My favourite Windows Explorer and Command Prompt Usage Tips

These are tips that you might already be using but definitely there would be one thing or the other that you would not have known. As far as I’m concerned most of these are tips that I use almost daily . That much for the usability. Most of this stuff will work from Windows 95 through Windows NT-4,Windows 98,Windows 2000,Windows Millennium, Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Explorer, Start Menu Run and Keyboard Shortcut Tips

  1. Press the Alt key  and look for the underlined characters( known as accelerators). You can activate menu’s or controls by pressing the accelerator key.In older versions of Windows it was not necessary to press the Alt Key for viewing the accelerator key underlines.
  2. When you create or check the properties of a shortcut, you find the Start in option.This can help in changing the default open dialog in most old windows applications.
  3. Start applications from Run.And there are 2 easy ways to reach Run
    i) Ctrl+Esc R
    ii) Win+R
    Common programs that I use through run
    cmd, calc, wordpad, mspaint, regedit, winword, excel, conf (Netmeeting)
    Tech Note:
    Its not case sensitive
    This works when an entry is added to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionApp Paths key of registry
    Checkout the above key to know what all applications are available through Run
  4. Type the following at the Run prompt to go to the corresponding Windows Special Folders
    Temp folder – %temp%
    User Profile Folder – %userprofile%
    Windows Folder     – %windir%

    Want to add more ? Just add an environment variable (Control panel – System – Advanced – Settings – New – Type whatever name you want for variable name and the type the full path in Variable Value and click OK.

  5. Start Control Panel applets and MMC applets by typing it in Run. Some of my favourites are listed below

    Device Manager devmgmt.msc
    Service Control Manager services.msc
    Event Viewer eventvwr.msc
    User Manger lusrmgr.msc
    Internet Properties inetcpl.cpl
    Disk management diskmgmt.msc
    Firewall firewall.cpl
    Add Remove Programs appwiz.cpl
    Bluetooth Configuration btcpl.cpl

    Want to find it all ? You can use WIN+F and search for *.cpl,*.msc in the windows folder.

  6. Optimise your system for best Performance by (Control panel – System – Advanced – Settings in Performance) setting the option for Best performance
  7. To delete files bypassing the Recycle Bin keep the shift key pressed during deletion process.
  8. Shift-Close will close all folders, under a folder path, ie suppose you have C:test, C:testdir1 and c:testdir1dir2 open as separate windows in explorer closing   c:testdir1dir2  will close all the open windows, including C:test, C:testdir1
  9. The most used explorer/windows app  keyboard shortcuts

    Cut Ctrl-X or Shift-Delete
    Copy Ctrl-C or Ctrl-Ins
    Paste Ctrl-V or Shift-Insert
    Undo Ctrl-Z
    Switch between open programs ALT+TAB
    close Active Windows Alt-F4
    Backspace Go to up one level
    Find F3 or Win-F
    Replace Ctrl-H
    Explorer Win-E
    Start menu Ctrl-Esc or Win
    System Properties Win+Break
    Copy Active Window to Clipboard Alt-Prt SC (might need fn key for some laptops)
    Copy Full Screen To Clipboard Prt SC (might need fn key for some laptops)


Windows key and context menu keys are your friend, Shift-F10 can be used instead of windows context men key and Ctrl-Esc can be used instead of windows key to activate Start Menu


Command Prompt

  1. cmd or command (for win9x or ME) from Run. Go to DOS prompt easily
  2. CMD here power toy helps to delete files faster. You can open a command prompt in a folder and give del. to delete all files or use a wild card like del *.tmp. The advantage of this method is that the deletion process does not stop with a file in use. this very handy for emptying the temp folder.
  3. At the Run prompt typing cmd /k followed by a DOS command will not close the command box even after the command  is executed. eg cmd /k ping
  4. ping -t at command  prompt continues pinging till ctrl-c is pressed. Helpful while tracing network problems.
  5. Find the IP address from computer name using the command nbtstat -A computername
  6. Enable auto complete at DOS prompt using TweakUI and get file name completion at DOS prompt.

I don’t quite remember the source but these Vista shortcut can be handy

Win 0 – Dos prompt

I wanted to write more but this has been sitting as a draft in Windows Live Writer for long..