DOS Command Prompt

What Does DOS Command Prompt Mean?

The DOS command prompt is a critical part of the Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS) command line interface. It is the fundamental setting for the interface, where the prompt sets the stage for executing command lines of code. Up until the emergence of new Windows-oriented graphical interfaces, the DOS command prompt was the most common way to interact with the personal computer.

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Techopedia Explains DOS Command Prompt

The role of the prompt is to show the user where to enter command line text. The most common syntax for the prompt is “C:”, although the drive letter can change depending on the drive that is being accessed. Other files, directories and subdirectories may be added to the prompt, depending on where the user has navigated within the operating system.

Although MS-DOS interfaces gave way to new Windows-based interfaces, Windows still included an MS-DOS “shell” where users could still encounter the familiar DOS command prompt in order to execute code, check files and directories, and do all of the other things that were possible with the original command line systems. Over time, when Windows became a full-fledged operating system, these shell interfaces became artificial visual re-creations of the DOS operating system, not actual instances of MS-DOS.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.