Lifehacker reader Michael writes in with a nifty tip that was lurking in our comments all along, but deserves to see the bright light of posting. If you’re already using the Unix-like Cygwin, it’s an easy hack to embed Cygwin’s commands into your standard Windows comand prompt; if not, it might be worth checking out the free download. The instructions follow after the jump.
These instructions are for Windows Vista, but fairly similar to the process in Windows XP (check out an XP-specific environment variable tutorial for more clarification.) The steps:
- Find out where your Cygwin installation is on your hard drive and copy the path to its \bin subfolder (usually C:\Cygwin\bin).
- Open the Control Panel, hit “System and Maintenance,” then “System,” then “Advanced System Settings” on the left.
- Click the “Environment Variables” button at the bottom of the new window.
- Scroll through the “System Variables” list at the bottom of this window until you find the line for “Path,” then select it and hit “Edit.”
- Add a semi-colon to the end of the “Variable Value” line (if it’s not there), then add the path to Cygwin’s bin directory. Hit OK on this and any windows opened along the way.
Now you’ve got better directory listing capabilities with “ls,” can SSH into a remote server right from the Windows prompt, and (if you’re a dual-booter or Unix/Linux enthusiast) avoid all those annoying confusions with Windows commands.