

  • Save the file with a .BAT extension

    • C:\test.bat

  • Launch a command prompt and run the batch file

    C:\> CD \

    C:\> Test.bat

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Additional Commands

  • Some additional commands are

    • VER shows the current version of Windows

    • ECHO tells the batch file to put text on the screen

    • TYPE displays the contents of a batch file on the screen

    • SET display settings that Windows has loaded by default

Echo command l.jpg
ECHO Command

  • ECHO will display text on the screen

  • ECHO OFF turns off the display of text on the screen

  • @ at the beginning of a line prevents displaying the command, but not the result of the command

  • @ECHO OFF is frequently used in batch files to “clean up” the appearance when the batch file is run

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SET and PATH Commands

  • SET will display the list of settings that Windows loads by default

  • Programs (and batch files) are run from the location where the prompt is

    • If the program is not located in the current folder, you receive an error message

    • To tell your command to look in other places, use the PATH command

      • PATH by itself lists the current list of places to look for a program

      • PATH= location; location; location; … will add locations

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Using Special Keys

  • F1 function key brings back the previous command one letter at a time

  • F3 function key brings back the entire command at once

  • The DOSKEY command stores a list of all previously typed commands and can be accessed by using the up arrow key

    • Type DOSKEY

    • Windows XP/2000 automatically starts the program

Compact command l.jpg


    • Displays or alters the compression state of files

    • compact /c

Cipher command l.jpg
CIPHER Command


    • Displays or alters the encryption state of files

    • /e specifies encryption operation

    • /a says to apply it to the files as well as the directory