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New to using the command prompt? Check out the Windows Command Prompt Beginner’s Guide

A long time ago, in a Galaxy.. err … Recent Past, we had no Windows (unbelievably true) with its fancy GUI (Graphical User Interface). Typing in commands, paths etc. in DOS (Disk Operating System) was a time-consuming task. If you’d get one letter wrong in a long line of commands, path and keys – you’d get an error and had to start all over again.

Another annoying thing about a text-based OS is the need to retype the same commands over and over.

Luckily there were (are) options that still today can help you become a more efficient user of the Command Prompt Tool.

Using Function keys

In the Command Prompt Window, several Function Keys can be used to retype, edit or change the test you are typing. The following keys can be put to very good use:

  • F3 = Repeat last typed command
  • F1 = Repeat last typed command letter by letter
  • F2 = Copy a number of letters from the last command
  • Insert (Ins) = Used to add letters inside a line of text
  • Delete (Del) = Used to delete letters to the right of the cursor point
  • Backspace = Used to delete letters backwards
  • Up and Down Arrows = Used as history to flip through every command-line used in the current session
  • Right and Left Arrows = Used to maneuver back and forth within a line of text
  • Right-Click, Paste (CTRL+V – does not work)

Flip through all typed commands

If you need to retype a command you have already typed in, you can flip through the commands in memory using the up and down arrow. If  you want the most recent one, press F3 or Press the Arrow-button until the right command appear. If there are no editing necessary, press ENTER. Otherwise read further…

Edit Errors (typos)

There are several ways to edit typo’s depending on where in the line you have made a mistake. If the text you want to edit appears in the first part of the line, press F1 until the desired part becomes visible. If you want to edit the end of the input, press F3 (or use Arrows) then move the cursor backwards using the Left Arrow Button.

Right and Left VS Delete

Moving the cursor using the arrows will not affect your input. Using the Delete-button will. Once the cursor is in place, use either DEL or Backspace to remove text, or the INS-button to add.

Pasting text

For some strange reason, you cannot paste text from the clipboard using CTRL+V using it will result in this: ^V.
This leaves using the context menu paste (Right-Click, Paste).


Paste path into the Command Window, and change directory:

  1. Copy the path from an explorer window (C:\windows\System32)
  2. Type: CD\
  3. Click CTRL+V to add the path
  4. This will result in this line:
    Of course the C:\ part has to go, so use the Left Arrow to move the cursor all the way back there, use the Backspace or DEL button to remove it.
  5. Press Enter

Alternatively, you could paste the path first, then move the cursor to the beginning of the line and overwrite the C: with CD.

Edit typo in command line:

  1. Type in: tracret www.mintywhite.com (Keep the misspelled command)
  2. Press F1 to retype the command letter by letter, until you see letters: trac
  3. Type: ert
  4. Press F3 to add the rest of the command
  5. Press Enter

Alternatively, simply retype the entire command: Tracert, then Press F3 to add the rest of the command.


About Thomas

Computer geek from the age of 7, which amounts to 30 years of computer experience. From the early days (when every computer company had their own OS) of DOS, Windows 1.0 through Seven...

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2 thoughts on “Become a Command Prompt Super User [Quick Tip]”

  1. Etanginsx says:

    Interesting! I recently became involved in the command line and have since become very interested in it. These shortcuts will help me a lot.


  2. Scott Regan says:

    Great Article, those were the days, I am holding my breath for Batch Files next! hope to read your take on those, oh yeah whatever happened to config and sysedit, those where pretty useful If I remember correctly, anyway, thanks again, great refresher. seems lately I only use cmd line for network related issue’s. Looking forward to your next article, 

Comments are closed.

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