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What is Command Line Interface (CLI)?


C:\>npm install mysoftware

CLI stands for:

  • Command Line Interface
  • Command Line Interpreter
  • Command Line Input


Command Line Input

CLI is a command line program that accepts text input to execute operating system functions.

In the 1960s, using only computer terminals, this was the only way to interact with computers.

In the 1970s an 1980s, command line input was commonly used by Unix systems and PC systems like MS-DOS and Apple DOS.

Today, with graphical user interfaces (GUI), most users never use command-line interfaces (CLI).

However, CLI is still used by software developers and system administrators to configure computers, install software, and access features that are not available in the graphical interface.


Examples

The software package manager npm uses command line input to install software:

Windows Example

C:\>npm install mysoftware

Mac OS Example

>npm install mysoftware

You can navigate your folders (directories) with command line commands:

Windows Example

C:\Users\myuser>cd ..
C:\Users\>cd ..
C:\>

Use CLI commands with great attention!!!

Wrong use can easily delete files or destroy your computer system completely.


Basic Linux CLI Commands

CommandDescription
lsList the directory (folder) system.
cd pathnameChange directory (folder) in the file system.
cd ..Move one level up (one folder) in the file system.
cpCopy a file to another folder.
mvMove a file to another folder.
mkdirCreates a new directory (folder).
rmdirRemove a directory (folder).
clearClears the CLI window.
exitCloses the CLI window.
man commandShows the manual for a given command.

Basic Windows CLI Commands

CommandDescription
dirList the directory (folder) system.
cd pathnameChange directory (folder) in the file system.
cd \Move to the root folder of the file system.
cd ..Move one level up (one folder) in the file system.
copyCopy a file to another folder.
moveMove a file to another folder.
type filenameType a file.
mkdir or mdCreates a new directory (folder).
rmdir or rdRemoves a directory (folder).
clsClears the CLI window.
exitCloses the CLI window.
help commandShows the manual for a given command.

DOS Commands Help

You can display all available commands with the help command:

Example

C:\Users\myuser>help
ASSOC Displays or modifies file extension associations.
ATTRIB Displays or changes file attributes.
BREAK Sets or clears extended CTRL+C checking.
BCDEDIT Sets properties in boot database to control boot loading.
CACLS Displays or modifies access control lists (ACLs) of files.
CALL Calls one batch program from another.
CD Displays the name of or changes the current directory.
CHCP Displays or sets the active code page number.
CHDIR Displays the name of or changes the current directory.
CHKDSK Checks a disk and displays a status report.
CHKNTFS Displays or modifies the checking of disk at boot time.
CLS Clears the screen.
CMD Starts a new instance of the Windows command interpreter.
COLOR Sets the default console foreground and background colors.
COMP Compares the contents of two files or sets of files.
COMPACT Displays or alters the compression of files on NTFS partitions.
CONVERT Converts FAT volumes to NTFS. You cannot convert the current drive.
COPY Copies one or more files to another location.
DATE Displays or sets the date.
DEL Deletes one or more files.
DIR Displays a list of files and subdirectories in a directory.
DISKPARTDisplays or configures Disk Partition properties.
DOSKEY Edits command lines, recalls Windows commands, and creates macros.
DRIVERQUERY Displays current device driver status and properties.
ECHO Displays messages, or turns command echoing on or off.
ENDLOCALEnds localization of environment changes in a batch file.
ERASE Deletes one or more files.
EXIT Quits the CMD.EXE program (command interpreter).
FC Compares two files or sets of files, and displays the differences between them.
FIND Searches for a text string in a file or files.
FINDSTR Searches for strings in files.
FOR Runs a specified command for each file in a set of files.
FORMAT Formats a disk for use with Windows.
FSUTIL Displays or configures the file system properties.
FTYPE Displays or modifies file types used in file extension associations.
GOTO Directs the Windows command interpreter to a labeled line in a batch program.
GPRESULTDisplays Group Policy information for machine or user.
GRAFTABLEnables Windows to display an extended character set in graphics mode.
HELP Provides Help information for Windows commands.
ICACLS Display, modify, backup, or restore ACLs for files and directories.
IF Performs conditional processing in batch programs.
LABEL Creates, changes, or deletes the volume label of a disk.
MD Creates a directory.
MKDIR Creates a directory.
MKLINK Creates Symbolic Links and Hard Links.
MODE Configures a system device.
MORE Displays output one screen at a time.
MOVE Moves one or more files from one directory to another directory.
OPENFILES Displays files opened by remote users for a file share.
PATH Displays or sets a search path for executable files.
PAUSE Suspends processing of a batch file and displays a message.
POPD Restores the previous value of the current directory saved by PUSHD.
PRINT Prints a text file.
PROMPT Changes the Windows command prompt.
PUSHD Saves the current directory then changes it.
RD Removes a directory.
RECOVER Recovers readable information from a bad or defective disk.
REM Records comments (remarks) in batch files or CONFIG.SYS.
REN Renames a file or files.
RENAME Renames a file or files.
REPLACE Replaces files.
RMDIR Removes a directory.
ROBOCOPYAdvanced utility to copy files and directory trees.
SET Displays, sets, or removes Windows environment variables.
SETLOCALBegins localization of environment changes in a batch file.
SC Displays or configures services (background processes).
SCHTASKSSchedules commands and programs to run on a computer.
SHIFT Shifts the position of replaceable parameters in batch files.
SHUTDOWNAllows proper local or remote shutdown of machine.
SORT Sorts input.
START Starts a separate window to run a specified program or command.
SUBST Associates a path with a drive letter.
SYSTEMINFO Displays machine specific properties and configuration.
TASKLISTDisplays all currently running tasks including services.
TASKKILLKill or stop a running process or application.
TIME Displays or sets the system time.
TITLE Sets the window title for a CMD.EXE session.
TREE Graphically displays the directory structure of a drive or path.
TYPE Displays the contents of a text file.
VER Displays the Windows version.
VERIFY Tells Windows whether to verify that your files are written correctly to a disk.
VOL Displays a disk volume label and serial number.
XCOPY Copies files and directory trees.
WMIC Displays WMI information inside interactive command shell.

Command Help

For more information on a specific command, type help + command-name

Example

C:\Users\myuser>help date
Displays or sets the date.

DATE [/T | date]

Type DATE without parameters to display the current date setting and
a prompt for a new one. Press ENTER to keep the same date.

If Command Extensions are enabled the DATE command supports
the /T switch which tells the command to just output the
current date, without prompting for a new date.