Windows command prompt: CMD commands explained

Most IT experts and Linux users, in addition to computer users who work with MS-DOS, are relatively familiar with the command line and its corresponding commands. But a lot can be achieved with the command prompt in Windows, too. For this reason, we’ll explain what the command line is, how to open it, and which CMD commands there are for Windows.

Windows console commands have changed over time: in newer Windows versions, users no longer have access to some of the familiar commands. In the following, we’ll explain which CMD commands still work under Windows 10 so that you don’t have to tediously test which are still valid and which are outdated. Our overview tables describe the functions of the individual commands and specify under which Microsoft operating systems they’re effective.

How does a command line work?

The command line (also called the console or terminal) is a text-based interface within the operating system, that forwards commands from the user to the operating system. This makes it possible, for example, to organize files, start programs, or run other commands linked to the operating system, computer, or network.

In older operating systems (like MS-DOS), you had to work without a graphical user interface, and oftentimes even navigate without a mouse. Instead, you had to type in all commands – the directory structures were then displayed as plain text on the screen. But even after the switch to graphical operating systems, the command line remained text-based.

In general, the connection between operating system – regardless of whether graphical (GUI = graphical user interface) or text-based (CLI = command line interpreter) was condensed under the term “Shell.” The default command line interpreter for Windows is called CMD.EXE. In addition, however, there’s also the “PowerShell”: This offers more options than CMD.EXE. For example, automations can be created better with PowerShell. In this way, users can create script programs with the PowerShell scripting language.

Note

Many Windows console commands are based on batch files. This are usually text files (with the ending .bat or .cmd) that are run by the command line as batch processing. These files are generally created to perform routine work and start other programs.

How do you open the command prompt?

There are various options for accessing the command line in Windows. Technically speaking, the command line is the CMD.EXE program. This executable file should be found in the system directory of your Windows folder. (If you right-click on the file, Windows also gives you the option to start the program as an administrator – in case you have the access data for this.) To reach the program more quickly, you can use the search bar or the run menu. The latter is opened under Windows 7, 8, and 10 with the key combination Win + R. Then all you have to do is type “cmd” into the search field and press the OK button.

The command prompt has long had a fixed spot in the Windows start menu as well. Under Windows 7 and Windows 10, the program is found in the “System Tools” folder. With Windows 8, Microsoft replaced the start menu with a start screen. But the command prompt is also found via the apps here. Alternatively, Windows 8 as well as Windows 10 both offer the “Power User Tasks Menu.” You can open this with the key combination Win + X. In this way, you can find the command prompt in the normal execution as well as the administrator version.

How do you enter commands in the command prompt?

CMD functions via defined commands. These have to be entered correctly, otherwise the command prompt can’t run the task. The same goes for parameters that you link to the commands. Individual commands can be extended using options (such as arguments). These are generally given as a letter with a minus sign (-), plus sign (+), or slash (/). CMD also allows placeholders. For so-called wild cards, use an asterisk (*) or question mark (?). While the latter replaces a single character (i.e. letter, digit, or other character), the asterisk stands for any number of characters.

Note

In the command prompt and commands, you also frequently have to work with path specifications. You need these to navigate through your directories or specify exact positions in commands. For the input of a path, use the backslash (\).

Individual CMD commands can be combined with one another. Through a pipe, the output of the first command is interpreted as input for the following command. In the command prompt, commands are linked to one another with a vertical line (|). This line itself is called a pipe, but officially is known as a vertical bar. Vertical bars pass data from one command to the next:

  • CommandA | CommandB

There’s also the possibility of redirection: where the output of a command is directly forwarded to a file (>) or the content of a text file is understood as input for the command (<).

  • Command > File (output in file)
  • Command < File (input from file)

Finally, Windows command line commands can also be connected in such a way that they run directly after one other. This can be controlled via a relatively simple form (&), but also via two more complex variations. It’s also possible to only run the second command if the first was successful. Or, you can set up the exact opposite as well: The second command is only run if the first doesn’t work (||). Both options can even be combined so that there’s an either-or string of commands:

  • CommandA & CommandB (the second command is run directly after the first)
  • CommandA && CommandB (the second command is only run if the first was successful)
  • Command A || CommandB (the second command is only run if the first was not successful)
  • CommandA && CommandB || CommandC (the second command is only run if the first was successful, otherwise the third command is run)
Tip

Each command has its own syntax and individual options. So that you don’t have to memorize all of these, CMD offers a help command: Using help command or command /? you can obtain information about how to handle the command.

It’s also extremely helpful that the command prompt remembers your last entered CMD commands. Using the up and down arrow keys on the keyboard, you can recall your earlier entries. This also means, though, that you can’t use these keys to scroll through the CMD window. This is usually done with the mouse instead. But if you prefer to scroll using keys and are ready to give up the recall command function, you can alter the corresponding setting: right-click on the command prompt and enable the “Scrolling” option.

Command, file names or path specifications, as well as arguments, are separated from one another using spaces. It also usually doesn’t matter if you use upper- or lower-case letters. It’s only important in a few cases whether you write the parameter in upper- or lower-case (generally only when two different parameters are abbreviated with the same letter, and are only differentiated from one another through the case).

Windows CMD commands: an overview

There are almost 300 commands for Windows and its predecessor, MS-DOS. Over the decades, some commands have been kept around, some have only recently been added with newer versions of Windows, and others have been removed or replaced. In our comprehensive list, we explain what the different commands mean and on which Windows versions they run. This way, you can quickly look up whether the CMD commands that you know still function with Windows 10. To make it more clear, we’ve divided the Windows command prompt commands into four categories: basics, files, system, and network.

Note

The information on the functionality of various Windows versions should only be understood as orientation information. For the individual commands, it’s not only which Windows version you’re using that’s important, but also which edition (Home, Pro, Server). In some cases, you have to adjust certain settings beforehand so that the commands are effective. You also will need access rights as an administrator for some CMD commands.

Basics

CMD command Description Windows version  
bitsadmin Creates and monitors downloads and uploads. 10/8/7/Vista  
break Interrupts Ctrl + C checking in DOS, allowing you to stop processes in the old operating system. Only available for compatibility reasons in Windows. All Win/DOS  
call Calls a batch file within another batch file. The command has no effect if entered directly into CMD instead of in a batch file. All Win/DOS  
cd Displays the current directory and lets you switch to other directories. With the parameter /D plus drive and path specification, you can also switch drives. Use cd.. to switch to a higher directory (has the same function as the chdir command). All Win/DOS  
chcp Changes the current code page (character set table) or shows the page count of the current code page. All Win/DOS  
chdir Displays the current directory and lets you switch to other directories. With the parameter /D plus drive and path specification, you can also switch drives. Use chdir.. to switch to a higher directory (has the same function as the cd command). All Win/DOS  
choice Creates a selection list: typical example is the selection of yes (Y) or no (N), which is created with /C YN. With the parameter /M you can add an explanatory message for the user. All Win (not XP)/DOS  
clip Forwards the result of a command to the clipboard. For example, you can copy the directory structure (dir clip) or the content of a file (clip < filename) to the clipboard. 10/8/7/Vista
cls Clears the content of the screen. All Win/DOS  
cmd Starts CMD.EXE. 10/8/7/Vista/XP  
color Changes the background (first value) and text color (second value) of the command prompt. The color lies between 0 (black) and F (white). 10/8/7/Vista/XP  
command Starts CMD.COM. 32-bit/DOS  
date Displays the current date and allows you to change it. With the parameter /T the date is shown without the option to change. All Win/DOS  
debug Starts debug, a program that can test and modify programs within the command prompt. 32-bit/DOS  
dir Displays all folders and files within the current directory. You can restrict the output by attributes (/A), simplify the list (/B), or display all subdirectories and their files (/S). All Win/DOS  
doskey Creates macros, recalls commands, and edits command input. All Win/DOS  
dosshell Opens the DOS shell, a graphical file management tool. In Windows, the DOS shell is replaced by Windows Explorer. 95/DOS  
echo Displays a message and is mainly used within scripts and batch files. All Win/DOS  
edit Starts the MS-DOS editor, with which you can create text files. 32-bit/DOS  
edlin Creates and edits text files within the command prompt. 32-bit/DOS  
exit Ends CMD.EXE or CMD.COM. All Win/DOS  
fasthelp Displays helpful information about commands. DOS  
fastopen Writes the position of a program into a specified list, which is in the working memory and should accelerate the start of programs. 32-bit/DOS  
find Searches through a file or multiple files for a particular character sequence. If you only want to know how frequently the word or phrase occurs, use the /C parameter. With the extension /I the command ignores upper- and lower-case in the search. All Win/DOS  
findstr Finds character sequences in one or multiple files. It gives you more options when compared to the find command: you can search for files that contain various terms or with /C search for an exact word order. 10/8/7/Vista/XP  
forcedos Starts a program in the MS-DOS partial system, in case it’s not directly recognized by Windows XP as a DOS program. XP (32-bit)  
graftabl Enables the option to use extended characters of a specific code page in graphics mode. 32-bit/DOS  
graphics Starts a program that can print graphics. 32-bit/DOS  
help Displays help text for a specific command (you can also use the /? command). All Win/DOS  
kb16 Changes the country settings of the keyboard for DOS programs (only included in Windows for compatibility reasons. Replaces the old command keyb). 32-bit  
keyb Changes the country settings of the keyboard for DOS programs (only included in Windows for compatibility reasons. Replaced by kb16 in newer Windows versions). 98/95/DOS  
logoff Logs the user out of Windows. Also allows you to end sessions on servers. 10/8/7/Vista/XP  
lpq Displays the status of a printer queue for computers that use a “line Printer Daemon” (LPD). (To use the command in Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista, the LPD print service and the LPR port monitor have to be enabled first). All Win  
lpr Sends a file to a computer that uses a line printer daemon (LPD). To use the command in Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista, the LPD print service and LPR port monitor have to be enabled first. All Win  
md Creates a new directory on the specified path. If directories don’t already exist on the path, md creates them automatically (you can also use the mkdir command). All Win/DOS  
mkdir Creates a new directory on the specified path. If directories don’t already exist on the path, mkdir creates them automatically (you can also use the md command). All Win/DOS  
more Outputs the content of a file (for example, a text file) by the page. You can also use the command to split the output of another command into pages. All Win/DOS  
msg Sends a message to another user. You can write the username into the command or create files in which usernames are saved. The files can then be included in the command with @filename. 10/8/7/Vista/XP  
nlsfunc Provides country-specific information for language support. 32-bit/DOS  
ntbackup Runs backup services directly from the command line or as part of batch or script files. XP  
path Creates and displays the path for searching executable files. All Win/DOS  
pause Pauses execution in batch files and scripts. The user is then prompted in a message to continue by pressing a key. All Win/DOS  
popd Changes to the folder saved by the pushd command. The command is mainly part of batch files and scripts. 10/8/7/Vista  
print Prints a text file. The device to be used for printing has to be specified. All Win/DOS  
prompt Changes the display of the command prompt. All Win/DOS  
pushd Saves a specific path into a script or batch file. You can change to this directory with popd. 10/8/7/Vista/XP  
qbasic Starts qbasic, a program environment based on the BASIC programming language. 98/95/DOS  
rd Deletes a directory. This must not contain any files, even hidden ones. You can delete an entire directory tree with the /S parameter (you can also use the rmdir command). All Win/DOS  
rem Writes comments in batch and script files that aren’t taken into account when executing. All Win/DOS  
rmdir Deletes a directory. This must not contain any files, even hidden ones. You can delete an entire directory tree with the /S parameter (you can also use the rd command). All Win/DOS  
runas Allows a user to run commands with the rights of another user. For example, you can run a command as an administrator from a normal user account as long as you know the password. 10/8/7/Vista/XP  
scandisk Starts Microsoft ScanDisk. The program searches data carriers for errors. 98/95/DOS  
schtasks Sets the execution of specified programs and commands for a specified point in time. You can create, delete, change, and display all scheduled tasks. 10/8/7/Vista/XP  
set Displays environmental variables of CMD.EXE and lets you configure them. All Win/DOS  
shift Moves variables within batch files and scripts. All Win/DOS  
shutdown Shuts down the computer (/s), triggers a restart (/r), or logs the user out (/l). A graphical user interface is displayed if you enter the parameter /I as the first option in the command. 10/8/7/Vista/XP  
sort Lists out data (from a file or command) and outputs it again sorted – directly in the command prompt, in a new file, or in another output. All Win/DOS  
start Opens a new command prompt window in which you can run a specific program or command. All Win  
subst Assigns a drive letter to a path to create a virtual drive. All Win/DOS  
taskkill Ends one or more running tasks. You either have to specify the process ID (PID) or image name. 10/8/7/Vista  
tasklist Lists all running processes – also on remote computers, if desired. The process ID also has to be specified, which is required for the taskkill command, for example. 10/8/7/Vista/XP  
time Displays the current time and allows it to be changed. If the parameter /T is entered, the command prompt only shows the time and offers no option to directly change it. All Win/DOS  
timeout Stops a process for a specified time. The command Is used in batch files and scripts. If you use the /NOBREAK parameter, the command ignores any keyboard input. 10/8/7/Vista  
title Changes the title of the command prompt. Spaces are allowed, but not all special characters such as a slash, for example, because they may be interpreted as instructions for a parameter. All Win/DOS  
tree Graphically displays the directory structure of a drive or path. With the /F parameter, all files in the folders are also listed out. /A also ensures that only ASCII characters are used for the graphical representation. The command takes into account all subdirectories starting from the given path. If you don’t enter a path, the current folder is used as the output. All Win/DOS  
type Displays the content of a text file. All Win/DOS  
tzutil Displays the currently set time zone (/g) or changes it (/s). The parameter /l helps determine the valid time zones. 10/8/7  
ver Displays the current version number of Windows or MS-DOS. All Win/DOS  

Files

CMD command Description Windows version
append Sets the path in which files will be searched for. 32-bit/DOS
assoc Changes the program that’s linked with a particular file ending. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
attrib Changes attributes of specified files. With the parameter +R you can protect a file from changes. All Win/DOS
cipher Displays and changes the encryption status of files and directories on NTFS partitions. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
comp Compares the content of two files or two file sets. The results can be displayed as a decimal value (/D) or with ASCII characters (/A). 10/8/7/Vista/XP
compact Displays and changes the compression status of files and directories on NTFS partitions. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
copy Copies a file or multiple files to another location. It’s also possible to connect several files to one. You can use the asterisk as a wild card. All Win/DOS
cscript Runs scripts over the Microsoft Script Host. You can enable additional debugging with the /D option. All Win/DOS
del Deletes a file or multiple files. If you also want to delete all files from subfolders, you can do this with the /S parameter. Read-only files can be deleted with /F (you can also use the erase command). All Win/DOS
deltree Deletes a directory as well as all subdirectories and files within. 98/95/DOS
diantz Compresses files without any loss (command has the same function as makecab). 7/Vista/XP
diskcomp Compares the content of two disks. All Win (not 10)/DOS
diskcopy Copies the content of a disk to another. All Win (not 10)/DOS
endlocal Ends the valid range of changes to batch files or scripts. After the command, changes are applied to the entire system again (localization is started with setlocal). 10/8/7/Vista/XP
erase Function is the same as del. All Win/DOS
exe2bin Converts an EXE file to a BIN file. 32-bit
expand Extracts files and folders stored in CAB files. All Win (not 64-bit XP)/DOS
extrac32 Extracts files and folders stored in CAB files. The program is part of Internet Explorer, but can also be used in the command prompt. All Win
extract Extracts files and folders stored in CAB files (in new Windows versions use expand). 98/95
fc Compares two individual files or two sets of files with one another and displays the differences. All Win/DOS
for Sets a specific command that should be run for each individual file in a file set. This command is usually used in batch and script files. All Win/DOS
forfiles Selects one or more files and runs a command that refers to these files. Usually used for batch and script files. 10/8/7/Vista
ftype Specifies a program for opening a specific file type. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
goto Skips the execution within a batch program to a specific line (marker). All Win/DOS
if Represents a conditional statement and executes expressions within batch files only under certain conditions. Can be extended by not if commands are only not to be executed under certain conditions. All Win/DOS
makecab Compresses files without loss in CAB format (you can also use the diantz command). 10/8/7/Vista/XP
mklink Creates a symbolic link to a file. With /D you can also create connections to directories. Create a fixed connection instead of a symbolic connection with /H. 10/8/7/Vista
move Moves a file or multiple files from one directory to another. The command can also change the names of directories. By default, the command overwrites other files with the same name when moving files to the destination. To prevent this use the /-Y parameter. All Win/DOS
openfiles Displays and separates open system files and folders. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
recover Restores readable files that were on a defective data drive. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
ren Changes the name of a particular file. Directory and drive cannot be changed this way (or use the rename command). All Win/DOS
rename Function is the same as ren. All Win/DOS
replace Replaces the selected file or files with one or more other files. With /S files in subfolders are also replaced. With the addition /U files are only replaced if another version is more current. The parameter /A allows users to add new files to the target directory at the same time. This parameter is not compatible with /S and /U. All Win/DOS
robocopy Allows so-called robust file copying. This is an extended version of copy and xcopy. With robocopy it’s possible to successfully transfer data even if there are interruptions in the network. There are a total of 72 parameters with which the copy command can be modified. 10/8/7/Vista
rsm Manages media on removable storage devices. Is used in batch files and scripts to support programs that don’t use “Removable Storage API.” Vista/XP
setlocal Limits the valid range of changes to batch files or scripts. After the command, changes only apply to these files (localization is started with endlocal). 10/8/7/Vista/XP
share Installs file sharing and file locking. 32-bit/DOS
sxstrace Starts the WinSxs Tracing Utility, a tool for programming diagnostics. 10/8/7/Vista
takeown Restores administrator access rights to a file that have been lost when reassigning a user. 10/8/7/Vista
undelete Undoes the deletion of a file. DOS
verify When enabled, checks whether files are written correctly on a data drive. The check is disabled in the standard settings. All Win/DOS
where Finds files that match a particular search topic. The placeholders * and ? can be used within the topic. 10/8/7/Vista
xcopy Copies files and entire directory structures. In this way, the command offers various additional options. For example, it can be specified that only files younger than a specific date (/D) should be copied. It can also be specified that read-only files are overwritten (/R). All Win/DOS

System

CMD command Description Windows version
at Starts commands and programs at a particular time. With the parameter /every:date[,…] you can also set regular appointments. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
auditpol Displays current monitoring policies. 10/8/7/Vista
backup Creates backups of files. These can be recovered with restore (replaced by msbackup). DOS
bcdboot Creates and repairs start files. 10/8/7
bcdedit Allows users to make changes to start configuration data storage (the command is a new version of bootcfq). 10/8/7/Vista
bdehdcfg Prepares a hard drive for BitLocker Drive Encryption. 10/8/7
bootcfg Creates, edits, or displays the content of boot.ini (although it’s still included in the Windows 7 CMD, it has lost its function since boot.ini is no longer used for startup options, instead you should use bcdedit). 10/8/7/Vista/XP
bootsect Modifies the master boot code sot that it’s compatible with the Windows Boot Manager or NT Loader (can only be started via system restore in Windows 7 and Vista). 10/8/7/Vista
cacls Edits and displays the access control list. This sets access rights (outdated – replaced by icacls in newer Windows versions). 10/8/7/Vista/XP
chkdsk Checks and repairs (with the parameter /R) a data drive. All Win/DOS
chkntfs Changes or displays the data driver check at startup. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
cmdkey Can display (/list), create (/add), or delete (/delete) login information. 10/8/7/Vista
convert Converts partitions from FAT/FAT32 to NTFS. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
ctty Changes the standard input and output for the system. 98/95/DOS
dblspace Creates or configures compresses drives (a newer version of the command is called drvspace) .98/95/DOS
defrag Defragments all or only specified drives. Use /U to observe the progress. To get an evaluation statistic after the defragmentation, use the parameter /V. All Win/DOS
diskpart Manages, creates, and deletes partitions from the hard drive. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
diskperf Allows users to remotely control the disk performance counter. 10/8/7/Vista
diskraid Manages RAID systems. 10/8/7/Vista
dism Manages and integrates Windows images. 10/8/7
dispdiag Creates a file in the current directory in which you’ll find information about your display. 10/8/7/Vista
dosx Starts the DOS Protected Mode Interface, which allows MS-DOS programs more than 640 KB of RAM. Is only available to support older DOS programs. 32-Bit
driverquery Creates a list with all installed drivers. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
drvspace Creates or configures compressed drives. An older version of the command is called dblspace. 98/95/DOS
emm386 Provides DOS with more than 640 KB of RAM. 98/95/DOS
esentutl Manages databases within the extensible storage engine. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
eventcreate Creates an entry (ID and message) in an event log. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
eventtriggers Configures and displays event trigger. XP
fdisk Creates, deletes, and manages partitions on the hard drive. Use diskpart in newer Windows versions. 98/95/DOS
fltmc Allows users to manage and display filter drivers. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
fondue Installs additional Windows features. The command is an abbreviation for the underlying tool: Features on Demand User Experience Tool. 10/8
format Formats a drive to the file system specified by the user. All Win/DOS
fsutil Provides numerous features related to the file system, such as disk removal. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
hwrcomp Compiles self-created dictionaries for handwriting recognition. 10/8/7
hwrreg Installs a compiled dictionary for handwriting recognition. 10/8/7
icacls Edits and displays the access control list. This sets access rights. An outdated version of this command is cacls. 10/8/7/Vista
ktmutil Starts the kernel transaction manager. 10/8/7/Vista
label Changes or deletes a drive’s label. All Win/DOS
lh Loads a program into the high memory area (UMB) – has the same function as loadhigh. 98/95/DOS
licensingdiag Creates an XML and a CAB file that contain information on the Windows product license. 10/8
loadfix Ensures that a program is loaded and executed above the first 64 KB of RAM. 32-bit/DOS
loadhigh Has the same function as lh. 98/95/DOS
lock Locks a drive so that only a user-selected program can access it directly. 98/95
lodctr Updates all registry entries that have to do with performance indicators. All Win
logman Creates and manages event trace sessions and performance logs. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
manage-bde Configures drive encryption with BitLocker. Use -on to encrypt a drive. Use -off to decrypt it again and end BitLocker protection. 10/8/7
mem Displays information about the RAM and indicates which programs are currently loaded in it. 32-bit/DOS
memmaker Optimizes the RAM. 98/95/DOS
mode Configures system devices – primarily on the COM or LPT port. All Win/DOS
mofcomp Analyzes files in managed object format (MOF) and adds the classes and instances to the WMI repository. All Win
mountvol Creates and deletes mount points for drives and displays them. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
msav Starts Microsoft Antivirus. DOS
msbackup Starts Microsoft Backup (replaces backup and restores). DOS
mscdex Loads the CD-ROM support for MS-DOS. 98/95/DOS
msd Starts the program Microsoft Diagnostics, with which system information can be displayed. DOS
msiexec Starts the Windows installer, with which Windows can be installed and configured. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
muiunattend Starts an automatic setup process for the multilingual user interface (MUI). 10/8/7/Vista
netcfg Installs the minimal operating system Microsoft Windows PE. 10/8/7/Vista
ocsetup Installs additional Windows functions. 8/7/Vista
pentnt Recognizes floating point division errors in Pentium chips, starts floating point emulation, and disables floating point hardware. XP
pkgmgr Installs, uninstalls, and configures packages and functions for Windows. 10/8/7/Vista
pnpunattend Automates the installation of device drivers. 10
pnputil Installs plug-and-play devices from the command prompt. 10/8/7/Vista
power Uses the IDLE status of a processor to reduce energy consumption. 98/95/DOS
powercfg Allows the user to change the computer’s energy options and control energy conservation plans. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
pwlauncher Configures the startup options for Windows To Go with which you can boot Windows from a USB drive. 10/8
qprocess Provides information on running processes. 10/8/7/Vista
query Displays the status of a particular service. 10/8/7/Vista
quser Provides information on the currently logged-in users. 10/8/7/Vista
reagentc Configures the Windows recovery environment, with which you can repair the installation of the operating system. 10/8/7
recimg Creates a user-defined Windows image to restore the system. 8
reg Manages the registry of the command prompt. Users can create new keys (reg add) or delete them (reg delete). 10/8/7/Vista/XP
regini Changes registry authorizations. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
register-cimprovider Registers a common information model provider (CIM provider) in Windows. 10/8
regsvr32 Registers a DLL file in the registry. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
relog Creates new performance indicator protocols from the data in the existing protocols. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
repair-bde Repairs and decrypts defective drives that are encrypted with BitLocker. The files should be saved on a replacement drive. 10/8/7
reset Resets a session. You can also use the rwinsta command. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
restore Restores backups that were created with the backup command (replaced by msbackup). DOS
rwinsta Command has the same function as reset. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
sc Manages services by connecting to the Service Controller. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
scanreg Repairs the registry and allows a backup to be created of it. 98/95
sdbinst Applies user-defined database files (SDB). 10/8/7/Vista/XP
secedit Analyzes the security settings by comparing the current configurations with templates. Settings can also be configured, imported, and exported with this command. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
setver Sets a version number of MS-DOS that’s forwarded to a program – even if it doesn’t match the actual version. 32-bit/DOS
setx Creates or changes environmental variable in the user of system environment. 10/8/7/Vista
sfc Checks all important and protected system files. Incorrect versions are replaced by correct ones. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
smartdrv Starts and manages the hard drive cache program SMARTDrive. 98/95/DOS
sys Copies system files from MS-DOS and the command interpreter to another hard drive. This makes it bootable. 98/95/DOS
systeminfo Displays information about the Windows installation, including all installed service packages. The information can be obtained from the local system as well as a remote computer. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
tpmvscmgr Creates and deletes TPM virtual smart cards. These are virtual smartcards encrypted on the basis of the Trusted Platform Model. 10/8
tracerpt Processes logs or real-time data generated during the tracing of computer programs. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
typeperf Displays performance counter data or writes it into a file. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
unformat Undoes the drive formatting done by the format command. DOS
unlock Unlocks a drive that was locked with the lock command. 98/95
unlodctr Deletes names as well as descriptions for extensible performance counters in the Windows registry. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
vaultcmd Creates, deletes, and displays saved registration information. 10/8/7
vol Displays the label and serial number of a drive. All Win/DOS
vsafe Starts the antivirus software VSafe. DOS
vssadmin Manages the volume shadow copy services that can be used to store different versions (snapshots) of drives. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
wbadmin Creates backups of the operating system and delivers information to the created backup copies. 10/8/7/Vista
wevtutil Manages event logs and event log files. 10/8/7/Vista
whoami Provides information about the current user. With the /GROUP parameter you can obtain additional information about group membership. 10/8/7/Vista
winmgmt Manages WMI repositories. Backups (/backup) are possible with the command, for example. All Win
winsat Evaluates various system factors – for example, processor performance or graphical capabilities. 10/8/7/Vista
wmic Starts the Windows Management Instrumentation in the command prompt. Various Windows settings can be changed here – both locally and on remote computers. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
xwizard Registers Windows data in the form of XML files. 10/8/7

Network

CMD command Description Windows version
arp Displays and edits entries in the Address Resolution Protocol cache. All Win
atmadm Displays information on asynchronous transfer mode (ATM). XP
certreq Manages and creates certificate registration requirements for certification authorities. 10/8/7/Vista
certutil Manages services related to certificate authentication. 10/8/7/Vista
change Changes the settings of a terminal server and can be used together with the parameters logon, port, or user (replaces the commands chglogon, chgport, and chgusr). 10/8/7/Vista
checknetisolation Checks the network capability of apps from the Windows Store. 10/8
chglogon Enables, disables, or adjusts logins for terminal server sessions. 10/8/7/Vista
chgport Displays or changes the COM pin assignment of terminal servers for DOS compatibility. 10/8/7/Vista
chgusr Changes the installation mode of a terminal server. 10/8/7/Vista
cmstp Installs or uninstalls profiles for the connection manager. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
djoin Creates a new computer account in the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). 10/8/7/Vista
finger Provides information about users on remote devices using the Finger service. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
ftp Transfers data to an FTP server or from this to a PC. The command offers additional options: For example, you can activate debugging with -d. All Win/DOS
getmac Displays the MAC address of all network adapters. The format of the output (Table, List, CSV) is set with /FO. With /S you can use the command on remote systems as well. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
gpresult Displays information on the Group Policy. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
gpupdate Updates information on the Group Policy. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
hostname Outputs the name of the current host. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
interlnk Connects two computers via serial or parallel connection to share files or printers. DOS
intersvr Starts an interlnk server and transfers data from one computer to another via serial or parallel connection. DOS
ipconfig Provides information on the IP of each used network adapter. The command can also be used to release (/release) or renew (/renew) addresses. With /flushdns you can clear the DNS cache. All Win/DOS
ipxroute Changes and displays information on the IPX routing tables. XP
irftp Transfers files via infrared connection, if one is available. 10/8/7/Vista
iscsicli Manages iSCSI, which enables connections via the SCSI protocol. 10/8/7/Vista
klist Displays all tickets authenticated by the Kerberos service. Also enables the command to delete tickets (purge). 10/8/7
ksetup Configures a connection to a Kerberos server. 10/8/7
mount Enables network sharing under the Network File System. (To use the command, enable NFS services). 7/Vista
mrinfo Provides information on the router. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
nbtstat Displays statistics and information on the TCP/IP connections on remote computers. 10
net Configures and displays network settings. All Win
net1 Configures and displays network settings (it’s recommended to use net instead; the net1 command is only intended as a temporary solution for a Y2K problem). 10/8/7/Vista/XP
netsh Starts the network shell, which allows for network settings to be changed on local and remote computers. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
netstat Displays statistics and information on TCP/IP connections on the local computer. All Win
nfsadmin Manages NFS servers and clients (to be able to use the command, you first have to enable NFS services in Windows). 7/Vista
nltest Displays information related to secure channels in the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) and tests the connections. 10/8/7
nslookup Sends a DNS query to a specific IP or host name on the preconfigured DNS server. You can also specify another DNS server. 10
ntsd Runs debugging. XP
pathping Provides information on forwarding and package loss when sending over a network and also specifies the latency. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
ping Sends an internet control message protocol echo request to a specific host to check if it’s accessible. The duration of the echo can also be specified. Ping signals can be sent continuously with -t. To display statistics on this action, press Ctrl + Brk. Cancel the process with Ctrl + C. All Win
qappsrv Displays all available remote computers in the network. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
qwinsta Displays information on the open remote desktop sessions. 10/8/7/Vista
rasautou Manages autodial addresses. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
rasdial Starts and ends network connections for Microsoft clients. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
rcp Copies files from a Windows computer to a server that’s running a RSDH daemon, and vice versa. 7/Vista/XP
rdpsign Signs a remote desktop protocol file (RDP file). 10/7
rexec Runs commands on a remote computer that’s running a Rexec daemon. Vista/XP
route Displays routing tables and makes it possible to change, add, or delete entries. All Win
rpcinfo Sends a remote procedure call (RPC) to an RPC server. The result displays the programs on the remote computer (to use the command, NFS services on Windows have to be enabled first). 7/Vista
rpcping Sends a ping via remote procedure call (RPC) and checks whether a connection is possible. 10/8/7/Vista
rsh Runs commands on remote computers that are running the Unix program Remote Shell (RSH). 7/Vista/XP
setspn Creates, deletes, and changes SPNs. These are unique identifiers for services on a network that uses Kerberos authentication. 10/8/7
shadow Monitors a session on a remote computer. The user can also actively control the remote computer. 7/Vista/XP
showmount Provides information on NFS file systems (to use the command, you first have to activate NFS services in Windows). 7/Vista
tcmsetup Enables or disables a client for the Telephony Application Programming Interface (TAPI), a programming interface for telephone applications. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
telnet Enables communication with another computer that also uses the telnet protocol. All Win/DOS
tftp Enables a file exchange between the local computer and a server that supports the Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP). To use the command, the TFTP client first needs to be enabled in the system settings. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
tlntadmn Manages a telnet server on a local or remote computer (to be able to use the command, the telnet server functions first have to be enabled in the system settings). 8/7/Vista/XP
tracert Tracks a data package on the way through the network to a server. It doesn’t only check whether the package arrives and how long it takes, but also records how many hops the package makes on the way. All packages have a set time-to-live (TTL), which is increased gradually with the command. All Win
tscon Connects the current local user session with a session on a remote computer. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
tsdiscon Ends the connection between a local user session and a session on a remote computer. 10/8/7/VistaXP
tskill Ends a process on a remote computer. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
tsshutdn Shuts down or restarts a remote terminal server. If the target computer supports it, the entire computer can be turned off in this way. XP
umount Removes mounted network file system drives. To use the command, the NFS functions first have to be enabled in the system settings. 7/Vista
w32tm Manages the Windows time service that synchronizes dates and times on all computers that share an AD DS domain. 10/8/7/Vista/XP
waitfor Sends or waits on a single. If the signal is only supposed to be sent to specified computers in a domain instead of all, use the /S parameter. Computers within a network are synchronized with one another through this command. 10/8/7/Vista
wecutil Creates and managements subscriptions for events. These are forwarded from remote event sources that support the WS management protocol. 10/8/7/Vista
winrm Manages secure connections between local and remote computers via the WS management protocol. 10/8/7/Vista
winrs Enables access to the command line of a remote computer via a secure connection to implement changes. If you want to disable encryption, use -un. 10/8/7/Vista
wsmanhttpconfig Manages functions of the Windows Remote Management (winrm). 10/8/7/Vista
Tip

At this point, Windows knows three different commands for copying files and directories. But the range of functions of the individual Windows CMD commands have been partially extended: For example, xcopy is stronger than copy, and robocopy in turn has a larger scope than xcopy. If you’re using a newer version of Windows (Vista or later), it’s best to use the robocopy command in the command prompt.