Command Line

Windows DOS command prompt windowSometimes referred to as the command screen or a text interface, the command line is a user interface that is navigated by typing commands at prompts, as opposed to using the mouse to perform a command. For example, the root MS-DOS command line prompt is C:\> (as shown in the picture) and in Unix or Linux may be % or >. Unlike a GUI operating system, a command line only uses a keyboard to navigate by entering commands and does not utilize a mouse.

Because a command line interface requires unique commands, this interface is often more difficult to learn because of the need to memorize dozens of different commands. However, a command line operating system can be a very valuable resource and should not be ignored. For example, users who have Microsoft Windows may find trivial tasks such as renaming 100+ files in a folder a very difficult task; however, this is something that can be done in a matter of seconds through a simple command at the command line.

Text interface with menus

A text interface can be made easier to navigate using menus created with text and ASCII extended characters. For example, many command line text editors have some type of interface with menus and shortcut keys that make navigating the file being edited easier. The picture below is an example of the MS-DOS Editor used to edit files while at the MS-DOS or Windows command line.

MS-DOS edit command window

Although a text interface with menus has a lot more visual appeal than the command line, this interface is still considered a text interface and not a graphical interface.

Related pages

Also see: Argument, CUI, Elevated command prompt, MS-DOS, Operating system terms, Virtual real mode