In the beginning, all we had was the command line. Then as Windows matured, the need to access that throwback interface waned.
That doesn’t mean the Command Prompt is completely useless. In fact, recent versions of Windows (go.pcworld.com/rvw) have introduced new commands. And while Windows 10’s graphical interface is generally straightforward to use, several features are still faster to execute through that last tie to MS-DOS. The same goes for accessing a few pieces of useful information, too.
We’ve listed our top Command Prompt commands below, but don’t take this list as the complete lineup of useful commands. If you like to kick it old-school, there are still plenty worth your time. For most people, though, these six will add efficiency to your regular routine without requiring excessive time in a command line interface.
To open the Command Prompt, tap the Windows key, then enter cmd.
On its own, the echo command (go.pcworld. com/ech) has little relevance for the overwhelming majority of Windows users. (The PCWorld staff included.) But we like using one specific application of it: echo off | clip. Entering this string into the Command Prompt clears the last item on your Clipboard—helpful when you’ve copied sensitive information and are done with it. (This command won’t clear your full Clipboard history though, so you’ll have to use Windows 10’s Clipboard settings to do that. You can also turn off history while you’re in that menu.)
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