Wednesday, 19 August 2015

50 most useful Command Prompt commands. Part 3

50 most useful Command Prompt commands. Part 3

This issue, Jane Hoskyn reveals 10 command-line tricks for finding files and hidden information on your PC

21 Instantly open the Control Panel

Some of Windows’ best built-in tools are buried deep in your PC. You could create shortcuts that clutter up your Desktop and have a habit of not working – or you could use the Command Prompt to find and open them instantly instead.

For example, type control panel at the prompt then press Enter, and the Control Panel will open instantly on your Desktop. Bit easier than rummaging around in the Start menu, isn’t it?

22 Find a Control Panel setting

Instantly open any one of dozens of Control Panel settings by adding the appropriate word or phrase after the ‘control’ command.

For example, to instantly open the Administrative Tools window, which is buried in the ‘System and Security’ section of the Control Panel and contains tools such as Event Viewer, System Configuration and Task Scheduler, type control admintools and press Enter. Remember to include the space between ‘control’ and ‘admintools’.

23 Find a font

Type control fonts to instantly open previews of all fonts installed on your computer. To see a character in a particular font, click ‘Find a character’ on the left.

24 Find a scheduled task

Type control schedtasks to open the Windows Task Scheduler, then click Display All Running Tasks to see what tasks you’ve set your PC to carry out.

25 Find text in a file

The ‘find’ command can’t find files on your PC, but it beats Windows Search hands down for finding strings of text in documents.

On the downside, it’s very tricky to get the hang of (we speak from teethgrinding experience). This is largely down to the endless parameters required to make the command work. You can’t just type find badger, for example, or even find badger name.txt, which would be a logical way to find the word ‘badger’ in the document ‘name.text’, in whatever directory the prompt is currently located.

Instead, you have to include a parameter such as /b (‘beginning of line’) to make the command work. You can find the entire list of parameters in Microsoft’s TechNet Library (

26 Find even more text in a file

‘Find’ has largely been superseded by its more powerful little brother, ‘findstr’ (short for ‘find string’), which uses the same parameters referred to above and is even more useful for finding strings and incidences of letters, numbers, words and so on in documents. For example, it’ll find all occurrences of your surname in a long document, and specify the lines it appears in.

For a more comprehensive explanation of ‘findstr’ and its variations, check out the Computer Hope guide ( You’ll need a basic understanding of the Command Prompt to make sense of it, so make sure you’ve read all three parts of our series so far before you get bogged down.

27 Find your router’s address

Type nslookup and press Enter to instantly see your router’s server and IP address.

28 Reverse-search an IP address

You can also use the Command Prompt to find out who (or what site) owns a particular IP address. Type nslookup, then a space, then the IP address. The IP address is owned by Google.

29 See the contents of a file

The type command is mainly used for checking the contents of batch (.bat) files, but you can try it on any file. Move the prompt to the file’s location, then type type filename.extension, substituting the appropriate name and extension.

30 Re-type a command

This command isn’t about finding things on your PC, but we thought you deserved a gentle counterpoint to those tricky ‘findstr’ commands. Simply press and hold the right arrow on your keyboard, and your last-typed command will re-appear.