List of DOS commands

This article presents a list of commands used by DOS operating systems, especially as used on x86-based IBM PC compatibles (PCs). Other DOS operating systems are not part of the scope of this list.

In DOS, many standard system commands were provided for common tasks such as listing files on a disk or moving files. Some commands were built into the command interpreter, others existed as external commands on disk. Over the several generations of DOS, commands were added for the additional functions of the operating system. In the current Microsoft Windows operating system, a text-mode command prompt window, cmd.exe, can still be used.

Command processing

The command interpreter for DOS runs when no application programs are running. When an application exits, if the transient portion of the command interpreter in memory was overwritten, DOS will reload it from disk. Some commands are internal — built into COMMAND.COM; others are external commands stored on disk. When the user types a line of text at the operating system command prompt, COMMAND.COM will parse the line and attempt to match a command name to a built-in command or to the name of an executable program file or batch file on disk. If no match is found, an error message is printed, and the command prompt is refreshed.

External commands were too large to keep in the command processor, or were less frequently used. Such utility programs would be stored on disk and loaded just like regular application programs but were distributed with the operating system. Copies of these utility command programs had to be on an accessible disk, either on the current drive or on the command path set in the command interpreter.

In the list below, commands that can accept more than one file name, or a filename including wildcards (* and ?), are said to accept a filespec (file specification) parameter. Commands that can accept only a single file name are said to accept a filename parameter. Additionally, command line switches, or other parameter strings, can be supplied on the command line. Spaces and symbols such as a "/" or a "-" may be used to allow the command processor to parse the command line into filenames, file specifications, and other options.

The command interpreter preserves the case of whatever parameters are passed to commands, but the command names themselves and file names are case-insensitive.

Many commands are the same across many DOS systems, but some differ in command syntax or name.

DOS commands

A partial list of the most common commands for MS-DOS follows below.

APPEND

Sets the path to be searched for data files or displays the current search path. The APPEND command is similar to the PATH command that tells DOS where to search for program files (files with a .COM, . EXE, or .BAT file name extension).

ASSIGN

The command redirects requests for disk operations on one drive to a different drive. It can also display drive assignments or reset all drive letters to their original assignments. The command is available in MS-DOS 5.00.

ATTRIB

Attrib changes or views the attributes of one or more files. It defaults to display the attributes of all files in the current directory. The file attributes available include read-only, archive, system, and hidden attributes. The command has the capability to process whole folders and subfolders of files and also process all files

BACKUP and RESTORE

These are commands to backup and restore files from an external disk. These appeared in version 2, and continued to PC DOS 5 and MS-DOS 6 (PC DOS 7 had a deversioned check). In DOS 6, these were replaced by commercial programs (CPBACKUP, MSBACKUP), which allowed files to be restored to different locations.

BASIC and BASICA

An implementation of the BASIC programming language for PCs. Implementing BASIC in this way was very common in operating systems on 8- and 16-bit machines made in the 1980s.

IBM computers had BASIC 1.1 in ROM, and IBM's versions of BASIC used code in this ROM-BASIC, which allowed for extra memory in the code area. BASICA last appeared in IBM PC DOS 5.02, and in OS/2 (2.0 and later), the version had ROM-BASIC moved into the program code.

Microsoft released GW-BASIC for machines with no ROM-BASIC. Some OEM releases had basic.com and basica.com as loaders for GW-BASIC.EXE.

BASIC was dropped after MS-DOS 4, and PC DOS 5.02. OS/2 (which uses PC DOS 5), has it, while MS-DOS 5 does not.

CALL

Starts a batch file from within another batch file and returns when that one ends.

CD and CHDIR

The CHDIR (or the alternative name CD) command either displays or changes the current working directory.

CHCP

The command either displays or changes the active code page used to display character glyphs in a console window.

CHKDSK

CHKDSK verifies a storage volume (for example, a hard disk, disk partition or floppy disk) for file system integrity. The command has the ability to fix errors on a volume and recover information from defective disk sectors of a volume.

CHOICE

The CHOICE command is used in batch files to prompt the user to select one item from a set of single-character choices. Choice was introduced as an external command with MS-DOS 6.0;[1] Novell DOS 7[2] and PC DOS 7.0. Earlier versions of DR DOS supported this function with the built-in switch command (for numeric choices) or by beginning a command with a question mark.[2] This command was formerly called ync (yes-no-cancel).

CLS

The CLS or CLRSCR command clears the terminal screen.

COMMAND

Start a new instance of the command interpreter.

COMP

Show differences between any two files, or any two sets of files.

COPY

Makes copies of existing files.

CTTY

Defines the terminal device (for example, COM1) to use for input and output.

DATE

Displays the system date and prompts the user to enter a new date. Complements the TIME command.

DBLSPACE

A disk compression utility supplied with MS-DOS starting from version 6.0 in 1993.

DEBUG

A very primitive assembler and disassambler.

DEFRAG

The command has the ability to analyze the file fragmentation on a disk drive or to defragment a drive. This command is called DEFRAG in MS-DOS/PC DOS and diskopt in DR-DOS.

DEL and ERASE

DEL (or the alternative form ERASE) is used to delete one or more files.

DELTREE

Deletes a directory along with all of the files and subdirectories that it contains. Normally, it will ask for confirmation of the potentially dangerous action. Since the RD (RMDIR) command can not delete a directory if the directory is not empty, the DELTREE command can be used to delete the whole directory.

The deltree command is included in certain versions of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft DOS Operating Systems. It is specifically available only in versions of MS-DOS 6.0 and higher, and in Microsoft Windows 9x. In Windows NT, the functionality provided exists but is handled by the command rd or rmdir which has slightly different syntax. This command has been deprecated for Windows 7.

DIR

The DIR command displays the contents of a directory. The contents comprise the disk's volume label and serial number; one directory or filename per line, including the filename extension, the file size in bytes, and the date and time the file was last modified; and the total number of files listed, their cumulative size, and the free space (in bytes) remaining on the disk. The command is one of the few commands that exist from the first versions of DOS. The command can display files in subdirectories. The resulting directory listing can be sorted by various criteria and filenames can be displayed in a chosen format.

DISKCOMP

A command for comparing the complete contents of a floppy disk to another one.

DISKCOPY

A command for copying the complete contents of a diskette to another diskette.

DOSKEY

A command that adds command history, macro functionality, and improved editing features to the command-line interpreter.

ECHO

The ECHO command prints its own arguments back out to the DOS equivalent of the standard output stream. (Hence the name, ECHO) Usually, this means directly to the screen, but the output of echo can be redirected, like any other command, to files or devices. Often used in batch files to print text out to the user.

Another important use of the echo command is to toggle echoing of commands on and off in batch files. Traditionally batch files begin with the @echo off statement. This says to the interpreter that echoing of commands should be off during the whole execution of the batch file, thus resulting in a "tidier" output (the @ symbol declares that this particular command (echo off) should also be executed without echo.)

EDIT

EDIT is a full-screen text editor, included with MS-DOS 5 and 6, OS/2 and Windows NT to 4.0 The corresponding program in Windows 95 and later, and W2k and later is Edit v2.0. PC DOS 6 and later use the DOS E Editor and DR-DOS used editor up to version 7.

EDLIN

DOS line-editor. It can be used with a script file, like debug, this makes it of some use even today. The absence of a console editor in MS-DOS/PC DOS 1-4 created an after-market for third-party editors.

In DOS 5, an extra command "?" was added to give the user much-needed help.

DOS 6 was the last version to contain EDLIN; for MS-DOS 6, it's on the supplemental disks, while PC DOS 6 had it in the base install. Windows NT 32-bit, and OS/2 have Edlin.

EXE2BIN

Converts an executable (.exe) file into a binary file with the extension .com, which is a memory image of the program.

The size of the resident code and data sections combined in the input .exe file must be less than 64 KB. The file must also have no stack segment.

EXIT

Exits the current command processor. If the exit is used at the primary command, it has no effect unless in a DOS window under Microsoft Windows, in which case the window is closed and the user returns to the desktop.

FASTHELP

Provides information for MS-DOS commands.

FASTOPEN

A command that provides accelerated access to frequently-used files and directories.

FC

Show differences between any two files, or any two sets of files.

FDISK

The FDISK command manipulates hard disk partition tables. The name derives from IBM's habit of calling hard drives fixed disks. FDISK has the ability to display information about, create, and delete DOS partitions or logical DOS drive. It can also install a standard master boot record on the hard drive.

FIND

The FIND command is a filter to find lines in the input data stream that contain or don't contain a specified string and send these to the output data stream. It may also be used as a pipe.

FOR

The FOR loop can be used to parse a file or the output of a command.

FORMAT

Deletes the FAT entries and the root directory of the drive/partition, and reformats it for MS-DOS. In most cases, this should only be used on floppy drives or other removable media. This command can potentially erase everything on a computer's drive.

GRAPHICS

A TSR program to enable the sending of graphical screen dump to printer by pressing <Print Screen>.

HELP

Gives help about DOS commands.

IF

Evaluate the condition, and only if it is true, then it execute the remainder of the command line Otherwise, it skips the remainder of the line and continues with next command line.

Used in Batch files.

INTERSVR and INTERLNK

In MS-DOS; filelink in DR-DOS.

Network PCs using a null modem cable or LapLink cable. The server-side version of InterLnk, it also immobilizes the machine it's running on as it is an active app (As opposed to a TSR app) which must be running for any transfer to take place. DR-DOS' filelink is executed on both the client and server.

New in PC DOS 5.02, MS-DOS 6.0[3]

JOIN

The JOIN command attaches a drive letter to a specified directory on another drive.[3] The opposite can be achieved via the SUBST command.

LABEL

Changes the label on a logical drive, such as a hard disk partition or a floppy disk.

LOADFIX

Loads a program above the first 64K of memory, and runs the program. The command is included only in MS-DOS/PC DOS. DR-DOS used memmax, which opened or closed lower, upper, and video memory access, to block the lower 64K of memory.[4]

LOADHIGH and LH

A command that loads a program into the upper memory area.

The command is called hiload in DR-DOS.

MD or MKDIR

Makes a new directory. The parent of the directory specified will be created if it does not already exist.

MEM

Displays memory usage. It is capable of displaying program size and status, memory in use, and internal drivers.It is internal command.

MEMMAKER

Starting with version 6, MS-DOS included the external program MemMaker which was used to free system memory (especially Conventional memory) by automatically reconfiguring the AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files. This was usually done by moving TSR programs and device drivers to the upper memory. The whole process required two system restarts. Before the first restart the user was asked whether he/she wanted to enable EMS Memory, since use of expanded memory required a reserved 64KiB region in upper memory. The first restart inserted the SIZER.EXE program which gauged the memory needed by each TSR or Driver. MemMaker would then calculate the optimal Driver and TSR placement in upper memory and modify the AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS accordingly, and reboot the second time.[5]

MEMMAKER.EXE and SIZER.EXE were developed for Microsoft by Helix Software Company and were eliminated starting in MS DOS 7 / Windows 95. PC DOS uses another program RamBoost to optimize memory, working either with PC DOS's HIMEM/EMM386 or a third-party memory manager. RamBoost was licensed to IBM by Central Point Software.

MODE

Configures system devices. Changes graphics modes, adjusts keyboard settings, prepares code pages, and sets up port redirection.[6]

MORE

The MORE command paginates text, so that one can view files containing more than one screen of text. More may also be used as a filter. While viewing MORE text, the return key displays the next line, the space bar displays the next page.

MOVE

Moves files or renames directories. DR-DOS used a separate command for renaming directories, rendir.

MSAV

A command that scans the computer for known viruses.[7][8]

MSCDEX

MSCDEX is a driver executable which allows DOS programs to recognize, read, and control CD-ROMs.

MSD

The MSD command provides detailed technical information about the computer's hardware and software. MSD was new in MS-DOS 6;[9] the PC DOS version of this command is QCONFIG. The command appeared first in Word2, and then in Windows 3.10.

PATH

Displays or sets a search path for executable files.

PAUSE

Suspends processing of a batch program and displays the message 'Press any key to continue. . .', if not given other text to display.

PRINT

The PRINT command adds or removes files in the print queue. This command was introduced in MS-DOS version 2. Before that there was no built-in support for background printing files. The user would usually use the copy command to copy files to LPT1.

PROMPT

The PROMPT command allows the user to change the prompt in the command screen. The default prompt (in Windows 10) is $p (i.e. prompt $p), which displays the drive and current path as the prompt, but can be changed to anything. 'Prompt $d', displays the current system date as the prompt. Type 'prompt /?' in the cmd screen for help on this function.

QBASIC

An integrated development environment and BASIC interpreter.

RD or RMDIR

Remove a directory (delete a directory); by default the directories must be empty of files for the command to succeed. The deltree command in some versions of MS-DOS and all versions of Windows 9x removes non-empty directories.

RECOVER

A primitive filesystem error recovery utility included in MS-DOS / IBM PC DOS.

REM

Remark (comment) command, normally used within a batch file, and for DR-DOS, PC/MS-DOS 6 and above, in CONFIG.SYS. This command is processed by the command processor. Thus, its output can be redirected to create a zero-byte file. REM is useful in logged sessions or screen-captures. One might add comments by way of labels, usually starting with double-colon (::). These are not processed by the command processor.

REN

The REN command renames a file. Unlike the move command, this command cannot be used to rename subdirectories, or rename files across drives. Mass renames can be accomplished by the use of the wildcards characters asterisk (*) and question mark (?).[10]

REPLACE

A command that is used to replace one or more existing computer files or add new files to a target directory.

RESTORE

See: BACKUP and RESTORE

SCANDISK

Disk diagnostic utility. Scandisk was a replacement for the chkdsk utility, starting with later versions of MS-DOS. Its primary advantages over chkdsk is that it is more reliable and has the ability to run a surface scan which finds and marks bad clusters on the disk. It also provided mouse point-and-click TUI, allowing for interactive session to complement command-line batch run. chkdsk had surface scan and bad cluster detection functionality included, and was used again on Windows NT based operating systems.

SET

Sets environment variables. cmd.exe in Windows NT 2000, 4DOS, 4OS2, 4NT, and a number of third-party solutions allow direct entry of environment variables from the command prompt. From at least Windows 2000, the set command allows for the evaluation of strings into variables, thus providing inter alia a means of performing integer arithmetic.[11]

SETVER

SetVer is a TSR program designed to return a different value to the version of DOS that is running. This allows programs that look for a specific version of DOS to run under a different DOS.

Setver appeared in version 4, and has been in every version of DOS, OS/2 and Windows NT since.

SHARE

Installs support for file sharing and locking capabilities.

SHIFT

A command that changes the position of replaceable parameters in a batch file.

SORT

A filter to sort lines in the input data stream and send them to the output data stream. Similar to the Unix command sort. Handles files up to 64k. This sort is always case insensitive.[12]

SUBST

A utility to map a subdirectory to a drive letter.[3] The opposite can be achieved via the JOIN command. commands the drive letter to main.

SYS

A utility to make a volume bootable. Sys rewrites the Volume Boot Code (the first sector of the partition that SYS is acting on) so that the code, when executed, will look for IO.SYS. SYS also copies the core DOS system files, IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS, and COMMAND.COM, to the volume. SYS does not rewrite the Master Boot Record, contrary to widely held belief.

TIME

Display the system time and waits for the user to enter a new time. Complements the DATE command.

[Hours][Min][Sec]

TITLE

Enables a user to change the title of their MS-DOS window.

TREE

It is an external command, graphically displays the path of each directory and sub-directories on the specified drive.

TRUENAME

The TRUENAME command will expand the name of a file, directory, or drive, and display the result. It will expand an abbreviated form which the command processor can recognise into its full form. It can see through SUBST and JOIN to find the actual directory.

MS-DOS can find files and directories given their names, without full path information, if the search object is on a path specified by the environment variable PATH. For example, if PATH includes C:\PROGRAMS, and file MYPROG.EXE is on this directory, then if MYPROG is typed at the command prompt, the command processor will execute C:\PROGRAMS\MYPROG.EXE. In this case,

TRUENAME MYPROG

would display

C:\PROGRAMS\MYPROG.EXE

This command displays the UNC pathnames of mapped network or local CD drives. This command is an undocumented DOS command. The help switch "/?" defines it as a "Reserved command name". It is available in MS-DOS 5.00.0. This command is similar to the which command, which, given an executable found in $PATH, would give a full path and name. The C library function realpath performs this function. The Microsoft Windows command processors do not support this command. <real code.st>

TYPE

Displays a file. The more command is frequently used in conjunction with this command, e.g. type long-text-file | more. TYPE can be used to concatenate files (type file1 file2 > file3); however this won't work for large files—use copy command instead.

UNDELETE

Restores file previously deleted with del. By default all recoverable files in the working directory are restored; options are used to change this behavior. If the MS-DOS mirror TSR program is used, then deletion tracking files are created and can be used by undelete.

VER

An internal DOS command, that reports the DOS version presently running, and since MS-DOS 5, whether DOS is loaded high.

VERIFY

Enables or disables the feature to determine if files have been correctly written to disk. If no parameter is provided, the command will display the current setting.[13]

VOL

An internal command that displays the disk volume label and serial number.

VSAFE

A TSR program that continuously monitors the computer for viruses.

XCOPY

Copy entire directory trees. Xcopy is a version of the copy command that can move files and directories from one location to another.

See also

References

  1. ^ "MS-DOS choice command help". Retrieved 2014-09-10.
  2. ^ a b "Caldera DR-DOS 7.03 User Guide". Retrieved 2014-09-10.
  3. ^ a b c EasyDOS Command Index
  4. ^ DR DOS 6.0 User Guide. Digital Research. 1991.
  5. ^ Cooper, Jim (May 2001). Using MS-DOS 6.22. Que Publishing. p. 455. ISBN 0789725738.
  6. ^ "MS-DOS mode command help". Retrieved 2014-09-10.
  7. ^ https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/previous-versions/tn-archive/cc722867(v%3dtechnet.10)
  8. ^ https://www.computerhope.com/msavhlp.htm
  9. ^ "MS-DOS msd command help". Retrieved 2014-09-10.
  10. ^ "Microsoft TechNet Rename (ren) article".
  11. ^ Karp, David Aaron; Tim O'Reilly; Troy Mott (2005). Windows XP in a nutshell. Nutshell handbook (2 ed.). O'Reilly Media, Inc. p. 422. ISBN 978-0-596-00900-7. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  12. ^ "Microsoft on "sort"". Retrieved 2014-09-10.
  13. ^ "DOS Command: VERIFY". Retrieved 2014-09-10.

Further reading

  • Cooper, Jim (2001). Special Edition Using MS-DOS 6.22, Third Edition. Que Publishing. ISBN 978-0789725738.
  • Wolverton, Van (1990). MS-DOS Commands: Microsoft Quick Reference, 4th Revised edition. Microsoft Press. ISBN 978-1556152894.

External links

There are several guides to DOS commands available that are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License:

ATTRIB

In computing, ATTRIB is a command in ISIS-II, DOS, OS/2, Microsoft Windows and ReactOS that allows the user to change various characteristics, or "attributes" of a computer file or directory. The command is also available in the EFI shell.

Choice (command)

In computing, choice is a command that allows for batch files to prompt the user to select one item from a set of single-character choices.

Comp (command)

In computing, comp is a command used on OS/8, DOS, FlexOS, OS/2, Microsoft Windows and related computer operating systems such as ReactOS. It is used to perform comparisons of multiple computer files to show the differences between them.

In DOS, the comp command first appeared in PC DOS 1.0 and has been included in most versions of MS-DOS and PC DOS. A newer command, fc was added in DOS 3.3 which allows for line comparisons in addition to binary comparisons.

The FreeDOS version was developed by Paul Vojta.The command is also available in the EFI shell.

Del (command)

In computing, del (or erase) is a command in command-line interpreters (shells) such as COMMAND.COM, cmd.exe, 4DOS, NDOS, 4OS2, 4NT and Windows PowerShell. It is used to delete one or more files or directories from a file system.

Dir (command)

In computing, dir (directory) is a command used for computer file and directory listing.

Echo (command)

In computing, echo is a command that outputs the strings it is being passed as arguments. It is a command typically used in shell scripts and batch files to output status text to the screen or a computer file, or as a source part of a pipeline.

Exe2bin

The command-line tool exe2bin is a post-compilation utility program available on MS-DOS and other operating systems.

Exit (command)

In computing, exit is a command used in many operating system command-line shells and scripting languages.

The command causes the shell or program to terminate. If performed within an interactive command shell, the user is logged out of their current session, and/or user's current console or terminal connection is disconnected. Typically an optional exit code can be specified, which is typically a simple integer value that is then returned to the parent process.

Operating systems, shells and scripting languages providing this command include OS/2, FlexOS, MPE/iX

, KolibriOS, SymbOS, cmd.exe, sh, ksh, Perl, AWK, PHP, TCL, PowerShell and others.

The command is also available in the open source MS-DOS emulator DOSBox.

The numerical computing environment MATLAB includes an exit function with similar functionality.

File Compare

In computing, fc (File Compare) is a command-line program in DOS, OS/2 and Microsoft Windows operating systems, that compares multiple files and outputs the differences between them. It is similar to the Unix commands comm, cmp and diff.

Microsoft ScanDisk

Microsoft ScanDisk (also called ScanDisk), is a diagnostic utility included in MS-DOS and Windows 9x. It checks and repairs file systems errors on a disk drive.

Mkdir

The mkdir (make directory) command in the Unix, DOS, FlexOS, OS/2, Microsoft Windows, and ReactOS operating systems is used to make a new directory. It is also available in the EFI shell and in the PHP scripting language. In DOS, OS/2, Windows and ReactOS, the command is often abbreviated to md.

The command is analogous to the OpenVOS create_dir command. TRIPOS and AmigaDOS provide a similar MakeDir command to create new directories. The numerical computing environments MATLAB and GNU Octave include an mkdir

function with similar functionality.

Outline of Microsoft

Microsoft Corporation is a multinational corporation based in Redmond, Washington, USA and founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing. Due to the scope and size of the company, it encompasses a broad range of topics mostly revolving around critical analysis and the company's products and services.

Recover (command)

In computing, recover was a primitive filesystem error recovery utility included in MS-DOS / IBM PC DOS versions prior to DOS 6.0.

Replace (command)

In computing, replace is a command that is used to replace one or more existing computer files or add new files to a target directory.

Rmdir

rmdir (or rd) is a command which will remove an empty directory on a Unix (e.g. macOS, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX), Unix-like (e.g. FreeBSD, Linux), DOS, FlexOS, OS/2, Microsoft Windows or ReactOS operating system.

The command is also available in the open source MS-DOS emulator DOSBox. The numerical computing environments MATLAB and GNU Octave include an rmdir

function with similar functionality.

TIME (command)

In computing, TIME is a command in DOS, OS/2, Microsoft Windows and ReactOS that is used to display and set the current system time of the operating system. It is included in command-line interpreters (shells) such as COMMAND.COM, CMD.EXE, 4DOS, 4OS2 and 4NT.

The command is also available in the DEC RT-11 operating system and in the EFI shell.

In Unix, the date command displays and sets both the time and date, in a similar manner.

TYPE (DOS command)

In computing, type is a command in various command-line interpreters (shells) such as COMMAND.COM, cmd.exe, 4DOS/4NT and Windows PowerShell used to display the contents of specified files on the computer terminal. The analogous Unix command is cat.

Tree (command)

In computing, tree is a recursive directory listing command or program that produces a depth-indented listing of files. It is available in Unix and Unix-like systems, as well as MS-DOS, FlexOS, 4690 OS, PTS-DOS, FreeDOS, OS/2, Microsoft Windows, and ReactOS.

Vol (command)

In some operating systems (e.g., DOS, FlexOS, 4690 Operating System, OS/2, Microsoft Windows and ReactOS) vol is a command within the command line interpreters (shells) such as COMMAND.COM and cmd.exe. It is used to display the volume label and volume serial number on a logical drive, such as a hard disk partition or a floppy disk, if they exist.

The command is also available in the EFI shell.

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