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For the:
Halifax Computer Club
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

This time I have decided to forego my usual tips in favour of...

One of the reasons some people shun DOS is because they believe it is hard to learn. This idea came about primarily from those marketing other operating systems. They touted how nuch easier it was to point at pictures and use menus to get the computer to do its work as compared to typing at a command line. This ignored that one had to naviagte all those menus most the time, and ignored that DOS also offered GUI (Graphic User Interface) shells.

However, command-line DOS is actually easy to learn because for the most part, the command names reflect the task needing to be done. So to make a directory, use the "Make Directory" command, which has been conveniently abbreviated to "MD". Removing a directory only requies using the "Remove Directory" command, again abbreviated (RD).

To copy a file, use COPY, to move a file use MOVE. A file's attributes are added, removed or changed using the "Attribute" command (ATTRIB); two files may be compared using the "File Compare" command (FC); to find a file containing specific text, use FIND, and so on. If one wants to create a file, use the DOS editor called - guess what? - EDIT. Could it be any more logical and simple?

Here are a few others:

BACKUP Creates file backups.
FORMAT Formats a floppy, hard, or USB drive.
HELP Displays the "Help" file system.
LABEL Labela a disc.
MEM Details memory usage.
REN Renames a file.
SETVER Sets the DOS version for older commands.
TREE Shows a graphical representation of the directory tree.
UNDELETE Undeletes one or more files.

Most command formats follow the syntax ("sentence" structure) of


...in the cases where a file is moved or copied.



...where a file is being renamed or two files compared.

For basic usage of any DOS command, enter this:


A short tutorial will appear showing the command's syntax and a list of switches (command modifiers). Some versions will also give you the purpose of the given command.

DOS is also easy in usage. One may be anywhere in DOS - any drive, any directory, any subdirectory - and from there do any operation anywhere else in DOS without having to go there first. So essentially one has remote control. GUI systems force one to call up a folder tree and climb all over it to do an operation.

Basic DOS takes only a little time to learn and can be a boost of computer knowledge for most. Since DOS or a DOS emulator is included with most modern operating systems, DOS can be used to automate most of the tedium associated with constant menu perusing for every operation.

The Power is at the Command Line!

Richard Bonner is a DOS power user and has his own DOS website:

The DOS Operating System

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