Windows 10 tip: The fastest, smartest ways to open a Command Prompt window

Every Windows power user knows that a Command Prompt window is often the quickest way to get things done. For some tasks, in fact, it's the only way. Here's a collection of ways to get to the command line quickly.

open-command-prompt.jpg

Hold down Shift and right-click to open a Command Prompt window from File Explorer.

Click to enlarge

Every version of Windows includes its own command processor, Cmd.exe. Opening that application gives you access to the full range of command-line tools and utilities in Windows.

The slow way to open this essential power user's tool is to dig through the Start menu (Start > Windows System > Command Prompt). Here are a handful of faster ways that also give you control over startup folders and whether you run the command session as an administrator.

  • Right-click Start and choose Command Prompt or Command Prompt (Admin) from the Quick Links menu. You can also use keyboard shortcuts for this route: WIndows key + X, followed by C (non-admin) or A (admin).
  • Type cmd in the search box, then press Enter to open the highlighted Command Prompt shortcut. To open the session as an administrator, press Alt+Shift+Enter.
  • From File Explorer, click to select the contents of the address bar and then type cmd and press Enter. That opens a non-admin Command Prompt session in the current folder.
  • In a File Explorer window, hold down Shift as you right-click on a folder or drive. That opens a non-admin Command Prompt session in the selected location.
  • To open an administrative Command Prompt window in the current folder, use this hidden Windows 10 feature: Navigate to the folder you want to use, then tap Alt, F, M, A (that keyboard shortcut is the same as switching to the File tab on the ribbon, then choosing Open command prompt as administrator).

If you're a PowerShell user, you can open a Command Prompt session from PowerShell by typing cmd and pressing Enter. To return to PowerShell, type exit and press Enter.

Previous tip: More hibernation secrets to save time and disk space

Next week: Another Windows 10 tip from Ed Bott

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All