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How to Access a Command Prompt

MS-DOS stands for Microsoft Disk Operating System, which is the backbone of the Windows operating system: a command prompt. It is completely text based (that is, it doesn’t use a mouse, but only the keyboard), it has no graphics, save for a black screen and simple text, and can be used to edit features that otherwise can’t be edited from anywhere else. Before there was windows, all of Microsoft’s computers ran programs and applications from the command prompt, which is why it is still widely used today, and included in all of the Windows versions.

To get to the command prompt, simply click the “start” button (in Windows Vista and 7, it is the Windows flag), navigate to the “accessories” folder in “All Programs,” and the command prompt icon should be next to the calculator program. When you click on it, a black window will pop up with a blinking white cursor, where you type in the commands of whatever it was you were trying to do with it.

If you are using Windows Vista or 7, there should be a search bar at the bottom of the start menu, where you could type in “cmd” if you are having trouble finding the command prompt icon in accessories. Similarly, if you are using Windows XP, you can click “Run…” on the start menu and type in “cmd.exe”.

If you want a list of most of the functions the prompt can perform, type “help”, and it will display a rather lengthy list of those commands. If you type in the command and “help” after that command, then the prompt will display the help file for that particular command. For example, typing in “copy help” will display the correct way to perform the copy function.

If your computer is having trouble functioning properly after it has logged into your user account, there is a way to access command prompt from the computer’s start-up process:
Before the loading screen shows up when you are booting the computer, push the f8 key to give you the safe mode start up options. If you want command prompt to start as soon as the computer is finished booting up, select “Safe mode with command prompt”. This will load your computer with the minimal components necessary to perform maintenance with the command prompt, which is useful for flushing out viruses and general tweaking.

Lastly, it is important to note that whenever typing in a file directory, if there is ever the need to type in a space, and there usually is, make sure to replace the space with an underscore (_); a space indicates a break, telling the prompt you want to put in another diractory or a command.

I hope this helps!

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