The Windows Command Processor is one of the long time surviving features in Windows Vista. It essentially delivers a window designed to mimic the old MS-DOS display for managing command-line instructions, according to Microsoft. Via cmd users can not only work with MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) commands, but also have an additional range of options available.
cmd in this regard is a viable alternative to using the graphical user interface in Windows Vista. Command prompt will enable you to perform all the functions associated with a Vista GUI such as Windows Aero, from navigating to searching, to creating directories, setting up a network connection, to deleting files and folders etc. All with text based commands. This is one of the reasons why cmd is regarded as a tool preferred by advanced users.
There are a variety of ways to open a command prompt window. Windows XP users are probably most used to typing cmd in the Run dialog box. Doing this will of course launch command prompt ion Windows Vista. All you have to do is press the Windows key and R to access Run. Additionally you can navigate to Start Menu, Programs, Accessories and Command Prompt or to the shortcut in the %SystemRoot%System32 folder.
One important thing to keep in mind is that each command prompt window you launch is connected to its own session. Launching another cmd will result in a secondary session, completely independent from the first. The sessions run isolated from each other and potential issues will not reverberate across multiple running instances. Another way to open cmd is to simply type “start” in an already opened command prompt window and hit enter. In this manner you can launch as many cmd sessions as you want and handle them separately.
In Windows Vista cmd is subject to the limitations of the User Account Control. This means that the tasks requiring elevation will not be completed through commands entered into a command prompt window launched with standard user privileges. This is why it is simply healthy behavior to enter cmd in the search box under the Start Menu and either press Ctrl + Shift + Enter, or right click the highlighted result and select Run as administrator.
One last example of how you can open command prompt is to hold the Shift key pressed down while you right click a file or a folder. Selecting Open Command Window Here will launch a cmd session from the respective location as opposite to the %SystemRoot%System32 or %UserProfi le% folders.
But Black Is Not My Thing… Don’t You Have a cmd in Pink? Yes, like most other features in Windows Vista, Command Prompt is customizable. The first thing that you are going to notice is the fact that you are not happy with the default real estate space of the window. This is easily adjustable and you can do it all in accordance to the visual references on your desktop. Launch cmd and simply personalize the window to the dimension you want. Then right-click the Taskbar item and select Properties. Make your way to the Layout tab and simply hit OK. In this manner all future command prompt windows will open to the new size specifications.
Of course, you can also modify the size by altering the sizes of the Screen Buffer and the Window. You will observe that the two are connected and that the size of the Screen Buffer predetermines the Window dimension. The default location where cmd sessions will open is also adjustable if you uncheck “Let system position window” and enter your preferred coordinates.
And since it was the gray on black that bothered you so much, in the Colors tab you can modify the settings for Screen Text, Screen Background, Popup Text and Popup Background. Not happy with the selection provided by Windows Vista? Then mix your own colors in the RGB space on the top right by entering the values you desire. The font used for commands can also be personalized, but with little flexibility. There are the Raster Fonts and Lucida Console and you can also change the font size, but that is about it.
The Cursor Size can be set to Small, Medium or Large and you can also manage the Command History. The Buffer Size determines the volume of commands to have per history, while the Number of Buffers is correlated with how many command history buffers to keep. By default cmd will run in Insert Mode. This means that you will only be able to insert commands at the position of the cursor. QuickEdit Mode delivers increased flexibility when it comes to copying and pasting text in and out of the command prompt window.
Paste Damn You! Paste!!! While running only in Insert Mode copying and pasting test in a command prompt window is not as simple as with the graphical user interface in Windows Vista. But once you hit QuickEdit Mode… all you have to do is remember that by Right clicking in the window you actually paste copied text. The left mouse button can be used to simultaneously select and copy text from cmd. From outside the cmd you can copy any amount of text and paste it in the window via a right click.
You will also notice that in the cmd’ contextual menu accessible through right clicking the window bar, you have an Edit option that permits you to Mark, Copy, Paste, Select All, Find and Scroll. If you are not big fans of the QuickEdit Mode then this is the way to go for you.
Command Me… One of the reasons why cmd is perceived as a tool for advanced users is the fact that it is not exactly intuitive. When first opening the Windows Command Processor users are faced with a black background and some superficial information related to the Widows version they are running along with the location where the command prompt window was launched and a scary blinking cursor. The first thing that comes to mind? HELP!
And that’s right. Just enter HELP and press enter. And you will be presented with a consistent list of commands available… at your fingertips. Now it all gets so much easier. However, the selection presented by the cmd is limited. Microsoft has a more complete list with commands online in the Command-line reference A-Z. However, these are not Vista exclusive. Some of them have indeed managed to survive into the Redmond company’s latest operating system, but some have been discarded along the way.
It does not matter. Before using any of the commands first make sure to understand its results and the parameters associated with it. In order to do so you have two options available. You can enter “help command” or “command /?”. Both will produce a description of the command you want to use with the adjacent options. Microsoft also provides a guide to the cmd syntax.
Basic Command Line Navigation: You wouldn’t expect to be able to navigate in a text based interface, but the fact of the matter is that you can. cmd permits you to make your way through the various commands entered and to comb the history. Since all commands are stores in history the up and down arrow keys will display previous items and respectively the next example. Using Page Up and Page Down, you can move as far back as the very first command entered or to the last one. However, the best solution in the case of multiple commands is to press F7. It will bring up a scrollable pop-up box of the commands history where items will be more easy to identify and reuse.
For the actual text, you can use the Left and Right Arrows, along with the Home and End keys and combinations such as Ctrl+Left Arrow and Ctrl+Right Arrow to make your way across lines. Hitting Esc will remove the command displayed at that time and by pressing Alt + F7 you will erase the entire history.
Microsoft, Windows Vista, Command Processor, CMD, Knowledgebase