How To Run a File in Command Prompt in 4 Easy Steps

Updated June 24, 2022

Microsoft Windows offers many advanced features to help your computer run smoothly. The command prompt application is one such feature, and you can use it to run specific commands for the system or even launch applications and run .exe type files. Understanding what the command prompt is and how to use it to run a file can help you navigate computer issues or launch files with administrative privileges. In this article, we explain what the command prompt application is and how to run a file in command prompt in four easy steps.

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What is the command prompt app?

The command prompt app is a Microsoft Windows command interpreter application that allows users to execute commands on specific files, programs or features by using command lines. Command lines are short lines of code that interact with the files or programs. Users often utilize the command prompt app to force programs to run, to troubleshoot specific Windows features or launch .exe files with administrative privileges. Using the command prompt can require some basic coding knowledge and an understanding of the Windows operating system layout.

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How to run a file in command prompt

Running a file in command prompt requires specific steps to locate and launch the file successfully. Follow these four steps to run a file in command prompt:

1. Open command prompt

There are several ways to open the command prompt app. The app is a standard feature in Windows, and you can open it using any of the following ways:

  • Keyboard shortcuts: Press the "Windows logo" key and "R" on your keyboard at the same time and then type "CMD" into the search bar. Alternatively, you can press the "Windows logo" key and "X" simultaneously and press the "Command Prompt (Admin)" in the power menu.

  • Search menu: Press the "Windows logo" key on your keyboard or click on the bottom left-hand corner of your operating system screen where the Windows logo appears. This opens a menu of your applications, and you can search for command prompt by typing "command prompt" into the search bar.

  • File explorer: You can navigate to a specific file pathway in your hard drive to find and run command prompt. Try this pathway: C:\Windows\System32.

2. Open the file pathway

To open the correct file, direct the command prompt app to the correct file path in your Windows by using this command template: cd [file path]. Ensure you're using lowercase letters and that you include a space between cd and the file path. The bracketed file path in the command template is a placeholder for the specific pathway where your .exe file resides. For example, if you want to run a program within Microsoft Office, you'd type in the following command:

cd C:\program files\Microsoft Office

Press the "Enter" key once you verify the correct pathway for your .exe file. The command prompt typically responds by duplicating the file pathway on the next line if you entered the pathway correctly. Consider the details of your pathway for accuracy, including backslashes and spelling.

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3. Execute the file

Because you've already opened the file's directory pathway, you can next command the file to run using its .exe file, which is the executable file that allows a specific program to run. At the end of the file's directory pathway, form your command using this command template: start [file name ending in .exe]. For example, if you're running your computer's antivirus software, your command line might look similar to this:

cd C:\program Files\antivirus\application

C:\program Files\antivirus\application start antivirus.exe

After you enter the .exe file name, press "Enter" on your keyboard. This automatically executes the .exe file and launches the program attached to the executable file. If your program doesn't automatically launch, check your command lines for accuracy, including the exact name of your file, as issues can be easily resolved.

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4. Launch and use your file

After you press the "Enter" key, your program launches, and you can begin using it. There are a variety of situations in which using a command prompt to launch your application can be helpful. It can help you find .exe files you don't have attached to your taskbar or saved on your desktop. Sometimes, a program can install within an incorrect directory, and the command prompt can help you find it and launch it. And some programs require administrative privileges, so using the command prompt app with elevated privileges helps you launch these programs.

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Basic command prompt commands

The command prompt tool has many other functions. Here are some standard command prompt commands and how you can use them with Windows:

Dir command

The dir command, or "directory" command, allows you to see everything listed in a particular directory. This can include folders, files and important details about each item, such as modification data and memory size. You can use this command to find or launch specific files within hidden or local directories. For example, you can use the command "C:\> dir" to display the contents of your computer's "C drive." This command works for external or internal drives.

Ipconfig command

This command can help you troubleshoot any network problems your computer may experience. The ipconfig command displays information about the network the computer connects to, including your computer's IP address, subnet mask and default gateway. You can use the command for troubleshooting, opening ports in your computer's network or customizing your network with specific permissions or tasks.

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

Chkdsk command

The chkdsk command is a useful command for checking the health and status of a particular disk drive. It can identify specific errors in hard drives and is also useful for fixing certain errors, though the severity of the error may limit the command's ability to resolve the problem. The chkdsk command is available in all versions of Windows and works with both external and internal hard disk and solid state drives.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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