Command Prompt: 11 basic commands you should know (cd, dir, mkdir, etc.) - Page 2

6. How to copy files with Command Prompt (CMD)

The Copy command allows you to copy files from one location to another. To use this command, type "copy location\filename.extension newlocation\newname.extension".

For example, let's use this command to copy the Image0.bmp file from the Digital_Citizen folder located on the "D:" drive to the "D:\Digital_Citizen\Digital_Citizen_Tests\ folder. To make things more interesting, we want the file to be named Testing_Picture1.gif. To do all that, we must type the command "copy D:\Digital_Citizen\image0.bmp D:\Digital_Citizen\Digital_Citizen_Tests\testing_picture1.gif" followed by Enter. You should also receive a confirmation of the operation, as you can see below.

Using COPY to copy files with Command Prompt

If you are copying within the same directory, you do not have to put the path in command. As an example, let's copy Digital_Citizen_Notes.txt from "D:\Digital_Citizen" in the same folder, only with a different extension: let's say Digital_Citizen_Notes.docx.

To do that, we have to run the command "copy Digital_Citizen_Notes.txt Digital_Citizen_Notes.docx."

Using the COPY command to copy files in the same directory

7. How to copy folders (and their contents) with Command Prompt (CMD)

To copy a folder and its content from a location to another, use the XCOPY command followed by the "/s /i" operators. Let's assume that we need to copy a folder from "D:\Digital_Citizen" to "C:\Backup_Digital_Citizen." To do that, we have to run the command "xcopy /s /i d:\Digital_Citizen c:\Backup_Digital_Citizen." The "/s" parameter ensures that all the directories and subdirectories are going to be copied, except the ones that are empty. The "/i" parameter creates a new directory if the destination folder does not exist and copies all the files in it.

Using XCOPY to copy folders and their contents, in Command Prompt

8. How to delete files with Command Prompt (CMD)

The DEL (Delete) is used to delete files from the folders you have created. To delete all the files from a folder, you can run the command "del folder." For instance, from the directory, Digital_Citizen found on the "D:" drive if we want to delete all the files from the Digital_Citizen_Tests folder, type the command "del Digital_Citizen_Tests." You need to confirm the delete process by typing the letter "y" from Yes, and then press Enter.

NOTE: To also delete hidden files from the folder, you must add the "/h" parameter. Also, note that the DEL command does not work for deleting folders - for that, you have to use the RD command of which you can read in the next section of this tutorial.

Using the DEL command to delete all the files in a directory, in Command Prompt

If you need to delete a single file, use the DEL command followed by that file's name. For instance, to delete the file Digital_Citizen_Notes.txt from "D:\Digital_Citizen," we should run the command "del Digital_Citizen_Notes.txt."

Using the DEL command to delete a single file, in Command Prompt

Here is a list of useful DEL combinations that are worth mentioning:

  • DEL *.DOCX - delete all files with the DOC extension (you can use any file extension necessary, DOCX is just an example);
  • DEL Test*.* - delete all files beginning with Test;
  • DEL *.* - delete ALL files from the current folder.

9. How to delete folders with Command Prompt (CMD)

The DEL command cannot be used to delete folders. Therefore we must use another command to remove any empty folder: RD (Remove Directory). We have previously deleted all the files from the Digital_Citizen_Tests folder. It is now time to delete the directory too, by typing "RD Digital_Citizen_Tests."

Using the RD command to delete folders, in Command Prompt

10. How to launch an app with Command Prompt (CMD)

To run a program from the Command Prompt, you need only to navigate to the folder that contains the executable and type the program's name. For example, if you want to launch Paint using Command Prompt, go to "C:\Windows\System32", where its executable is: mspaint.exe. Let's see how this operation is done if you were in "D:\Digital_Citizen." First of all, change the working directory to the application's folder by typing "cd /d c:\windows\System32\". Then write mspaint.exe or mspaint and press Enter. Both commands can be seen in the screenshot below.

Launching an app from Command Prompt

11. How to get help in the Command Prompt (CMD)

To access help in the Command Prompt, you have to type the help command and then press Enter. A list with all available commands is displayed, as you can see below.

The HELP command from Command Prompt

If a particular command interests you, type help followed by the name of that command. Another way to do the same thing is to type the command's name followed by the "/?" parameter. To test it, use "help cd" or "cd/?" to display information about the cd command. In the picture below you can see the result:

Using the HELP command or the /? parameter to find help in Command Prompt


The Command Prompt is a powerful tool for Windows computer users who are willing to get their hands dirty and learn new things. We hope that this article was useful in helping you learn the basics of running commands in the Command Prompt. If you have any questions about it, do not hesitate to leave us a comment below.