DOS lives! Secrets of the Windows command prompt

Don't be afraid of a little typing. Lots of good old DOS commands still work in Windows, and often they're the best choice for quick and efficient work.

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Another handy networking command is:

NET USE

The NET USE command instantly displays a summary of anyone on the network using your computer's resources as well as those resources you're using on other network computers. Finding that info that fast in Windows is no easy task. Similarly:

NET SHARE

lists which folders or drives on your PC are available for sharing on the network -- again, not the easiest thing to find using Windows graphical interface.

Mapping a network drive
Want to map a network drive? When you know the drive letter to use and the network path for the drive, it's a cinch:

NET USE X: \\XOG\PUBLIC

The command above assigns local drive letter X to the network computer XOG's shared directory named PUBLIC. The command is so fast it will floor you, especially when you're used to the multiple steps required to map a drive graphically. And to remove the drive (to stop sharing it), you use:

NET USE X: /DELETE

The /DELETE switch doesn't erase the drive; it simply disconnects it from your PC.

Troubleshooting network problems
Another network command is IPCONFIG. While this one isn't ideal for use everyday use, it's excellent for network troubleshooting. To give it a whirl, just type:

IPCONFIG

The output lists information about your PC's network connection, including the IP address. As you most likely already know, that IP address is a vital piece of information used when setting up or troubleshooting the network. For example, when IPCONFIG lists an IP address you weren't expecting, it generally means that your PC isn't talking with the network.

To see the full details of your network configuration, type IPCONFIG /ALL , which lists not only the IP address, but network connections, your gateway and other networking details like your MAC address.

As you may know, the MAC address is a unique series of numbers assigned to every network adapter. MAC stands for Media Access Control, and the number is often used for wireless network security.

If you don't want to wade through all that IPCONFIG /ALL info to find your MAC address, just type:

GETMAC

Quickly and diligently, your PC's MAC address appears. (Either that, or Steve Jobs shows up and tries to convince you to buy an iMac.)

File association fixes

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One place where the command prompt really shows its muscle is with file associations, which Windows handles in only the most cursory way. (Windows makes a guess about which files should be associated with which programs by looking at the filename extension. That's it.)

To keep track of filename extensions and the programs associated with those extensions, Windows maintains a database (in the Registry). You can use the Registry to fish out various filename extensions and the programs associated with them, or you can use the command prompt, which I believe works better and more effectively.

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