Windows XP/2000 Commands & Tools
By Joshua Erdman
Digital Foundation, inc.
Here's the ultimate Windows XP/2000 command list that will make any Linux
user feel at home at the command prompt. A lot of these commands are intended for administrating a network, but they are great
for savvy home users as well. We even listed which OS you need for these commands.
- at (windows XP/2000)
- bootcfg (XP only)
This utility allows you to set up your boot options, such as your default OS and other loading options.
- cacls (XP,
2000, & NT4.0)
Changes the ACLs (security Settings) of files and folders. Very similar to chmod in Linux.
- comp (XP & 2000)
This utility is very similar to diff in Linux. Use the /? switch to get examples of command usage.
- contig (works
with NT4.0 and newer)
A great defrag utility for NTFS partitions.
- control (XP
only) - unpublished!
Allows you to launch control panel applets from the command line.
for example will launch a helpful local user admin utility.
- defrag (XP only - NT4.0 and Win2k use contig)
Yes, XP comes with a command line disk defrag utility.
If you are running Win2k or NT4.0 there is still hope. Contig is a free defrag program that I describe on the defrag page.
- diskpart (XP only)
Use this command to manage your disk partitions. This is the text version for the GUI Disk Manager.
- driverquery (XP only)
Produces a list of drivers, their properties, and their versions. Great for computer documentation.
- eudcedit (XP only) -
Private Character editor. Yes with this program built into Windows XP
you can create your own font!
Find String - similar to Linux's Grep.
- fsutil (XP only) - unpublished!
This is a utility with a lot of capability. Come back soon for great examples.
- getmac (XP & 2000)
This command gets the Media Access Control (MAC) address of your network cards.
- gpresult (XP & 2000)
This generates a summary of the user settings and computer group policy settings.
- gpupdate (XP only)
Use this utility to manually apply computer and user policy from your
windows 2000 (or newer) domain.
- ipconfig (XP, 2000 & NT4.0)
This handy tool displays IP settings of the current computer and much more.
- MMC (XP, 2000 & NT4.0) - Microsoft Management Console
This is the master tool for Windows, it is the main interface in which all other tools use starting primarily in Windows 2000 and
Utility used to display text output one screen at a time. Ex. more
- msconfig (XP only)
The ultimate tool to change the services and utilities that start when your Windows machine boots up. You can also copy
the executable from XP and use it in Win2k.
- msinfo32 (XP &smp; 2000)
An awesome diagnostic tool. With it you can get a list of running processes, including the residing path of the executable (great for
manually removing malware) and get detailed information about hardware and system diagnostics.
- narrator (XP only)
Turns on the system narrator (can also be found in
accessibility options in
control panel). Will will allow your computer to dictate text to you.
- netsh (XP & 2000)
A network configuration tool console. At the 'netsh>' prompt, use the '?' to list the
available commands and type "exit" to get back to a command prompt.
- netstat (XP)
A local network port tool - try netstat -ano.
- nslookup (all)
A DNS name resolution tool.
- openfiles (XP Only)
Allows an administrator to display or disconnect open files in XP professional. Type "openfiles /?" for a list of
- Pathping (XP & 2000)
A cross between the ping and traceroute utilities. Who needs Neotrace when you can use this? Type "pathping <ip
address>" and watch it go.
- recover (XP & 2000)
This command can recover readable information from a damaged disk and is very easy to use.
- reg (XP & 2000)
A console registry tool, great for scripting Registry edits.
- sc (XP & 2000)
A command line utility called the Service Controller. A power tool to
make service changes via a logon/logoff or startup/shutdown script.
- schtasks (XP only)
A newer version of the AT command. This allows an administrator to schedule and manage scheduled tasks on a
local and remote machines.
- secedit (XP & 2000)
Use this utility to manually apply computer and user policy from your windows 2000 (or newer) domain.
Example to update the machine policy: secedit /refreshpolicy machine_policy /enforce
To view help on this, just type secedit.
NOTE: In Windows XP
SP1 and news, this command is superceded by: gpupdate /force
- sfc (XP & 2000)
The system file checker scans important system files and replaces the ones you (or your applications) hacked beyond
repair with the real, official Microsoft versions.
- shutdown (XP & 2000)
With this tool, You can shut down or restart your own computer, or an administrator can shut down or restart a
- sigverif (XP only)
Microsoft has created driver signatures. A signed driver is Microsoft tested and approved. With the sigverif tool you can
have all driver files analyzed to verify that they are digitally signed. Just type 'sigverif' at the command prompt.
- systeminfo (XP only)
Basic system configuration information, such as the system type, the processor type, time zone, virtual memory settings, system uptime,
and much more. This program is great for creating an inventory of computers on your network.
- sysedit (XP/2000)
System Configuration File Editor. An old tool that was very handy for
the Windows 9X days. msconfig is what you want to use now.
- tasklist (XP pro only)
Tasklist is the command console equivalent to the task manager in windows. It is a must have when fighting scumware and
viruses. Try the command:
to view the memory resources your services take up.
- taskkill (XP only)
Taskkill contains the rest of the task manager functionality. It allows you to kill those unneeded or locked up
- tree (XP & 2000)
An amazing experience everyone should try! This command will provide a
'family tree' style display of the drive/folder you specify.
- WMIC (XP & 2000)
Windows Management Instrumentation Command tool. This allows you to
pull an amazing amount of low-level system information from a command line
Of course this list in note exhaustive. We wanted to focus on tools
that are particularly helpful that everyone would use. For the
official list, please visit:
XP Pro Command Reference
If you think these commands were handy, check out our list of helpful
Windows Shortcut Keys.
Article last reviewed: 02/12/2007
Created by: Digital Foundation,
Copyright © 2002-2005 Digital Foundation,
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