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DOS Prompt

Some people think the DOS Prompt is an icon in the Main group of Windows. Others think of it as C:\DOS>. Well, the DOS prompt is more than that. It's really anyplace that you can type commands for DOS to process.

The standard DOS prompt consists of the current drive (A:, C:, D:, etc.) and path, followed by the > symbol. For example, D:\APPS\INTERNET\NETSCAPE> is a DOS prompt. If you have ever looked inside the AUTOEXEC.BAT file, you may have noticed a line that says PROMPT $p$g; that's what makes the DOS prompt look like it does. Did you know you can change the prompt to say just about anything? Mine is set to show the current time in green on one line, and the path in dark cyan on the next!

For the purposes of testing your computer, DOS prompt usually has a more restricted meaning. It means that no other programs are running, especially not Windows! If you got to a DOS prompt by double-clicking on the DOS Prompt icon in Program Manager, Windows is still running and any testing you do will not be reliable (some programs may not even run). Fortunately, Windows sometimes lets you know it is still there by tacking [WINDOWS] to the front of the standard DOS prompt. If you find yourself in this situation, simply type the command exit. The proper way to get to a DOS prompt from Windows is to choose Exit Windows from the File menu of Program Manager.

If you are using Windows 95, DOS gets a little more complicated. If you need to shut Windows down to properly test your computer, click on the Start button, select Shut Down, choose "Restart the computer in MS-DOS mode", then hit Yes. Another way to do it is to restart the computer, press the F8 key the instant your computer says "Starting Windows 95", and choose "Command prompt only" or "Safe Mode command prompt" from the boot menu.

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