How To Customize Microsoft Command Prompt Window

Command prompt has not changed much over the years. However there are some tricks we use to make it more useful to us. Here is a quick how-to on how to customize the built-in windows command prompt window.

Note: This tutorial is for Windows XP/Vista/7. If you are using Windows 8/8.1, check out the groovypost above.

  • From the Windows Start Menu > Run type the following: “cmd.exe /k” (withoutthe quotes)
  • The command prompt window will open in full screen mode.
  • Auto-hide Command Prompt

    There are a couple ways to accomplish this. First, right click the flashing DOS cursor (the vertical bar) and select Properties. The auto-hide options should be enabled by default.

    Alternatively, you can press Alt + Spacebar to bring up the Dropdown Menu. Then, click Options (…) > Properties.

    Change Background Color

    Right click the CommandPrompt, select Properties. Click Colors (or Appearance) > Foreground (or Text). Then, click on the Foreground color box. Select your desired color and then click Apply and Ok.

    Notice that you can also change the opacity (thetransparency):

    Again, right click on the Command Prompt, select Properties. Click Opacity. Modify your number in the Opacity box, then click Apply and Ok.

    Change Font Size and Color

    To change the font and textcolor, repeat steps 1 & 2 above. You will be presented with these two options:

    1. Font (size, style)
    2. Background (color, opacity)

    There is also an option to change Visibility (Display) Options:

    1. Always on Top. The prompt will always stay on top of all other windows and applications.
    2. Show Hidden Files. When this option is enabled, the hidden files (those starting with a . or .) are shown in the directory listing. This is helpful when trying to find a file that starts with aperiod but is hidden. For example, if you wanted to see the .CSS files in your directory, you would change your setting to 98% Invisible. Then, the .CSS files would be visible. Alternatively, you could open this directory in Windows Explorer (right click on My Computer, selectExplore (or Open), then go to the directory). From there, you can “unhide” the files you want to see. Changing the visibility setting in CMD does not change the visibility in Explorer. When done, you could switch back to 95% Invisible. This is a good way to keep yourhidden files hidden and your visible files visible. That way you can toggle back and forth between the two options and use each for its respective purpose!

    Filter Unreadable Characters

    Manycommands are very sensitive to special characters and spaces. If you ever run into a command that is not working, you can use the filtering feature. This allows you to filter out anything you don’t want to see. This is also very handy for troubleshooting. Suppose, you want to check the output of a ping command, but you only want to see the “Pinging” information and not the IP address of it’s response. With filtering, you can force the output to display the correct information by removing anything you don’t want. To do this:• Right-click the blinking DOS cursor. From the menu, click Options. In the Dialog Box, on the View tab, check the option “Use Wildcards”. Type in the expression “ping [email protected] *.txt” (without the quotes) in the InputBox. Now you see only the parts ofthe output that has “Ping” in it and none of the IP address. Pretty nifty, huh? 😉

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Dannie Jarrod

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