Basic Keyboard Shortcuts For The Windows Command Line

We recently ran a post on useful keyboard shortcuts and other tricks for the terminal in Mac OS X and on Linux boxes. Those options don’t all exist for a standard Windows installation, but the Windows command line does have some useful keyboard shortcuts on offer.

You can get the full Unix-style command line experience in Windows by installing Cygwin, but that’s overkill for many people. However, even in its standard form the Windows command line can be useful for tricks such as producing a list of all the files in a given directory, and some more advanced Windows tweaks are still only accessible via the command line.

Once you’ve got a command line up and running (typing cmd into the Windows search box is a fast way to access it), here’s the useful keyboard shortcuts you can use. Normal editing keys will work as you’d expect, so you can use Home, End and the arrow keys to move around. If you want a basic understanding of command line options, many of the basics explained in our earlier command line primer work in Windows.
Up and down arrows: Cycle through commands you’ve typed in the terminal.

Tab: If you’re typing a command which includes part of a directory name, Tab will autocomplete it. If you hit Tab on its own, it will cycle through the subdirectories under the directory you are currently in in alphabetical order. Shift-Tab does the same in reverse alphabetical order.
F1: Retypes the previous command one character at a time.
F2 followed by a letter: Retypes the previous command up until that letter.
F3: Retypes the last command in its entirety.
F4 followed by a letter: Retypes the previous command with the content up to that letter deleted.
F5: Goes back one command line.
F7: Produces a list of recent commands you can scroll through. (There’s a number listed next to each command — you can type F9 and then that number for even quicker access.)
F8: Cycles back through previous commands. If you type a letter or letters before hitting F8, only commands that start with those characters will be included.

Lifehacker 101 is a weekly feature covering fundamental techniques that Lifehacker constantly refers to, explaining them step-by-step. Hey, we were all newbies once, right?

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


3 responses to “Basic Keyboard Shortcuts For The Windows Command Line”

Leave a Reply