Windows Command-line tools are great for troubleshooting, as well as automation. If you’re stumped when a tech support guy on the phone asks you to run a built-in console command and copy the output displayed for diagnosing a problem, these Command Prompt basics would come in handy.
Table of Contents
- Open a Command Prompt window
- Copy Command Prompt output to Clipboard
- Redirect Command-line output to a file
- Take a Screenshot
To open a Command Prompt window, press WinKey + R to launch the Run dialog. Type in cmd.exe and press ENTER. In Windows 8.1 and higher, you can right-click Start and click Command Prompt. There are several other ways to open Command Prompt.
If the console tool you’re running or the operation you’re performing requires administrative privileges, you need to open Command Prompt as administrator (also known as “elevated Command Prompt”.)
In the Command Prompt window, type in the command you want to run. For example, someone who’s helping you wants to know your system information by running SystemInfo command, type systeminfo and press ENTER.
To copy the command’s output text to clipboard, use one of the methods.
Using Clip.exe console tool: The Clip.exe console tool is built-in to Windows, starting with Windows Vista and up to Windows 10. This tool copies the data redirected or passed to it, into the clipboard. You can redirect output of your console tool or command to clipboard using the built-in Clip.exe tool by piping the output. The command you’d run is:
That would copy the output of the systeminfo command to the Windows Clipboard. This is done by Clip.exe receiving the command-line output directly.
Once the output is sent to clipboard, you can paste it in any editor window. You can open Notepad and paste (Ctrl + V) the contents there.
You can redirect the command-line output to a file instead of Clipboard. This method can be useful if the output is too lengthy containing several hundreds of lines that can easily exceed the Command Prompt window’s screen buffer size. To output the results to a file, use this syntax/examples:
That would create a file named systeminfo.txt in the user’s Temp folder. To write the output to a file on your desktop, you’d use:
The previous command would create a new file or erase the previous file (if one exists with the same name). If you want to append the command-line output to a file, use double greater-than symbols
>>, as below:
ipconfig >>%userprofile%\desktop\systeminfo.txt systeminfo >>%userprofile%\desktop\systeminfo.txt
That would output the contents of
Systeminfo commands to the same file. If a file exists with the same name
systeminfo.txt, it would be used. Otherwise a new file would be created.
ipconfig >%userprofile%\desktop\info.txt sc query wuauserv >>%userprofile%\desktop\info.txt dir d:\tools\*.exe >>%userprofile%\desktop\info.txt dir C:\Windows\System32\Tasks /s /b >>%userprofile%\desktop\info.txt
The first command would create a new file (as single
> symbol is used) named
info.txt. Subsequent commands would output the results to the existing
info.txt file (double
In some cases you may not require the text output, and a screenshot is sufficient. WinKey + PrntScrn keystroke is used to take a screenshot quickly in Windows 8 and 10. Or use the excellent built-in Snipping Tool. Check out How to Take a Screenshot in Windows? Different Ways Explained for a detailed guide.
Hope that helps! Let’s know your comments.
About the author
Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.