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Display file contents in DOS window

There are two ways to display the contents of a file through DOS. Both of these
methods employ the con (i.e., console, which consists of the keyboard and monito
r) device. Here we are displaying the contents of the file atari.exe, which is l
ocated within the c:\files\docs\ directory:
(using the copy command)
c:\> copy files\docs\atari.exe con
(using the type command)
c:\> type files\docs\atari.exe con
Create text files in DOS
While working in DOS, it is possible to create text documents easily, on the fly
, and without any external text editor. Here, we command DOS to record all keyst
rokes into a file called note.txt, which we will create in the c:\files\docs\ di
(to create the text file and begin recording keystrokes)
c:\> copy con files\docs\note.txt
(to create a new line within the file)
press [ENTER]
(to stop recording keystrokes)
press [F6] or [CTRL+Z and then ENTER]
Add single lines of text to a file
To quickly append lines of text to any file, use the output redirection command
as follows:
c:\> echo sometext >> somefile.txt
This will append the text "sometext" to the file "somefile.txt". If the file exi
sts, the line of text will be added to the end of the file. If the file does not
exist, it will be created. To overwrite the contents of the file, use this inst
c:\> echo sometext > somefile.txt
Fun with the nul device
The nul device is like a black hole into which dumped data will simply disappear
. You can copy or pipe files or keystrokes into it and they will vanish forever.
Thus there are a few fun things that may be done with the nul device.
Here is a way to prevent inexperienced users from using your DOS machine while y
ou are away on break. The following method will create a situation in which a DO
S prompt exists, but fails to execute anything. The user will be able to type co
mmands, press enter, and scratch their heads while nothing happens and everythin
g they type is sent directly to the nul hole:

(first type this to initiate the process)

c:\> copy con nul [ENTER]
(then type this to emulate your DOS prompt)
(then, to exit the process)
[CTRL+C] or [CTRL+BACK] or [CTRL+Z and then ENTER]
Using the nul device, you can also copy files into nowhere:
c:\> copy somefile.txt nul
..or even pipe nothing into nowhere (yes!):
c:\> copy somefile.txt nul > nul
Print a file through DOS
Although I have as of yet been able to get this method to work, it is theoretica
lly possible to accomplish. This command should send the contents of some file t
o the printer device (prn):
c:\> copy somefile.txt prn
Convert the output of one process into the input of another process
Piping (via the pipe "|" symbol) is the process in DOS whereby output data becom
es input data. Here, sending the contents of script.js to the system debug.exe f
c:\> type script.js | c:\programs\debug.exe
This same command could also be written as:
c:\> programs\debug.exe < script.js
Send directory listing to a printer or file
This is a very useful method of printing a list of directory contents:
(send directory listing to the printer)
c:\> dir > prn
(send directory listing to somefile.txt)
c:\> dir > somefile.txt
This is a handy way of printing a list of, say, all .mp3 files in a specific dir
ectory. Here, we use the wildcard "*" character to select all .mp3 files in the
music directory. The list is then printed to the file musiclist.txt, which is lo
cated in the c:\files\docs\ directory:
c:\music\> dir *.mp3 > c:\files\docs\musiclist.txt

Roll your own boot log

To create a log file that records system activity status at every reboot, append
the following to your system s autoexec.bat:
echo Another Reboot! >> c:\reboot.log >> c:\reboot.log
systeminfo.exe >> c:\reboot.log
Now, upon every reboot (or every time the autoexec.bat file is executed), system
status data will be appended to c:\reboot.log, which will be created upon initi
al execution. Here, the appended data is provided by two functions,, wh
ich displays the status of various system devices (e.g., LPT1, COM1, COM2, CON,
etc.), and systeminfo.exe, which displays various system information. Of course,
these functions are merely random, demonstrative examples. You would, of course
, want to customize your own set of logged data according to your system specifi
cs and diagnostic needs.
Customize the DOS command prompt
The default command prompt specifies the current directory, followed by a "great
er-than" (">") symbol and a blinking underscore. There are many options for chan
ging the default prompt, including system variables, normal characters, and pres
et codes. To begin, check out the list of parameters by entering prompt /? at th
e command prompt. Note that each variable must be preceded by a dollar symbol ("
$"). Here are a few examples for changing the prompt:
Display current directory followed by a greater-than symbol:
prompt $p$g
Display the time after the default prompt:
prompt $p$g$t
Display the computer name followed by the username:
prompt [%computername%] [%username%] $g
Reset the prompt to the default:
To modify the color of the DOS prompt and screen color, type color followed by t
wo hexidecimal color values of your choice. The first digit sets the background
color while the second sets the text color:
Change prompt color to matrix green and screen color to black:
color 0a
Change colors to red on grey:
color 84
Here are a few other basic color choices:
0 = Black
1 = Blue
2 = Green
3 = Cyan
4 = Red
5 = Magenta
6 = Yellow
7 = White
8 = Grey
9 = Bright Blue
A = Bright Green
B = Bright Cyan
C = Bright Red
D = Bright Magenta

E = Bright Yellow
F = Bright White
Note: users may also change colors and other properties via the prompt shortcut
itself. Right-click the shortcut and select properties. Have a look around
of choices!