How do I "open a command prompt" in Microsoft Windows?
I read a set of instructions for Microsoft Windows XP that required me to "open a command prompt" before running/typing in some sort of command. How do I do that?
Most normal Windows programs, like Microsoft Word, can be run by double-clicking an icon on the desktop or a shortcut under the Start Menu. A few programs, however, have to be "run within a command prompt" in order to work. We'll show an example of how to run one of those programs called "ipconfig".
To open a command prompt, first open a "Run" dialog box. To do this, press Windows+R -- in other words, hold down the "Windows" key on your keyboard, and press the R key. (The "Windows" key is the key in the lower left area of the keyboard with the Windows logo on it -- usually between the "Ctrl" and the "Alt" keys.)
When you press Windows+R, the "Run" dialog will appear:
In the text space, type "cmd" and hit Enter. Now a window will open, looking something like this:
That's the command prompt. An example of a program that can only be run inside a command prompt, is a program called "ipconfig", which is a Windows utility that tells you what your IP address is. You may encounter instructions that say something like, "Open a command prompt and run ipconfig", without giving more specifics that would be useful to a novice. In that case, you would open the command prompt as shown above, and type "ipconfig" in the command prompt, which will give you output that looks something like this:
What would have happen if you had run ipconfig outside of a command prompt? Try pressing Windows-R to open the "Run" dialog again, and type "ipconfig" and press Enter:
You'll probably see a black box appear on the screen and then disappear after a split second. What happened in this case is that the ipconfig program ran, generated its output, and then exited -- and when a Windows program exits, its window closes and leaves no trace behind, just like any other Windows program like Microsoft Word. In this case, however, that behavior isn't what you want, because "ipconfig" prints information to the screen before it exits, so when its window closes, that information disappears too. That's why you run "ipconfig" inside a command prompt, so that after ipconfig exits, the command prompt window is left open to display the output.
Bennett Haselton is a technology and political blogger. If you want to know how to access Facebook from school, he's your man.
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