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Windows Command Reference

Before Windows there was MS-DOS which utilized commands entered at the command prompt to execute applications and manage files.  With the Introduction of the Windows Graphical User Interface, power users and systems administrators have become the main users of the command line.

Since the introduction of UAC (User Account Control), some commands need to be executed from a command prompt that has elevated administrator permissions (e.g. from the Run... command type CMD and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter or right-click the command prompt icon and select Run as Administrator).  Be careful when running commands that require these elevated permissions, if you don't know what you're doing you can damage your system.

This command prompt reference tries to break down all the different commands and programs that are used for the day-to-day management and configuration of the Windows OS.  If you find that there's a command missing please let me know in the comments and I will update this list.

This command prompt reference has been updated to incorporate all the new commands that have been added to Windows 8.  All of the old commands that no longer work in the new version of the OS have been removed (e.g. Edit, Edlin, etc.).  Although, some older commands have been deprecated but still work for backwards compatibility reasons and noted appropriately (e.g. AT, CACLS, etc.).

It is worth noting that the quality of the built-in help for each of these commands and programs varies.  Some of them have really good explanations of how to use them by typing the command followed by a /? switch (e.g. EXAMPLE.EXE /?).  While other commands and applications have very sparse help information available.

Additional Reading:

ARP  Network Displays/modifies the IP-to-Physical address translation tables
Example: arp -a
ASSOC General Displays/modifies file extension associations
General Schedules commands to run at a specified time and date. (Deprecated)
ATTRIB     General Displays/modifies file attributes. Without parameters displays attributes for files in the current directory
Example: attrib
General Displays/modifies audit policies.
BCDBOOT General BCD boot file creation and repair tool.  Can copy boot files to the system partition and to create a new system BCD store.
General Boot sector restoration tool.
BCDEDIT General Displays/modifies the boot configuration data store.
General BITS administration utility. (Deprecated, use BITS PowerShell cmdlets)
BOOTCFG General Edit Windows BOOT.INI file settings. (Deprecated)
Batch Sets or Clears CTRL+C checking.
CACLS General Displays or modifies file ACLs. (Deprecated, use ICACLS instead.)
CALL Batch Call one batch program from another
General Change Directory - changes or displays the current working directory.
Example: cd /d c:\windows
General Requests certificates from a certification authority (CA)
CERTUTIL General Display certification authority (CA) configuration information.
CHANGE Term. Server Change Session properties
Displays/modifies the active code page number.
Term. Server Enable, disable, or drain session logins.
General Displays/modifies COM port mappings
Term. Server Changes the install mode for the terminal server.
General Tests network capabilities of a Windows Store app
CHKDSK General Check Disk - check and repair disk problems
CHKNTFS General Check the NTFS file system
CHOICE Batch Accept keyboard input to a batch file
CIPHER General Encrypt or Decrypt files/folders
CLEANMGR General Automated cleanup of Temp files, recycle bin
CLIP General Copy STDIN to the Windows clipboard.
CLS General Clear the screen
CMD General Start a new CMD shell
CMDKEY General Manage stored usernames/passwords
General Installs (or uninstalls) a Connection Manager service profile
COLOR General Change colors of the CMD window
COMP General Compare the contents of two files or sets of files
COMPACT General Compress files or folders on an NTFS partition
CONVERT General Convert a FAT drive to NTFS.
COPY General Copy one or more files to another location
Batch VBScript interrupter
DATE General Display or set the date
DEFRAG General Defragment hard drive
DEL/ERASE General Delete one or more files
DIR General Display a list of files and folders
DISKCOMP General Compare the contents of two floppy disks
DISKCOPY General Copy the contents of one floppy disk to another
DISKPART General Disk Administration
Configures RAID storage subsystems
General Manages and updates features and packages in Windows images.
General Logs information about the display system.
DOSKEY General Edit command line, recall commands, and create macros
General Allows applications to open files in specified directories as if they were in the current directory.
Displays a list of installed device drivers and properties.
ECHO Batch Display message on screen
ENDLOCAL Batch End localization of environment changes in a batch file
General Manages Extensible Storage Engine databases.
EVENTCREATE General Add a message to the Windows event log
EXIT General Quit the current script/routine and set an ERRORLEVEL
EXPAND General Uncompresses files
FC General Compare two files
FIND General Search for a text string in a file
FINDSTR General Search for strings in files
Displays user information on systems running the Finger service.
General Filter Manager Control Program
General Configures features on Demand User Experience Tool.
FOR Batch Loop command: all options Files, Directory, List
FORFILES General Batch process multiple files
FORMAT General Format a disk
FSUTIL General File and Volume utilities (more information)
FTP General
Transfers files a remote computer, Trivial File Transfer Protocol
FTYPE General Display or modify file types used in file extension associations
GOTO Batch Direct a batch program to jump to a labeled line
General Displays the Resultant Set of Policy (RSoP)
GPUPDATE General Forces an update of the Group Policy settings.
General Displays the Media Access Control (MAC) address of the NICs.
HELP General Online Help
HOSTNAME General Prints the name of the current host.
General Compiles custom dictionaries for handwriting recognition.
General Installs compiled custom dictionary for handwriting recognition.
ICACLS General Change file and folder permissions
IF Batch Conditionally perform a command
IPCONFIG Network Displays the IP configuration for the computer
Network Microsoft iSCSI Initiator
IRFTP General
Sends files over an infrared link.
Active Direct. Lists or purges Kerberos service tickets.
Active Direct. Configures the connections to a Kerberos server.
Starts the Kernel Transaction Manager utility.
LABEL General Edit a disk label
General Generates a report about activation and registration data (ubergeek)
LOGMAN General Manage Performance Monitor
LOGOFF General Log a user off
MAKECAB General Cabinet Maker - Data Compression Tool
General Configures BitLocker Drive Encryption
MD/MKDIR General Create new folders
MKLINK General Create a symbolic link (linkd)
MODE General Configure a system device
MORE General Display output, one screen at a time
Queries multicast routers for information (interfaces and neighbors).
MOUNTVOL General Manage a volume mount point
MOVE General Move files from one folder to another
General Invokes a Microsoft Support Diagnostic Tool
MSG General Send a message
MSIEXEC General Microsoft Windows Installer
MSINFO32 General Windows NT diagnostics
MSTSC General Terminal Server Connection (Remote Desktop Protocol)
General Starts the Multi-language User Interface unattended setup process.
NET Network Manage network resources
General WinPE network installer
NETSH Network Configure Network Interfaces, Windows Firewall & Remote access
NBTSTAT Network Display networking statistics (NetBIOS over TCP/IP)
NETSTAT Network Display networking statistics (TCP/IP)
General Active Directory diagnostic tool.
NSLOOKUP Network Domain name server (DNS) lookup
OPENFILES General Query or display open files
General Windows Optional Component Setup tool (installs Windows features).
PATH General Display or set a search path for executable files
PATHPING Network Trace route plus network latency and packet loss
PAUSE Batch Suspend processing of a batch file and display a message
PERFMON General Performance Monitor
PING Network Tests network connection with a remote network device.
PKGMGR General Starts the Windows Package Manager
General Automates the installation of hardware device drivers.
General Microsoft PnP Utility, installs Plug and Play devices
POPD Batch Restore the previous value of the current directory saved by PUSHD
POWERCFG General Configure power settings
PRINT General Print a text file
PROMPT General Change the command prompt
PUSHD Batch Save and then change the current directory
General Manages the Windows To Go startup options
Term. Server Displays a list of all terminal servers on the network.
QPROCESS Term. Server Displays information about processes running on a terminal server.
QUERY Term. Server Displays information about processes, sessions, and terminal servers.
QUSER Term. Server Displays information about user sessions on a terminal server.
QWINSTA Term. Server Displays information about sessions on a terminal server.
Network Manage Remote Access Dialer AutoDial addresses.
RASDIAL Network Manages a dial-up or virtual private network (VPN) connection
RASPHONE Network Manages RAS connections
General Configures the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE)
RECIMG General Creates custom recovery image for Refresh Your PC recovery option.
RECOVER General Recover a damaged file from a defective disk.
REG General Registry: Read, Set, Export, Delete keys and values
REGEDIT General Import or export registry settings
REGSVR32 General Register or unregisters a DLL in the Windows Registry
REGINI General Change Registry Permissions
General Registers CIM (Common Information Model) Provider into system
General Creates new performance logs from data in existing performance logs
REM Batch Record comments (remarks) in a batch file
REN/RENAME General Rename a file(s)
General BitLocker drive encryption repair tool.
Adds new files to a directory instead of replacing existing files.
RESET SESSION Term. Server Enables you to reset (delete) a session on a terminal server.
RD/RMDIR General Delete folder(s)
ROBOCOPY General Copies file(s)/folder(s)
ROUTE Network Manipulate network routing tables
Network Pings a server using RPC
RUNAS General Execute a program under a different user account
RUNDLL32 General Run a DLL command (add/remove print connections)
Term. Server Enables you to reset (delete) a session on a terminal server.
SC General Queries or manages Windows services
SCHTASKS General Schedule a command to run at a specific time
General Application Compatibility Database Installer
General Windows Security Configuration Editor
SET General Display, set, or remove environment variables
SETLOCAL Batch Control the visibility of environment variables
Active Direct.
Manages the Service Principal Names (SPN) directory
SETX General Set environment variables permanently
SFC General System File Checker 
SHIFT General Shift the position of replaceable parameters in a batch file
SHUTDOWN General Shutdown the computer
SLMGR General Software Licensing Management
SORT General Sorts input
START Batch Start a program or command in a separate window
SUBST General Associate a path with a drive letter
General WinSxs Tracing Utility
SYSTEMINFO General List system configuration
General Takes ownership of file(s) or folder(s)
TASKLIST General List running applications and services
TASKKILL General Remove a running process from memory
General Manages Telephony Application Programming Interface (TAPI) client.
Network Communicates with a computer running the Telnet Server service
Network Transfers files a remote computer, Trivial File Transfer Protocol
TIME General Display or set the system time
TIMEOUT Batch Delay processing of a batch file
TITLE Batch Set the window title for a CMD.EXE session.
General Creates/removes TPM virtual smart cards
TRACERPT General Parses Event Trace log files.
TRACERT Network Trace route shows the network path to a remote IP address.
TREE General Graphical display of folder structure
TSCON Term. Server Connects to another session on a terminal server.
Term. Server Disconnects a session from a terminal server.
Term. Server Ends a process running in a session on a terminal server.
TYPE General Display the contents of a text file
General Writes performance data to the command window or to a log file.
General Windows Time Zone Utility
UNLODCTR General Removes counter names and explains specified extensible counter.
General Creates, displays and deletes stored credentials.
VER General Display version information
General Driver Verifier Manager
VERIFY General Verify that files have been saved
VOL General Display a disk label
General Displays volume shadow copy backups, writers and providers.
W32TM General Windows Time Service Diagnostic Tool
General Used to synchronize computers across a network.
General Back up and restore your operating system
General Creates and manages subscriptions to events from remote computers
General Retrieves information about event logs and publishers
WHERE General Locate and display files in a directory tree
WHOAMI General Output the current user name and domain
WINRM General Windows Remote Management
WINRS General Windows Remote Shell
General Assesses various features, capabilities, and attributes of a computer
Example: winsat formal -v
WMIC General Displays WMI information
General Manages the Windows Remote Management (WinRM) service.
XCOPY General Copy file(s) and folder(s)
General Extensible Wizard, registers pre-configured XML files in Windows.