What was that cool thing you just did?

Back when I started at Microsoft, the big product was MS-DOS 5.  Of all the features in MS-DOS 5, my hands down favorite (and one I still use today) was DosKey.  You remember DosKey... It was the utility that made F7 one of the most useful keys on your keyboard.

Prior to starting here, I was a MS-DOS 3.x and 4.01 user (depending on whether I was at home or in the lab at school) and became pretty comfortable with the command line interface.  To this day, one of the first things I do after booting my PC is to launch a command prompt.

Every so often, someone will stop by my office while I'm working and ask me "What did you just do?  That was cool."  The "what" was pressing F7 from within a Command Prompt window.

Re-typing short commands is easy and quick, once the commands get lengthy (to me, that means 30+ characters), using the F7 key is a real time saver.  Just scroll through the list, when you find your desired command, press the Enter key and you're finished. 

This even works inside of many command line utilities (ex: cordbg)!

Happily, DosKey lives on.  My F7 key still gets it's daily workout and I can still create and use custom command line macros.  For more information on DosKey in Windows XP, check out the docs here.  Scroll down for the list of shortcut keys.  Scroll a little further for macro syntax.

Have fun!

[Edit: Fix sentence structure]

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

Comments (6)

  1. Don Newman says:

    For years I have been using F5 to go back through my command list which takes them back out of the list if you go to prior one. F7 will be my new go-to key now! You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks but you can still teach an old dog old tricks.

    And now to impress the geeks in my circle even more I can tell them who is responsible for this god-send when I pass it on.

  2. patag says:

    I too am a huge doskey fan! Back when you had to tweak autoexec.bat and config.sys, I would make sure doskey was loaded on bootup. I hated it when I would open up a command prompt and attempt to use doskey, but it wasn’t in memory.

    I still use it all the time today. I’m more of a up arror / down arror fan. Shows how awesome and simple the program was / is.

  3. Trevor says:

    I generally use F3 and up/down

  4. David Kline says:


    I use the up/down keys as well. Another plus to using F7 is you can get the command ID and feed it to F9 for another nice shortcut. 🙂


  5. ShadowChaser says:

    Wow, I had no clue that F7 did that until now, *lol*. I always just used the arrow keys to scroll through using DosKey 😉

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