List of MS-DOS commands, switches and parameters

In this tutorial we will explore the MS-DOS commands and learn about switches and parameters. If you have not seen it yet, we recommend reading the tutorial Windows command line or MS-DOS prompt.

These commands are used in both the command line interface, as in programming batch files, which are widely used in servers and software development tools.

Specify one or more files or directories

MS-DOS commands make little difference between a file and a directory. When we see the word file in a help command, it usually refers either to a file or a directory.

To refer to a file or directory we use [drive:] [path] [filename]:

If we want to select all files with a certain extension or name, you can use the wildcard *.

Eg: dir *.txt  will show us all the files with the extension txt
Eg: dir edu.* will show us all the files with the name edu, regardless the extension.

Switches and parameters of a MS-DOS command

Switches always begin with a "/". Switches allow you to modify the default operation of specific commands. If you use the modifier /? in a command, it will show the help command with all the switches available. Consider, for example, the DIR command:

 C:\>dir /?

Displays a list of files and subdirectories in a directory.
DIR [drive:][path][filename] [/A[[:]attributes]] [/B] [/C] [/D] [/L] [/N] [/O[[:]sortorder]] [/P] [/Q] [/R] [/S] [/T[[:]timefield]] [/W] [/X] [/4]
[drive:][path][filename] Specifies drive, directory, or files to list.
/A Displays files with specified attributes.
D Directories R Read-only files
H Hidden files A Files ready for archiving
S System files I Not content indexed files
L Reparse Points - Prefix meaning not

/B Uses bare format (no heading information or summary).
/C Display the thousand separator in file sizes. This is the default. Use /-C to disable display of separator.
/D Same as wide but files are list sorted by column.
/L Uses lowercase.
/N New long list format where filenames are on the far right.
/O List by files in sorted order.
sortorder N By name (alphabetic) S By size (smallest first) E By extension (alphabetic) D By date/time (oldest first) G Group directories first - Prefix to reverse order
/P Pauses after each screenful of information.
/Q Display the owner of the file.
/R Display alternate data streams of the file.
/S Displays files in specified directory and all subdirectories.
/T Control what time field displayed or used for sorting
timefield C Creation
A Last Access
W Last Written
/W Uses wide list format.
/X This displays the short names generated for non-8dot3 file names. The format is that of /N with the short name inserted before the long name. If no short name is present, blanks are displayed in its place.
/4 Displays four-digit years Switches can be preset in the environment variable DIRCMD. These can be overridden by preceding each modifier with - (hyphen), for example, /-W.


In the fourth line, we can see at the side of the word DIR; [drive:] [path] [filename]. This indicates that the DIR command accepts as optional parameters; a drive, a path and a filename or even more useful; a file name with wildcards.

The brackets [] indicate that the parameter or switch is optional.

After these three parameters we see a big list of switches (starting with /). All are optional (they are enclosed by []) and are explained in "help". Special cases are the / A, / O, / T which allow us the specification of parameters.


As an example, we can see that DIR /A:D allows us to list only the directories (without the files).

C:\>dir /a:D
 The volumen of the C unit is OS
 The number of the volumen serie is: 008E-DBB0

  C:\ Directory

25/05/2012  14:21    <DIR>          $Recycle.Bin
19/11/2012 19:39 <DIR> android
19/10/2011 01:34 <DIR> AsusVibeData
10/01/2013 14:48 <DIR> Autodesk
29/07/2009 03:03 <DIR> Boot
14/07/2009 02:08 <JUNCTION> Documents and Settings [C:\Users]
26/03/2014 11:35 <DIR> eclipse
23/01/2013 14:17 <DIR> eclipseclasic
26/05/2012 15:40 <DIR> eclipseclasic64
02/02/2012 21:03 <DIR> eSupport
02/02/2012 20:52 <DIR> Intel
05/03/2014 18:22 <DIR> libgdx
14/07/2009 00:20 <DIR> PerfLogs
26/03/2014 11:27 <DIR> Program Files
13/04/2014 23:26 <DIR> Program Files (x86)
24/03/2014 19:48 <DIR> ProgramData
25/05/2012 14:18 <DIR> Recovery
21/04/2014 03:47 <DIR> System Volume Information
01/08/2012 01:38 <DIR> testjava
25/05/2012 14:20 <DIR> Users
27/06/2013 13:55 <DIR> Windows 0 files 0 bytes 21 dirs 38.466.011.136 free bytes

Redirecting the output of a command

We can redirect the output of any command or program to a file using > to replace the contents of the target file or >> to add it to the end of the file.

Eg: "dir > dir.txt" or "dir >> dirs.txt"

Redireccionamiento de la salida de un comando

As you can see, there is no response on the console but if we open the file dir.txt, we will find the text you normally see on the console.


MS-DOS command List; HELP Command

With the HELP command, we get a list of available commands and a description of their function.

For more information on a specific command, type HELP command-name

   ADDUSERS Add or list users to/from a CSV file
   ADmodcmd Active Directory Bulk Modify
   ARP      Address Resolution Protocol
   ASSOC    Change file extension associations•
   ASSOCIAT One step file association
   AT       Schedule a command to run at a specific time
   ATTRIB   Change file attributes
   BCDBOOT  Create or repair a system partition
   BCDEDIT  Manage Boot Configuration Data
   BITSADMIN Background Intelligent Transfer Service
   BOOTCFG  Edit Windows boot settings
   BROWSTAT Get domain, browser and PDC info
   CACLS    Change file permissions
   CALL     Call one batch program from another•
   CERTREQ  Request certificate from a certification authority
   CERTUTIL Utility for certification authority (CA) files and services
   CD       Change Directory - move to a specific Folder•
   CHANGE   Change Terminal Server Session properties
   CHKDSK   Check Disk - check and repair disk problems
   CHKNTFS  Check the NTFS file system
   CHOICE   Accept keyboard input to a batch file
   CIPHER   Encrypt or Decrypt files/folders
   CleanMgr Automated cleanup of Temp files, recycle bin
   CLIP     Copy STDIN to the Windows clipboard
   CLS      Clear the screen•
   CMD      Start a new CMD shell
   CMDKEY   Manage stored usernames/passwords
   COLOR    Change colors of the CMD window•
   COMP     Compare the contents of two files or sets of files
   COMPACT  Compress files or folders on an NTFS partition
   COMPRESS Compress one or more files
   CONVERT  Convert a FAT drive to NTFS
   COPY     Copy one or more files to another location•
   CSCcmd   Client-side caching (Offline Files)
   CSVDE    Import or Export Active Directory data 
   DATE     Display or set the date•
   DEFRAG   Defragment hard drive
   DEL      Delete one or more files•
   DELPROF  Delete user profiles
   DELTREE  Delete a folder and all subfolders
   DevCon   Device Manager Command Line Utility 
   DIR      Display a list of files and folders•
   DIRQUOTA File Server Resource Manager Disk quotas
   DIRUSE   Display disk usage
   DISKPART Disk Administration
   DISKSHADOW Volume Shadow Copy Service
   DISKUSE  Show the space used in folders
   DOSKEY   Edit command line, recall commands, and create macros
   DriverQuery Display installed device drivers
   DSACLs   Active Directory ACLs
   DSAdd    Add items to active directory (user group computer) 
   DSGet    View items in active directory (user group computer)
   DSQuery  Search for items in active directory (user group computer)
   DSMod    Modify items in active directory (user group computer)
   DSMove   Move an Active directory Object
   DSRM     Remove items from Active Directory
   ECHO     Display message on screen•
   ENDLOCAL End localisation of environment changes in a batch file•
   ERASE    Delete one or more files•
   EVENTCREATE Add a message to the Windows event log
   EXIT     Quit the current script/routine and set an errorlevel•
   EXPAND   Uncompress CAB files
   EXTRACT  Uncompress CAB files
   FC       Compare two files
   FIND     Search for a text string in a file
   FINDSTR  Search for strings in files
   FOR /F   Loop command: against a set of files•
   FOR /F   Loop command: against the results of another command•
   FOR      Loop command: all options Files, Directory, List•
   FORFILES Batch process multiple files
   FORMAT   Format a disk
   FREEDISK Check free disk space
   FSUTIL   File and Volume utilities
   FTP      File Transfer Protocol
   FTYPE    File extension file type associations•
   GETMAC   Display the Media Access Control (MAC) address
   GOTO     Direct a batch program to jump to a labelled line•
   GPRESULT Display Resultant Set of Policy information
   GPUPDATE Update Group Policy settings
   HELP     Online Help
   HOSTNAME Display the host name of the computer
   iCACLS   Change file and folder permissions
   IF       Conditionally perform a command•
   IFMEMBER Is the current user a member of a group
   IPCONFIG Configure IP
   INUSE    Replace files that are in use by the OS
   LABEL    Edit a disk label
   LOGMAN   Manage Performance Monitor
   LOGOFF   Log a user off
   LOGTIME  Log the date and time in a file
   MAKECAB  Create .CAB files
   MAPISEND Send email from the command line
   MBSAcli  Baseline Security Analyzer
   MEM      Display memory usage
   MD       Create new folders•
   MKLINK   Create a symbolic link (linkd) •
   MODE     Configure a system device
   MORE     Display output, one screen at a time
   MOUNTVOL Manage a volume mount point
   MOVE     Move files from one folder to another•
   MOVEUSER Move a user from one domain to another
   MSG      Send a message
   MSIEXEC  Microsoft Windows Installer
   MSINFO32 System Information
   MSTSC    Terminal Server Connection (Remote Desktop Protocol)
   NET      Manage network resources
   NETDOM   Domain Manager
   NETSH    Configure Network Interfaces, Windows Firewall & Remote access
   NBTSTAT  Display networking statistics (NetBIOS over TCP/IP)
   NETSTAT  Display networking statistics (TCP/IP)
   NOW      Display the current Date and Time 
   NSLOOKUP Name server lookup
   NTBACKUP Backup folders to tape
   NTDSUtil Active Directory Domain Services management
   NTRIGHTS Edit user account rights
   OPENFILES Query or display open files
   PATH     Display or set a search path for executable files•
   PATHPING Trace route plus network latency and packet loss
   PAUSE    Suspend processing of a batch file and display a message•
   PERMS    Show permissions for a user
   PERFMON  Performance Monitor
   PING     Test a network connection
   POPD     Return to a previous directory saved by PUSHD•
   PORTQRY  Display the status of ports and services
   POWERCFG Configure power settings
   PRINT    Print a text file
   PRINTBRM Print queue Backup/Recovery
   PRNCNFG  Configure or rename a printer
   PRNMNGR  Add, delete, list printers and printer connections
   PROMPT   Change the command prompt•
   PsExec     Execute process remotely
   PsFile     Show files opened remotely
   PsGetSid   Display the SID of a computer or a user
   PsInfo     List information about a system
   PsKill     Kill processes by name or process ID
   PsList     List detailed information about processes
   PsLoggedOn Who's logged on (locally or via resource sharing)
   PsLogList  Event log records
   PsPasswd   Change account password
   PsPing     Measure network performance
   PsService  View and control services
   PsShutdown Shutdown or reboot a computer
   PsSuspend  Suspend processes
   PUSHD    Save and then change the current directory•
   QGREP    Search file(s) for lines that match a given pattern
   Query Process / QPROCESS  Display processes
   Query Session / QWinsta   Display all sessions (TS/Remote Desktop)
   Query TermServer /QAppSrv List all servers (TS/Remote Desktop)
   Query User    / QUSER     Display user sessions (TS/Remote Desktop)
   RASDIAL  Manage RAS connections
   RASPHONE Manage RAS connections
   RECOVER  Recover a damaged file from a defective disk
   REG      Registry: Read, Set, Export, Delete keys and values
   REGEDIT  Import or export registry settings
   REGSVR32 Register or unregister a DLL
   REGINI   Change Registry Permissions
   REM      Record comments (remarks) in a batch file•
   REN      Rename a file or files•
   REPLACE  Replace or update one file with another
   Reset Session  Delete a Remote Desktop Session
   RD       Delete folder(s)•
   RMTSHARE Share a folder or a printer
   ROBOCOPY Robust File and Folder Copy
   ROUTE    Manipulate network routing tables
   RUN      Start | RUN commands
   RUNAS    Execute a program under a different user account
   RUNDLL32 Run a DLL command (add/remove print connections)
   SC       Service Control
   SCHTASKS Schedule a command to run at a specific time
   SET      Display, set, or remove session environment variables•
   SETLOCAL Control the visibility of environment variables•
   SETX     Set environment variables
   SFC      System File Checker 
   SHARE    List or edit a file share or print share
   ShellRunAs Run a command under a different user account
   SHIFT    Shift the position of batch file parameters•
   SHORTCUT Create a windows shortcut (.LNK file)
   SHUTDOWN Shutdown the computer
   SLEEP    Wait for x seconds
   SLMGR    Software Licensing Management (Vista/2008)
   SORT     Sort input
   START    Start a program, command or batch file•
   SUBINACL Edit file and folder Permissions, Ownership and Domain
   SUBST    Associate a path with a drive letter
   SYSTEMINFO List system configuration
   TAKEOWN  Take ownership of a file
   TASKLIST List running applications and services
   TASKKILL End a running process
   TELNET   Communicate with another host using the TELNET protocol
   TIME     Display or set the system time•
   TIMEOUT  Delay processing of a batch file
   TITLE    Set the window title for a CMD.EXE session•
   TLIST    Task list with full path
   TOUCH    Change file timestamps    
   TRACERT  Trace route to a remote host
   TREE     Graphical display of folder structure
   TSDISCON Disconnect a Remote Desktop Session
   TSKILL   End a running process
   TSSHUTDN Remotely shut down or reboot a terminal server
   TYPE     Display the contents of a text file•
   TypePerf Write performance data to a log file
   VER      Display version information•
   VERIFY   Verify that files have been saved•
   VOL      Display a disk label•
   WAITFOR  Wait for or send a signal
   WEVTUTIL Clear event logs, enable/disable/query logs
   WHERE    Locate and display files in a directory tree
   WHOAMI   Output the current UserName and domain
   WINDIFF  Compare the contents of two files or sets of files
   WINRM    Windows Remote Management
   WINRS    Windows Remote Shell
   WMIC     WMI Commands
   WUAUCLT  Windows Update
   XCACLS   Change file and folder permissions
   XCOPY    Copy files and folders

For more information about tools, consult the reference 
from the command line in Help.

If you run HELP followed by a command name, we will get the help command detail, like when we use the switch /?

Eg: if we execute "HELP HELP" or "HELP /?" we obtain:

Provides Help information for Windows commands.

HELP [command]
command - displays help information for the specified command.