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Complete List of MS-DOS Commands

487 30/11/2021

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Tim Fisher

VP and General Manager, Lifewire.com

Tim Fisher has 30+ years' professional technology experience. He focuses on support and Microsoft topics but is an expert in all areas of tech. He's also the VP and General Manager of Lifewire.

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Tim Fisher

Updated on February 16, 2021

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Michael Barton Heine Jr

Lifewire Tech Review Board Member

Michael Heine is a CompTIA-certified writer, editor, and Network Engineer with 25+ years' experience working in the television, defense, ISP, telecommunications, and education industries.

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Article reviewed on Mar 05, 2020

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Windows

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DOS commands are the commands available in MS-DOS that are used to interact with the operating system and other command line based software.

Unlike in Windows, DOS commands are the primary way in which you use the operating system. Windows and other modern OSs use a graphics-based system designed for touch or a mouse.

Miguel Co / Lifewire

If you use Windows (like Windows 10, 8, 7, etc.), then you have no need for DOS commands because you don't have MS-DOS. Check below the table at the bottom of this page for more information.

A Complete List of MS-DOS Commands

MS-DOS 6.22 (CHKDSK Command).

Below is a complete list of MS-DOS commands, commonly referred to as just DOS commands, available as of MS-DOS 6.22:

MS-DOS Command List

Command

Description

Append

The append command can be used by programs to open files in another directory as if they were located in the current directory.

Assign

The assign command is used to redirect drive requests to a different drive. This command can also show drive assignments and reset drive letters to their original assignments.

Attrib

The attrib command is used to change the attributes of a single file or a directory.

Break

The break command sets or clears extended CTRL+C checking on DOS systems.

Call

The call command is used to run a script or batch program from within another script or batch program. The call command has no effect outside of a script or batch file. In other words, running the call command at the MS-DOS prompt will do nothing.

Cd

The cd command is the shorthand version of the chdir command.

Chcp

The chcp command displays or configures the active code page number.

Chdir

The chdir command is used to display the drive letter and folder that you are currently in. Chdir can also be used to change the drive and/or directory that you want to work in.

Chkdsk

The chkdsk command, often referred to as check disk, is used to identify and correct certain hard drive errors.

Choice

The choice command is used within a script or batch program to provide a list of choices and return the value of that choice to the program.

Cls

The cls command clears the screen of all previously entered commands and other text.

Command

The command command starts a new instance of the command.com command interpreter.

Copy

The copy command copies one or more files from one location to another.

Country

The country command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to tell MS-DOS to use country-specific text conventions during processing.

Ctty

The ctty command is used to change the default input and output devices for the system.

Date

The date command is used to show or change the current date.

Dblspace

The dblspace command is used to create or configure DoubleSpace compressed drives.

Debug

The debug command starts Debug, a command line application used to test and edit programs.

Defrag

The defrag command is used to defragment a drive you specify. The defrag command is the command line version of Microsoft's Disk Defragmenter.

Del

The del command is used to delete one or more files. The del command is the same as the erase command.

Deltree

The deltree command is used to delete a directory and all the files and subdirectories within it.

Device

The device command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to load device drivers into memory.

Devicehigh

The devicehigh command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to load device drivers into upper memory.

Dir

The dir command is used to display a list of files and folders contained inside the folder that you are currently working in. The dir command also displays other important information like the hard drive's serial number, the total number of files listed, their combined size, the total amount of free space left on the drive, and more.

Diskcomp

The diskcomp command is used to compare the contents of two floppy disks.

Diskcopy

The diskcopy command is used to copy the entire contents of one floppy disk to another.

Dos

The dos command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to specify the memory location for DOS.

Doskey

The doskey command is used to edit command lines, create macros, and recall previously entered commands.

Dosshell

The dosshell command starts DOS Shell, a graphical file management tool for MS-DOS. The dosshell command was only available up to MS-DOS 6.0 but most MS-DOS 6.22 installations were upgrades from previous versions so the dosshell command is usually still available.

Drvspace

The drvspace command is used to create or configure DriveSpace compressed drives. DriveSpace, executed using the drvspace command, is an updated version of DoubleSpace. DriveSpace is an updated version of DoubleSpace, executed using the dblspace command.

Echo

The echo command is used to show messages, most commonly from within script or batch files. The echo command can also be used to turn the echoing feature on or off.

Edit

The edit command starts the MS-DOS Editor tool, which is used to create and modify text files.

Edlin

The edlin command starts the Edlin tool, which is used to create and modify text files from the command line. Edlin was only available up to MS-DOS 5.0 so unless your version of MS-DOS 6.22 was upgraded from 5.0, you likely won't see the edlin command.

Emm386

The emm386 command is used to give MS-DOS access to more than 640 KB of memory.

Exe2bin

The exe2bin command is used to convert .EXE files to binary format.

Erase

The erase command is used to delete one or more files. The erase command is the same as the del command.

Exit

The exit command is used to end the command.com session that you're currently working in.

Expand

The expand command is used to extract the files and folders contained in Microsoft Cabinet (CAB) files.

Fasthelp

The fasthelp command provides more detailed information on any of the other MS-DOS commands.

Fastopen

The fastopen command is used to add a program's hard drive location to a special list stored in memory, potentially improving the program's launch time by removing the need for MS-DOS to locate the application on the drive.

Fc

The fc command is used to compare two individual or sets of files and then show the differences between them.

Fcbs

The fcbs command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to specify the number of file-control blocks for file sharing.

Fdisk

The fdisk command is used to create, manage, and delete hard drive partitions.

Files

The files command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to specify the maximum number of files that can be open at the same time.

Find

The find command is used to search for a specified text string in one or more files.

For

The for command is used to run a specified command for each file in a set of files. The for command is most often used within a batch or script file.

Format

The format command is used to format a drive in the file system that you specify.

Goto

The goto command is used in a batch or script file to direct the command process to a labeled line in the script.

Graphics

The graphics command is used to load a program that can print graphics.

Help

The help command provides more detailed information on any of the other Command Prompt or MS-DOS commands.

If

The if command is used to perform conditional functions in a batch file.

Include

The include command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to allow you to use the commands from one CONFIG.SYS block within another.

Install

The install command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to load memory-resident programs into conventional memory.

Interlnk

The interlnk command is used to connect two computers via a serial or parallel connection to share files and printers.

Intersvr

The intersvr command is used to start the Interlnk server and to copy Interlnk files from one computer to another.

Join

The join command is used to attach a drive letter to a directory located on another drive. It's similar to the subst command which associates a drive letter with a local directory.

Keyb

The keyb co

mmand is used to configure a keyboard for a specific language.

Label

The label command is used to manage the volume label of a disk.

Lastdrive

The lastdrive command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to set the maximum number of drives that can be accessed.

Lh

The lh command is the shorthand version of the loadhigh command.

Loadfix

The loadfix command is used to load the specified program in the first 64K of memory and then runs the program.

Loadhigh

The loadhigh command is used to load a program into high memory and is usually used from within the autoexec.bat file.

Md

The md command is the shorthand version of the mkdir command.

Mem

The mem command shows information about used and free memory areas and programs that are currently loaded into memory in the MS-DOS subsystem.

Memmaker

The memmaker command is used to start MemMaker, a memory optimization tool.

Menucolor

The menucolor command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to set text colors.

Menudefault

The menudefault command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to set the startup configuration that will be used if no key is pressed within the specified timeout period.

Menuitem

The menuitem command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to create a startup menu from which you can select a group of CONFIG.SYS commands to be processed upon reboot.

Mkdir

The mkdir command is used to create a new folder.

Mode

The mode command is used to configure system devices, most often COM and LPT ports.

More

The more command is used to display the information contained in a text file. The more command can also be used to paginate the results of any other Command Prompt or MS-DOS command.

Move

The move command is used to move one or files from one folder to another. The move command is also used to rename directories.

Msav

The msav command starts Microsoft Antivirus.

Msbackup

The msbackup command starts Microsoft Backup, a tool used to back up and restore one or more files.

Mscdex

The mscdex command is used to provide CD-ROM access to MS-DOS.

Msd

The msd command starts Microsoft Diagnostics, a tool used to display information about your computer.

Nlsfunc

The nlsfunc command is used to load information specific to a particular country or region.

Numlock

The numlock command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to specify the state of the NumLock key.

Path

The path command is used to display or set a specific path available to executable files.

Pause

The pause command is used within a batch or script file to pause the processing of the file. When the pause command is used, a "Press any key to continue..." message displays in the command window.

Power

The power command is used to reduce the power consumed by a computer by monitoring software and hardware devices.

Print

The print command is used to print a specified text file to a specified printing device.

Prompt

The prompt command is used to customize the appearance of the prompt text in Command Prompt or MS-DOS.

Qbasic

The qbasic command starts QBasic, the MS-DOS based programming environment for the BASIC programming language.

Rd

The rd command is the shorthand version of the rmdir command.

Rem

The rem command is used to record comments or remarks in a batch or script file.

Ren

The ren command is the shorthand version of the rename command.

Rename

The rename command is used to change the name of the individual file that you specify.

Replace

The replace command is used to replace one or more files with one or more other files.

Restore

The restore command is used to restore files that were backed up using the backup command. The backup command was only available up to MS-DOS 5.00 but the restore command was included by default with later versions of MS-DOS to provide a way to restore files that were backed up in previous versions of MS-DOS.

Rmdir

The rmdir command is used to delete an existing or completely empty folder.

Scandisk

The scandisk command is used to start Microsoft ScanDisk, a disk repair program.

Set

The set command is used to display, enable, or disable environment variables in MS-DOS or from the Command Prompt.

Setver

The setver command is used to set the MS-DOS version number that MS-DOS reports to a program.

Share

The share command is used to install file locking and file sharing functions in MS-DOS.

Shell

The shell command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to specify the command interpreter that DOS should use.

Shift

The shift command is used to change the position of replaceable parameters in a batch or script file.

Smartdrv

The smartdrv command installs and configures SMARTDrive, a disk caching utility for MS-DOS.

Sort

The sort command is used to read data from a specified input, sort that data, and return the results of that sort to the Command Prompt screen, a file, or another output device.

Stacks

The stacks command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to set the number and size of stack frames.

Submenu

The submenu command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to create a multi-level menu from which you can select startup options.

Subst

The subst command is used to associate a local path with a drive letter. The subst command is a lot like the net use command in Windows except a local path is used instead of a shared network path. The subst command replaced the assign command beginning with MS-DOS 6.0.

Switches

The switches command is used in the CONFIG.SYS file to configure DOS in a special way, like to tell DOS to emulate different hardware configurations.

Sys

The sys command is used to copy the MS-DOS system files and command interpreter to a disk. The sys command is used most often to create a simple bootable disk or hard drive.

Time

The time command is used to show or change the current time.

Tree

The tree command is used to graphically display the folder structure of a specified drive or path.

Type

The type command is used to display the information contained in a text file.

Undelete

The undelete command is used to undo a deletion performed with the MS-DOS delete command.

Unformat

The unformat command is used to undo the formatting on a drive performed by the MS-DOS format command.

Ver

The ver command is used to display the current MS-DOS version number.

Verify

The verify command is used to enable or disable the ability of Command Prompt, or MS-DOS, to verify that files are written correctly to a disk.

Vol

The vol command shows the volume label and a serial number of a specified disk, assuming this information exists.

Vsafe

The vsafe command is used to start VSafe, a basic virus protection system for MS-DOS.

Xcopy

The xcopy command can copy one or more files or directory trees from one location to another. The xcopy command is generally considered a more "powerful" version of the copy command though the robocopy command trumps even xcopy.

Windows vs. DOS Commands

The commands in Windows are available from the Command Prompt and are called Command Prompt commands or CMD commands, but they are not DOS commands.

Instead, check out our List of Windows CMD Commands for all of the command line options you have available to you in Windows. We also have a command comparison table to show which commands are available in different Microsoft operating systems.

If you're interested, there are also Windows-specific lists, which you can find in these Windows 8 commands, Windows 7 commands, and Windows XP commands documents.

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