Windows Run Line Utilities – CompTIA A+ 220-802: 1.4

Although Windows provides a number of graphical utilities, many of these can be launched from the run line of the operating system. In this video, you’ll learn about some of the more popular utilities and how you can start them using your keyboard.

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If you’ve been using Windows for a while, you’ll notice that there are a couple of options for starting applications. One is that you can go through the menus in your Windows system and find the application you’re looking for, but you can also start applications right from the Run line.

You can usually find this in Windows XP under the Start menu, there’s an option for Run. And in Windows Vista and Windows 7, this is integrated into this command prompt for Search Programs and Files.

You can also start these applications right at the command prompt. So if you have a command window open, you can type in the name of the program you’d like to run and you can launch it from there, as well.

One the most popular programs to run is the command prompt, the CMD. Type in CMD at that Run option and you hit Enter, it pops open this command prompt window. And that’s all running behind the scenes. That’s all inside of Windows. So you can perform all of those Windows capabilities using a number of different command line utilities right here at the Command prompt.

This Command prompt is pretty powerful. You can perform a lot of batch utilities. You can perform automated scripts, all inside of this command line view that you would access using the term CMD at the Run prompt.

The Windows registry is an enormous database inside of your Windows operating system, and it’s organized in a hierarchy. A lot of different configuration options are stored in this massive registry. To be able to edit this registry, you can go to the Run prompt and type REG EDIT, and that will launch this view of the registry editor.

Inside this editor is kernel information, device driver details and configurations, information and configuration about your services. The Security Account Manager information is all inside of the registry. And every user interface, every application you use is probably also going to store information to the registry.

If you’re troubleshooting the Windows operating system, you may be asked to make changes to the registry. So an easy way to start up the registry editor is to simply go to that Run line and type in REG EDIT.

Because you’re making configuration changes to this very important database, make sure that you back up the registry. There are third-party tools that can do this. There’s also options inside of the registry editor itself that would also allow you to back up either sections or the entire registry all at one time.

We would normally start the Windows Services view by going to the control panel, choosing Administrative Tools and having Services under that. But at the Run line, you can also type in Services.MSC and it will also launch the Windows Services view. This is obviously a view that’s very useful if you’re trying to troubleshoot a start-up process.

You can also control background applications this way. Applications that are written with no user interaction are often configured as services, so this would be a good place to enable or disable those capabilities. You can also view, inside of the services, if there are any dependencies between applications, and you can access this very easily just by typing in Services.MSC.

The Microsoft management console is a framework that allows you to build your own management front-end for the Windows operating system. It uses something called “snap-ins” that allow you to create a modular display. And you can configure this however you’d like.

If you use a lot of the Windows built-in utilities, you’ll notice that they are simply a pre-made Microsoft management console view, where you cannot change any of the snap-ins, it’s already pre-defined for you. But by going to the Run prompt and typing in MMC, you can start up an empty Microsoft management console view that allows you to customize it however you’d like.

To start the Microsoft Terminal Services Client– this is sometimes also called the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection– you would simply go to the Run line and type MSTSC, for Terminal Services Client. This is the remote desktop capability. So if you need to access a system that is somewhere else on the network, or you need to connect to a terminal server and be able to use those capabilities, this is the utility that would allow you to do that.

This is also useful if you’re managing a series of servers that may not have keyboards and mice and monitors connected to them. We call those headless connections. So you would use the MSTSC at the command line to launch this utility that would allow you then to connect to those servers.

If you’re managing Windows servers and Windows desktops, then you’re probably looking at a lot of text files. And if you ever need to view or edit any of those text files, you can use the built-in utility called Notepad.

So you can go to the Run line. Simply type in Notepad and hit Enter, and it will launch that utility. Notepad is included with Windows. It’s automatically installed with the operating system. So it’s something you should be able to find regardless of the Windows version you happen to be using.

If you need access to the file system itself, you might want to use the graphical interface called the Windows Explorer. And to start Explorer, you would go to the Run line in your Windows environment and type Explorer and hit Enter. And that way, you’re able to do file management of that computer.

From there, you can view files and launch files and copy files from one place to another. You have complete control over the file system right here in this graphical display. And if you need to access network resources or look at files and manage those files on a different device, you can also do all of that through the Explorer, as well.

If you sat down at a brand new computer or one that’s not familiar to you and you’d like to get more information on the configuration of this system, you might want to use the Windows System Information utility. And at the Run line, you could start that by using MSINFO32, and that will start up the system configuration view that tells you all about this system. It will give you information on hardware resources, so you can see exactly what DMA and IRQ settings might be configured as.

You can look at the individual components, as well, to see what type of video card, what type of audio system is inside of this computer. And you can also see the software environment. You can see what drivers are installed. You can look at print jobs. You can look at what tasks are running. It’s all contained within MSINFO32, or the Windows System Information utility.

For additional troubleshooting, you might want to go to the Run line and type DXDIAG. That’s D-X-D-I-A-G. That is the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, and that allows you to manage the DirectX installation that happens to be on this particular computer.

DirectX is a multimedia API. It’s an application programming interface, so that developers don’t have to write for particular graphics cards or particular audio cards. They can simply write to this generic API, and then Windows does the translation behind the scenes.

So all of those applications that use graphics, that use audio, there’s different types of input capabilities, they are all using this Microsoft DirectX capability. This is also a very nice diagnostic tool, even if you’re not interested in the DirectX side of it, because you’re able to test video information, you’re able to listen for audio coming out of your system. And it just makes a good, well-rounded diagnostic tool.

And you can launch that, of course, right from the Run line, by using the command DX DIAG.