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Learning to use command prompt (CMD) - Part 1

Updated on October 31, 2013
using the dir command
using the dir command
use the dir command to view the directories
use the dir command to view the directories
moving back to a directory
moving back to a directory
Changing drives
Changing drives

In my earlier hub - HOW-TO-RECOVER-HIDDEN-DATA-IN-A-FLASH-DRIVE, I have explained the meaning of DOS (Disk Operating System) and how to open it. This is simply by clicking on Start button>Click Run> Type Cmd and hit Enter Key on the keyboard. You can also create a shortcut to the program on the desktop for quick access. In this hub, we are gong to learn on how to change, make and view the directories.

Changing Directories (Cd command)

A directory in MS Dos is the name used to refer to a folder in windows. This is a memory location set for the storage of files in the computer. When we talk of changing directories, it refers to moving from one folder to another. Every time we open CMD, we get the directories of the root drive (Mostly C) in documents and settings directory under the current user account's name.

We might need to shift to another directory from the current one. To do this, we have to know first where the directory is so that we can type the path to it. To change from one directory to the other we use CD command which stands for change directory. Example is when we are in c:\documents and setting\administrator and we want to view some directories in my documents, we will have to type cd my documents then hit enter. This will take you to c:\documents and settings\administrator\my documents.
Note that you cannot change to a directory which is not within the current directory. To confirm if it is within the current directory, we view the directories using the dir command.

Viewing Directories (DIR command)

This is the command used to display the contents of the current directory. We just type the letters dir and hit enter key. This will display all the files and directories excluding the ones with hidden properties. The list is by default arranged starting with the date and time created, if it is a directory it is clearly indicated, the size (files) then the last part is the directory or the file name plus it's extension. From this point, if you would like to switch to one of the directories in that directory, just use the cd command explained above. This is by typing Cd put a space then the name of the directory you want to switch to.

Viewing hidden directories and files (/a)

In the list of directories and files displayed, some may not appear as they may have hidden properties in them. To view the list of all the directories and files, use a forward slash sign with an a (/a) after the dir command. This will enable the display of all of them(hidden and the unhidden) in that directory. Remember to put a space between the directory name and the /a.

Changing between drives

We might need to check a different drive from the one we are currently using. For example, we might need to check a flash drive that we have connected to the computer but when we open cmd, it will only open with the root drive of C: To change to a different drive, we type the drive letter at the entry point followed by full colons e.g. if my flash drive is assigned letter E, I will type E: and press Enter key. from here you can comfortably use the dir /a command to view the directories in that drive. Type the drive letter and press Enter in case you want to switch to another drive.

Moving back to a directory (cd..)

After changing to several directories in a certain drive, you might need to move back to a previous directory. instead of exiting everything and starting all over again, we can go back to that directory by typing cd.. (this will move you back one directory at a time). However, incase you want to jump to the main drive, just type cd\ (note the backslash not a forward slash)


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