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How to Open Command Prompt (Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, etc.)

Tim Fisher has more than 30 years’ of professional technology experience. He’s been writing about tech for more than two decades and serves as the SVP and General Manager of Lifewire.

Updated on March 9, 2023

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What to Know

  • Search the Start menu for Command Prompt.
  • Alternatively, in Windows 11/10, right-click the Start button and select Terminal or Command Prompt.
  • Another method that works in all Windows versions is to execute the cmd command from the Run dialog box.

This article explains how to open Command Prompt, which is one of the command-line interface programs used to execute commands in Windows operating systems. Command Prompt can really come in handy now and then, maybe to troubleshoot a specific Windows problem or to automate certain tasks.

Open Command Prompt in Windows 11 or 10

There are a few ways, but using the search bar on the taskbar is one quick method.

Directions differ between Windows versions. See What Version of Windows Do I Have? if you’re not sure.

  1. Select the StartMenu (the Windows icon) in the taskbar, or press the Windows key.

Select Command Prompt from the list. If you’re using the latest version of Windows 11, Command Prompt will open within Terminal.

Some popular Command Prompt commands you might have heard of include ping, netstat, tracert, shutdown, and attrib, but there are many more. We have a complete list of Windows Command Prompt commands.

Open Command Prompt Through the Start Menu Folder

Another way to open Command Prompt in Windows 10 is to look in its Start menu folder:

  1. Select the StartMenu (the Windows icon) in the taskbar, or press the Windows key.

Command Prompt menu item in Windows System folder in Start menu on Windows 10

Choose Command Prompt from the folder group.

Open Command Prompt Using Power User Menu

One more method is through the Power User Menu. If you’re using a keyboard or mouse, choose Terminal (Windows 11) or Command Prompt (Windows 10) from the menu that appears after pressing Win+X or right-clicking the Start Menu.

Command Prompt in Windows 10 Power User menu

You might see PowerShell options in the Power User Menu instead of Command Prompt. In more recent versions of Windows 10, Command Prompt has been replaced by PowerShell, but you can switch between PowerShell and Command Prompt from the Power User Menu. Terminal is the replacement in Windows 11.

Open Command Prompt in Windows 8 or 8.1

You’ll find Command Prompt in Windows 8 through the Apps screen.

  1. Select the WindowsStart button and then swipe up to show the Apps screen. You can accomplish the same thing with a mouse by selecting the down arrow icon at the bottom of the screen.

If you’re using a keyboard or mouse, a really quick way to open a Command Prompt window in Windows 8 is through the Power User Menu—just hold the WIN and X keys down together, or right-click the Start button, and choose Command Prompt.

Prior to the Windows 8.1 update, the Apps screen can be accessed from the Start screen by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, or right-clicking anywhere, and then choosing All apps.

See our list of Windows 8 Command Prompt commands for all of the commands available through Command Prompt in Windows 8, including short descriptions and links to more in-depth information if we have it.

Open Command Prompt in Windows 7, Vista, or XP

In these versions of Windows, Command Prompt is found through a folder group in the Start menu.

  1. Open the StartMenu in the bottom-left corner of the screen.

In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, it’s a bit faster to enter command in the search box at the bottom of the Start menu and then choose Command Prompt when it appears in the results.

See our list of Windows 7 commands and list of Windows XP commands if you need a command reference for any of those versions of Windows.

Other Ways to Open Command Prompt

Command Prompt in Windows 11 through Windows XP can also be opened with a command. This is especially helpful if you like using the Run dialog box or if File Explorer has crashed and the Start menu is inaccessible (and thus the directions above don’t work).

To do this, enter cmd into the command-line interface. This can be in the Run dialog box (WIN+R) or Task Manager’s Run new task option (go to File > Run new task if you’re not using Windows 11).

cmd command in Windows task manager

Elevated Command Prompts and Old Windows Versions

In versions of Windows released before Windows XP, like Windows 98 and Windows 95, Command Prompt doesn’t exist. However, the older and very similar MS-DOS Prompt does. This program is located in the Start menu and can be opened with the command run command.

Some commands, like the sfc command that’s used to repair Windows files, require that Command Prompt be opened as an administrator before they can be executed. You’ll know if this is the case if you get a message like one of these after trying to execute the command:

  • check that you have administrative rights
  • . command can only be executed from an elevated command prompt
  • you must be an administrator

sfc scannow elevated prompt message

See How to Open an Elevated Command Prompt for help starting Command Prompt as an administrator, a process that’s a bit more complicated than what’s outlined above.

How do you change directory in Command Prompt?

Type the command cd followed by a space and the name of the folder. For example, assuming you’re currently in the Users folder and want to change to the Documents folder, the command is cd Documents. You can also type in cd and drag and drop the folder you want to switch to into Command Prompt.

How do you open a command prompt on Mac?

Instead of Command Prompt, Mac owners use a program called Terminal. To open it, select the Launchpad icon in the Dock and type Terminal in the search field, then select the app. Alternatively, go into Finder and open the /Applications/Utilities folder to find it.

How do you copy/paste into Command Prompt?

You can use the same keyboard shortcuts you use to copy/paste in other programs—CTRL+C and CTRL+V. On Mac, copy the text in another app, then go into Terminal and choose Edit > Paste.

How do you open Command Prompt in a folder?

Go into the folder and Shift+Right-Click, then select Open PowerShell window here, or Open in Terminal, to open Command Prompt in a folder. On Mac, right-click the folder and select New Terminal at Folder from the menu.

How do you navigate Command Prompt?

Use the cd command to change directories in Command Prompt. To access another drive, type the drive letter followed by a : (C:, D:, etc.). View the contents of a folder using the dir command.

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