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Improvements in the Windows 2000 Command Line

Though most of the user-related improvements in Windows 2000 are pretty obvious and related to the graphical user interface, Microsoft has actually been working to improve the command line interface (CMD, the Windows 2000 CLI) as well. The Windows 2000 command line(Figure 1), which is accessed from the "Command Prompt" accessory in the Start menu (or by typing "CMD" in Start menu -> Run) gives you access to a fairly rich environment, especially when compared to its Windows 9x relations.  But Microsoft has taken the Windows 2000 version of this tool to the next level.

File and Folder auto-completion

The most eagerly asked-for feature in the command line has to be file and folder auto-completion. To turn this feature on, open a command line window and type the following:

cmd /f:on

Now, when you are navigating around in the command line and would like to avoid the need to type long file or folder names, you can use the CTRL+D shortcut to auto-complete file and folder names.  Let's say, for example, that you're at the root of the system drive (typically C:\, though it happens to be D:\ on my Windows 2000 Professional system) and you'd like to navigate into the Documents and Settings folder. Rather than type out this monstrosity, you can simply type the following:

D:\cd d [CTRL+D]

And this will expand to the following automatically:

D:\cd "Documents and Settings"

This is shown in Figure 2. This feature also works with files. If you're in C:\winnt\ and would like to execute welcome.exe, you could type the following at the command line:


This will expand to the following:


File and folder shortcuts
In addition to the file and folder auto-completion, you can also take advantage of the command line's shortcuts feature, which may be even easier to use. To abuse our prior example, let's say you're at the root of the system drive and you'd like to navigate again into the Documents and Settings folder. You could use the wildcard shortcut character '*' to  save some typing:

D:\cd d*

After you hit ENTER, you'll be transported into the proper directory (Figure 3). Yeah, it's magic!

Finding out more
The best part of all this is that it's actually documented. Simply open a command line window and type the following:

D:\help cmd

This will give you an extensive listing of the new features in the Windows 2000 command line (Figure 4). There are a couple of other cool features, but I'll leave that to the command line mavens out there. Enjoy!

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