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2,001 Tips
Windows 95
MS-DOS Prompt

Folder Finder

Type the command START followed by a period (.) at the MS-DOS Prompt to open the current folder. Type command START followed by two periods (..) to open the parent directory (if there is one) of the directory that you are currently in.

Down and Dirty DOS

DOS applications and games can be exremely finicky about system configuration and drivers. Get around this by giving each of your DOS programs a custom setup. First create a shortcut for your programs, then right-click on the shortcut and bring up Properties. Click on the Program tab, then the Advanced button. Click on MS-DOS Mode, then the "Specify a new MS-DOS configuration" radio button. Now type in whatever AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS commands your DOS program needs. Note that you can launch batch files from the AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

DOS Is Boss

Unlike Windows 3.x, Win95 launches the GUI automatically. But you can shut it off and go straight to DOS each time you start Win95 by editing a file called MSDOS.SYS. Launch Notepad, open the file C:\MSDOS.SYS, find the entry BootGUI=1 and change the 1 to a 0. Exit, save the file and reboot.

Quick Launch

Launch any Windows program from the MS-DOS Prompt command line. The directories containing the programs you want to launch should be in your PATH statement. Make sure they are, then type in the name of the program's EXE file and press Enter.

Use Long Filenames in DOS

Launching Win95 programs or folders with long filenames from the MS-DOS command prompt doesn't seem to work. The trick is to enclose the file or folder name in quotation marks. For example, to open a folder called My Favorite Folder from the command prompt, type Start "My Favorite Folder" and press the Enter key. Don't worry about capitalization. The command prompt is not case sensitive.

Tell DOS Who's Boss

Batch files in Win95 leave an embarrassing DOS residue behind: the open DOS Prompt window. To close it, create a shortcut to the batch file, right-click on the shortcut to bring up the Properties dialog, select the Program tab and click on the Close on Exit item at the bottom.

The Path Is Clear

Win95 folder windows show you by default only the name of the folder in the title bar. If you'd like the whole DOS pathname, then open a folder window or the Explorer, select Options from the View menu, click on the View tab and select "Display the full MS-DOS path in the title bar."

Auto-Launch DOS

If you're a fan of the MS-DOS Prompt, then make sure it's always readily available. Right-click on the Start button and select Open. Double-click on the Programs icon, then drag the MS-DOS Prompt shortcut and drop it on the StartUp icon. Now, double-click on the StartUp icon, right-click on the MS-DOS Prompt shortcut and select Properties. Select Minimized from the Run drop-down box. Finally, click once in the Shortcut Key box and type in the hotkey of your choice (say, Ctrl+D). From now on, the MS-DOS Prompt will launch at startup, but minimized. Whenever you want to enter a quick command, just press your shortcut key and it'll come right up.

Make DOS Apps Ask for Input

You can run a DOS program from a Windows 95 shortcut even if it requires variable parameters each time it's run. Create a shortcut for the DOS program, and then right-click on the shortcut and pick Properties from the context menu. Click on the Program tab and add a question mark to the end of the path in the "Cmd line" field. When you run the program from the shortcut, it will open a parameter window where you can type the variable information.

The Perfect Power Prompt

Graphical computing is better than working from a command prompt. But you can still have the command line in Windows 95 and the graphical interface. Right-click on the Start button and select Open. Double-click on the Programs folder and then the StartUp folder. Right-click anywhere in the window, select New/Shortcut, and a wizard will open up. Click on the Browse button, navigate to the Windows directory and double-click on the file DOSPRMPT. Finish the wizard, launch the DOS Prompt and place the command line window where you want it on the desktop. The next time you start Windows, it'll open in the same location.

DOS Vanishing Act

If you have a program or batch file that you don't want lingering on your desktop after it runs, then tell it to go away. Just create a shortcut to the program, right-click on the shortcut and select Properties. Click on the Program tab and select "Close on Exit."

Drag-and-DOS I

Here's a shortcut for typing in a long path to a DOS program. From Explorer, a folder or the Desktop, drag any file and drop it into the MS-DOS Prompt window. The path and the filename will appear on the command line.

Drag-and-DOS II

Copy or cut information from a Windows application and paste it into a DOS application or the MS-DOS Prompt command line. After copying or cutting the information, right-click on the MS-DOS Prompt title bar and select Edit/Paste from the context menu.

Drag-and-DOS III

A quicker way to paste into the MS-DOS Prompt is to click on the Paste button, which is the third button from the left. If the toolbar doesn't appear in the MS-DOS Prompt window, right-click on the title bar and select Toolbar from the context menu.

Drag-and-DOS IV

To copy data from the MS-DOS Prompt, right-click on the title bar and select Edit/Mark. In the MS-DOS Prompt window, highlight the area that you want to copy by pressing and holding the left mouse button and dragging across the data. Press Enter and you're ready to paste the information.

Drag-and-DOS V

Here's another way to copy data from the MS-DOS Prompt. Click on the Mark button on the MS-DOS Prompt toolbar, highlight the area you want to copy by dragging the cursor, then click on the Copy button.

Make DOS Cooperate

Create a shortcut for a DOS program by right-clicking on the shortcut icon and selecting Properties. Select the Program tab, click on the Advanced button and select the MS-DOS mode check box. Windows 95 will run the application in real DOS, quitting all current Windows and DOS-box applications. Windows will automatically restart when you exit the DOS application.

DOS, Behind-the-Scenes

Click on the toolbar's Background button to set a DOS window to run in background. You can then open a second MS-DOS Prompt and execute commands while the other DOS app keeps running.

A Period Piece

DOS veterans know that typing two periods after the Change Directory command (CD ..) brings you to the parent directory of the current directory. The Win95 MS-DOS Prompt improves on this quick command by letting you use three, four or more periods to move you further up the directory chain-to the grandparent directory and the great-grandparent.


Type the DIR command in an MS-Prompt window to see a new variation on an old theme. In addition to the standard DOS 8.3 filenames displayed on the left, the Windows 95 long filenames are displayed on the right.

Dress Up DOS

Set the size of the type that appears in the DOS window from the MS-DOS Prompt Properties dialog. Click on the Font tab and choose a set of font dimensions from the scrolling window. When you select one, the preview window shows what it will look like. You set the font size for individual MS-DOS Prompt windows, so if you have two or more running, they can use different type sizes.

Fun, 32-Bit Style

Game users, listen up! For maximum DOS memory in an MS-DOS session, add the line LocalLoadHigh=1 to the [386Enh] section of SYSTEM.INI. Players of Duke Nukem 3D and Quake-or anyone who plays a game that uses 32-bit DOS extender software-will reap the benefit of that much more memory.

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