How To Command The Command Box Properties

Bonus Tips Included


The Command Box

command-box-feature-imageIn the old days, it used to be called a DOS Box, but times change. Thankfully, it remains the same steadfast utility it has always been and power users, myself included, can’t seem to live without. There is now what is called the Power Shell which seems to be taking over the old DOS Box’s reign, but I can’t get used to it. Admittedly, I haven’t made much of an effort, either. I am comfortable in the old ways.

There are many things you can do in a Command Box that can’t be done in Windows proper. To see a list of those things, open a Command Box and type help and hit the Enter key. The list is formidable and if you’ve never seen it before now, you might be a bit overwhelmed by it all.

We’re not really here for a course on how to use the Command Prompt so much. Today we’ll talk about how to make it pretty. That is, change its colors, font size, starting window size and position, etc.

How to Open a Command Box

To open a Command Box, use the Windows Key + X Hotkey combination and choose Command Prompt from the Power Menu that pops open (don’t you love these names). There are actually two choices and one of them is for an Administrative level Command Box. For this exercise, it doesn’t matter which one you choose.

Note: Changing settings in the Admin Command Prompt will not affect the other “normal” Command Prompt, or vice versa. They are treated individually.

The Command Box Properties Sheet

Once the Command Box opens, Right-click on the Title Bar and choose Properties in the Context Menu. Hey, I swear I didn’t have anything to do with Microsoft’s naming conventions. Really!


dos-box-menu

This will open the Properties Sheet and it has several tabs across the top.

The only tab we’ll discuss today is the Layout Tab. You can play with the others all you like in order to set things up exactly how you want. For instance, in the first image at the top of this post, you can see that the text is yellow and the background is blue. I like it because it is reminiscent of older days when I was younger. The colors can be changed to anything that suits your fancy in the… you guessed it… Colors Tab.

The Layout Tab

dos-box-properties-layout

In the indicated box labeled “Window Size” you can set the number of characters you want displayed across the window (width), and the number of lines (height). By setting this, every time you open a Command Box it will be the same size. I like that.

Note: You can still grab a border and resize it just like any other window.

One of the things that annoys me about every single Windows version after XP is that they no longer remember a window’s last position. This is unfortunately also true with the Command Box; it is just another window, after all. To fix this, you must Uncheck the box labeled, “Let system position window”. (I don’t want the System positioning my window because it suffers from a severe case of amnesia.)


Small Rant

I am lucky enough to have multiple monitors and it aggravates me to no end when windows don’t open back up in the same position at which I closed them. There is a small utility I’ve been using for years that fixes this insanity. I’ll tell you about that in a minute.

In my opinion, this is one of the dumbest things Microsoft has ever done to their beloved operating system. It gets even worse where the new Windows 10 Apps are concerned. To fix that problem, you’ll need to break out bigger guns. I’ll tell you how I fixed that, too.

Bonus Tips

Tip #1

ShellFolderFix – This little utility has spared me a trip to the funny farm for many years now. It will remember what Windows has long forgotten, that being the position and size of closed windows. You can find ShellFolderFix at Major Geeks. It is free and needs no installation.

Tip #2

DisplayFusion – This program is not free but is worth every penny if you own multiple monitors. This is what I use to control on which screen these so-called Modern Apps open up. I want Edge to open on Monitor Number 3, dang it!

This program offers a huge list of features and can be found at the DisplayFusion Home Page and a lifetime license can be purchased for $25(US)  at the time of this writing.

Disclaimer: Neither I nor Dave’s Computer Tips are in any way affiliated with BinaryFortress and there will be no remuneration for mentioning their site and software in this post. I happen to love the program and wanted to share it with you. It’s that simple.

Tip #3

Command Prompt Buffer – Let’s say you’ve been sending several commands in the Command Box. Eight commands ago, you typed in a lengthy convoluted command line with a bunch of switches tacked onto the end of it. To save your weary fingers, and to greatly lessen the chance of a typo, you can simply tap the Up/Down Arrow keys to cycle through previously typed commands. Believe me when I tell you this will save tons of work ~ The Voice of Experience.

I think it defaults to 50 stored commands by default, but you can change that using the Options Tab of the Properties Sheet. Now that you are a fully-fledged expert in silly names, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t know if I should give you a Certificate, or an understanding pat on the shoulder.

Well, there you have it and I hope this has helped you. If you have any questions or suggestions, you know where the comments are– add yours!

Richard

About the Author

Richard Pedersen

Richard received his first computer, a C-64, in 1982 as a gift and began dabbling in BASIC. He was hooked! His love for computing has led him from the old “XT” boxes to the more modern fare and from clunky 10MB hard drives to smooth and fast modern day SSD drives. He has run BBS services, Fido mail, and even operated his own computer repair business.

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