Using the MS-DOS command interpreter

December 2016




Introduction to the DOS shell

Disc Operating System


What is DOS? Disc Operating System (Disc OS)
  • Former command interpreter (1981, IBM PC)
  • Primitive Operating system
  • Works in command line
  • No multitasking



The variation of DOS:
  • PC-DOS, developed by Microsoft for IBM PC
  • MS-DOS sold by Microsoft
  • DR-DOS from Digital Research
  • FreeDOS

Batch language


Despite of the user friendly GUI of the Windows OS, command lines are still use to perform many tasks:
  • The batch language is not compiled, it is interpreted by cmd.exe
  • Batch files are directly editable (not "protected")
  • Language fits to applications written directly in machine language
  • A batch file is basically a text file
  • Create your batch with any text editor.

The DOS shell

  • Do Start/Run (or Windows key + R).
  • Type cmd to open a DOS window




You can very easily change the background and text color of the CMD console:
Using this command: colo xy
  • X is the background color
  • Y color of the text.




The following colors meet the following codes:
  • 0 = Black
  • 8 = Gray
  • 1 = Blue,
  • 9 = Light Blue
  • 2 = Green
  • A = LightGreen
  • 3 = Blue
  • B = Bright Blue
  • 4 = Red
  • C = Bright Red
  • 5 = Purple
  • D = Light Purple
  • 6 = Yellow
  • E = Bright Yellow
  • 7 = White
  • F= Bright white.



Right-clicking on the shortcut for the command prompt also gives us the ability to customize the DOS window.

The Paths


MSDOS can concatenate the names of directories (by inserting a \ between each directory) to locate a given one
  • Absolute path C:\AD_automobile\ Lille
  • Relative path (when in AD_automobile) Lille

Keyboard keys

  • The TAB key allows you to automatically complete the first few letters of a command or a pathname.
  • The up and down allow you to edit past commands.

The Commands

CD: Change Directory

  • For the rest of this tip, consider a a folder at the root of your disk files as follows:
    • AD_Automobile, Audi, Citroen, Accounting, Ford, Peugeot, Renault
  • and inside the" AD_Automobile" folder, you have another one named "Lille".



Changing directory with the CD command:

Dir: View a folder(directory)


  • "*" substitutes a group of characters.
  • ? replaces the character with an unknown letter.




To have all the information about this command, simply add a /? after the command, for example: dir /?

Note that

  • /f
    displays the names of files in each directory
  • /a
    Use ASCII instead of extended characters




Related :

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