If you need to execute a command, maybe to use a network diagnostic tool like the ping command or to automate a system restart with the shutdown command, you'll first need to open the Command Prompt program, just like any other program in Windows.
Depending on which version of Windows you're using, that shortcut is located either on the Apps screen or in the Start Menu.
If you can't find the Command Prompt shortcut on your computer, here are some tutorials specific to your operating system that should help:
- How To Open Command Prompt in Windows 8
- How To Open Command Prompt in Windows 7
- How To Open Command Prompt in Windows Vista
- How To Open Command Prompt in Windows XP
In all versions of Windows listed above, Command Prompt can also be opened using the cmd run command, which you can execute from the Run dialog box.
In versions of Windows prior to Windows XP, like Windows 98 and Windows 95, Command Prompt does not exist but the older MS-DOS Prompt does, is located in the Start Menu, and can be opened with the command run command.
Note: Some commands, like the popular sfc command used to repair Windows files, require that Command Prompt be opened as an administrator before they can be executed. You'll know if this is the case if you see a "check that you have administrative rights" or "... command can only be executed from an elevated command prompt" message after executing the command. See How Do I Open an Elevated Command Prompt? for help starting Command Prompt as an administrator.