6 smart ways to use the Windows command prompt


select disc 3

… where, of course, you replace the number 3 with the number corresponding to the disc in question. Finally, run:

to do the housework

Your system will wipe the disk, without any partitions or hidden tables disturbing your PC. Then you can click on the start menu, search for Disk Management and right click on the drive to initialize and format it. Note that this just erases partition tables, it does not securely erase all of your data – some of it may still be accessible with file recovery tools. To safely erase all traces (like if you are going to recycle the drive or sell the PC), you will need to right-click on the drive in Windows Explorer, choose Format and uncheck the Quick Format box. Or use a third-party tool like DBAN, which offers a number of other secure erase options.

Get a list of all the programs installed on your PC

When you get a new laptop or do a clean reinstallation of Windows, you might forget some of the tools you use every day that you take for granted. Before erasing your drive, you can retrieve a list of all programs installed on your PC with just one command.

Unlike others on this list, however, this command must be run from within PowerShell, a newer and more powerful tool built into Windows. Open the Start menu, search for PowerShell, and launch a new window. Then run the following command – it’s long, but it’s just a copy and paste command, which will grab the contents of three different registry keys and display them in a text file on your desktop:

Get-ItemProperty HKLM: Software Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Uninstall *, HKLM: Software Wow6432Node Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Uninstall *, HKCU: Software Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Uninstall * | Object selection DisplayName, DisplayVersion, Publisher, Size, InstallDate | Format-Table -AutoSize> C: Users Whitson Desktop ProgramsList.txt

Replace Whitson with the name of your user folder at the end of this command to get the file to your desktop. Note that this won’t include apps from the Windows Store, which you can list by running:

Get-AppxPackage> C: Users Whitson Desktop StoreProgramsList.txt

Again, replacing Whitson with the name of your user folder. There will be a lot of junk mail in this list, but you can manually type in the few programs you want to remember and paste them into your original list, if that’s easier.

look Star wars (No seriously)

OK, that’s not exactly a “useful” tip, but it’s definitely a neat one. If you enable Telnet in Windows (search for “turn Windows features on or off” in the Start menu, then check the Telnet box), you can run:

towel telnet.blinkenlights.nl

To view an ASCII version of Star wars in your command prompt window. It has been around for years and still impresses me.


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