Replace the Command Prompt With PowerCmd

Anyone who has used Windows for a number of years will remember the occasional requirement to work with DOS. Although Windows has a rich and powerful graphical user interface, there are still times when the command line, if not DOS from the days of old, is still useful.

But the command prompt that is available by default is both limited and restricted, and this is where PowerCMD comes to the rescue.

This is a complete replacement for the command prompt that includes a range of features that will be welcomed by power users. If you make frequent use of the command line, you’ll appreciate the ability to quickly access your most commonly used commands and the tabbed interface makes it easy to work with multiple instance of the command prompt at once.

Getting Started

You can download a free copy of the program by paying a visit to http://www.powercmd.com/ and clicking the Free Download link to the upper right of the page.

Once the download is complete, you can run through the installation process in the usual way; there are no options that need changing and you can be up and running in a matter of minutes.

PowerCmd is a free replacement for the command prompt

PowerCmd is a free replacement for the command prompt

If you try to launch the program by selecting the option to do so at the end of the installer, you may well find that an error message appears. This is because PowerCmd needs to be launched with elevated privileges, and if you launch the program using the desktop or Start menu shortcut you will need to click Yes in the User Account Control dialog that appears.

Interface and Access

The program can be launched by using one of the shortcuts as described, but PowerCmd also integrates into Explorer. This means that you can right click on a file or folder and quickly access a command prompt at that location – just right click and select the PowerCmd Here option from the context menu that appears.

PowerCmd integrates into Explorer for easy access

PowerCmd integrates into Explorer for easy access

One of the greatest features of PowerCmd, particularly for anyone who spends a good deal of time working with the command prompt, is the customizable nature of the interface. By default the screen shows a single command prompt that is not too dissimilar to the regular command prompt found in Windows.

PowerCmd's standard view is quite similar to the regular command prompt

PowerCmd's standard view is quite similar to the regular command prompt

If you would like to be able to word with multiple command line, you can do so in a couple of ways. The PowerCmd interface can be divided up in to tabs, each housing its own command prompt, or you can use the split screen option to tile multiple command prompts.

To add new tabs, just click the + button in the toolbar. You can add as many tabs as you like and navigation can be achieved by clicking individual tabs as required, or by using the arrow buttons to the far right.

The other option if to click one of the buttons to the right of the save toolbar button to split the interface up into various tiles – each tile can be home to as many tabs as you like, making it easy to run command in multiple directories.

Tabs and tiles make it easy to work with multiple command prompts simultaneously

Tabs and tiles make it easy to work with multiple command prompts simultaneously

Program Preferences

Click File followed by Preferences and on the General tab you can choose whether or not line numbers are displayed in command windows. There are also other options such as enabling line wrap and window transparency.

Line numbering can help to make it easier to keep track of your commands

Line numbering can help to make it easier to keep track of your commands

Moving to the Appearance tab you can configure the colors that are used for text and background, while the Auto Save tab enables you to set options for the logs that are stored by the program. This provides you with a great way to keep track of exactly how PowerCmd has been used and you can access the logs in future by clicking the File menu and selecting Open Logs Folder.

PowerCmd saves detailed logs so you will know what you have done in the past

PowerCmd saves detailed logs so you will know what you have done in the past

Switch to the Quick Launch tab and you can create shortcuts to the commands you use most frequently so they can be accessed with just a click. Click the Add button, select the executable, command or file you’d like to bookmark and note its position in the list.

You can use the keyboard shortcut of the Ctrl key plus the F key that relates to the position in the list – F1 for the first, F2 for the second, etc. As an added bonus, a toolbar button will be added for even easier access.

Create shortcuts to your most frequently used programs and commands to speed up work

Create shortcuts to your most frequently used programs and commands to speed up work

Handy Features

If you need to refer back to either a command you have typed or a result that has been returned, bookmarks can be very useful. Right click next to the line number you would like to make easy to access and select the Toggle Bookmark option from the menu that appears.

Bookmarks provide a great way to skip around a lengthy record of commands

Bookmarks provide a great way to skip around a lengthy record of commands

When you need to jump between bookmarks you have created you can either right click and use the Previous Bookmark and Next Bookmark option, or use the Shift + F2 or just F2 keyboard shortcuts.

When you are typing commands in the console, there is an autocomplete feature available that will reduce the amount of typing you have to do. As you type a few letters of commands, suggests will pop up that you can select from. You can also quickly access a list of the contents of the current directory by pressing the Tab key and making a selection from the menu that appears.

Auto complete helps to reduce the amount of typing you need to do

Auto complete helps to reduce the amount of typing you need to do

You can also use the up and down keys to access previously used commands so you can re-use them with ease.

When the time comes to close down PowerCmd, you’ll be asked how the shutdown should be carried out. You can choose to just close down and restart afresh next time, or you can opt to save the console sessions and restore them when you restart so you can pick up from where you left off.

PowerCmd can saves its state when you close down ready for next launch

PowerCmd can saves its state when you close down ready for next launch

Wrapping Up

There are hundreds of ways to take advantage of PowerCmd, and whether you use it on a daily basis or just from time to time, you’re sure to find that it is more useful and powerful than the standard command prompt.

Let us know what you think in the comments below and thank you so much for reading!


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