This article was written by Luigi Oppido and writer Jack Lloyd. Luigi Oppido is the owner and operator of Pleasure Point Computers in Santa Cruz, California. Luigi has over 25 years of experience in computer repair, data recovery, virus removal and upgrades. He is also the host of the Computer Man Show! aired on KSQD covering Central California for over two years.
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This tutorial will teach you how to run a program on a Windows computer from a command line program. You can run programs installed in folders created by Windows (such as the Desktop), although you can add the program folder to the Command Prompt menu to run the program from the command line.
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This article was written by Luigi Oppido and writer Jack Lloyd. Luigi Oppido is the owner and operator of Pleasure Point Computers in Santa Cruz, California. Luigi has over 25 years of experience in computer repair, data recovery, virus removal and upgrades. He is also the host of the Computer Man Show! aired on KSQD covering Central California for over two years. This article has been viewed 1,788,720. If you are an experienced professional who knows your system inside out, this book is not for you. However, if you have used computer tools before or are just starting out, you may not have had to deal with what is called a “command line”, “console” or “terminal”. If these words are unfamiliar to you, or ring a bell but don’t know what they are, read on!
Once upon a time, computers were governed by abolished laws. Then we changed the graphical user interface (GUI) and typing was replaced by point and click. This is how most people work with computers today, although they often use a finger on the computer rather than a desktop mouse.
Computers can be controlled by typing commands on the keyboard, and as you can imagine, this is done at the command line. Windows, macOS, and Linux have a place to display the command line. These programs are often called consoles or terminals.
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For example, on macOS there is a Terminal program. You can find it under Applications > Tools. Different versions of Linux offer different terminal programs, but they will be called something like Terminal and will be accessible from the desktop. Windows 10 has Windows Terminal; Older versions have a Command Prompt item in the Start menu that invokes their terminal program. Microsoft also has a Windows Subsystem for Linux that uses the Windows 10 Linux family.
The terminal is a display system; the program that does the actual work is called the “shell”. This is why you can see PowerShell in a terminal window on a Windows PC. The shell is the physical interface between you and the computer; the terminal just displays the contents of the shell on the screen and sends your keystrokes to the shell.
If you were using a Linux machine that was configured not to boot from the desktop, you were using the command line all the time and communicating directly with the shell. The latter software is used from a desktop graphical user interface.
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Seasoned developers have their favorite shells, but for beginners it’s best to use what your operating system offers. Once you know how it works and start using it, you can start exploring other options.
Even when you invoke the shell, you will see a so-called “prompt”, prompting the shell to enter a command. After the command completes, you’ll see a popup window again: the shell is telling you that it’s ready for its next task.
There are different shells, so you may not see them at the same time when using multiple machines. A popular Linux shell is called Bash; his standard is immediately
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. Anything with an icon and any information displayed next to it—usually the current directory, but you might also see a drive letter, username, or date—will soon tell you that the shell is waiting for input.
Current directory? This is another common term read in command line discussions. You may also come across the name “working directory”. “Directory” is simply speaking for the directory, the “task” you see in the terminal.
The list of directories in which a file or directory is located is called a “path”. Here’s an example for macOS:
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So if you’re using Windows Terminal or PowerShell, just substitute one for the other in this and the following examples.
Depending on your shell, you can use “relative” methods – methods that depend on your starting point. It uses the following scripts:
At the beginning of the first method is strange: it is, for example, the “root” directory of Linux and macOS. the top-level directory from which all others start.
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(so-called tilde) in the way. It’s one of the most common Unix shell scripts: it means the user’s home directory, and you can use it anywhere you type your full path. It’s a good way to refer to home documents that can be used by different people: everyone has different home documents, but
, just give his name soon. If it’s in a different directory than the one you’re working in, give a specific or relative path. If it is in the working directory, you can leave the path. But you have to tell the shell that the file is here: install and
It’s beyond the scope of this guide, but it’s useful to know that the Linux and macOS environments have variables called that.
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Which tells them where to look for files: it has a list of control options. If you just write
These commands tell the shell to list the files and subdirectories in that directory, also known as the working directory. How do you see what it is? Here is another rule:
There are several commands you can enter, too many to list here. There are many online tools that list them – just use your favorite search engine.
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Most commands are more than just plain text – you can supply information in the form of “arguments” placed after the command and separated by a single space. Arguments can include file names or locations where the results of the command will be placed.
The need to separate arguments with spaces means you have to be careful with file and folder names that contain spaces. Telling the shell to include spaces as part of the argument instead of delimiters is called “quotes”. For example, stopping the second space in the command
This has the same effect as the previous example, but it’s combined. Most laws work this way, but not all. Many commands have switches
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Which causes them to issue a directive – this tells you if the command supports combining switches and flags in this way.
The law we mentioned earlier? If you specify the entire path as an argument and it contains text that does not exist,
Some shell commands are built into the shell itself, but many others are their own programs. Some are “bullets”. This is what makes the command line interesting for developers. Scripting is a way to combine multiple statements with variables and change logic to modify large tasks.
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Or you can write a script to remove certain points from a set of log files. Or install software that is ready for distribution. Or…well, the possibilities are endless. Shell scripting is a very powerful form of programming.
Most lines in a script are read and acted upon as if you typed them quickly; A number of others determine how the script runs, create borders or comments. You can see all the comment lines: they start
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– the shell ignores any text after the mark until the end of the line. Let’s get to the rest.
. Don’t read sheet music as string trimmers – they are used for notation. Why? Because the value of the variable
Symbol stands for ‘logical OR’ and tells the shell to check the result of the command and if it fails to execute the rest of the line. In this case, that means us
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Script with exit code 1, i.e. failure. Performing