How to Change the Command Prompt to Use With a USB Flash Drive


Using the command prompt in Windows requires you to know how to issue commands and their parameters. One of the simplest ones is used in navigation --- "cd" (change directory). A Universal Serial Bus drive is no different than any folder. If you want to work with the contents of the drive within command prompt, you'll need to change to the root directory of the drive. Drives are labeled by letter, so your hardware configuration will determine which letter the system assigns.

  • Open "Computer" from either your "Start" menu or the desktop. Connect your USB drive; you should see the icon come up with a letter and the drive's label. That letter is what you'll need to use to navigate the drive using the command prompt.

  • Press and hold the "Windows" key (it has the Windows logo on it), followed by "R." This will open the Run utility. If you don't have a "Windows" key on your keyboard, open your "Start" menu and select "Run."

  • Type "cmd" in the Run window, then press "Enter." You should see an instance of the command prompt come up.

  • Type "cd letter:" and press "Enter." Note the colon, and replace "letter" with the letter assigned to your USB drive. If the command was successful, you won't see any error message and the prompt will change to that of the drive letter. So if your drive has the letter "D," you'll see "D:\" in the prompt.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you've booted into only the command prompt and have no idea what letter the system assigned your drive, you can find it through trial and error by changing to each letter (starting with "D") and using the "dir" command to check what directories are present. If the letter isn't assigned, you'll get an error; if it is, you'll be able to see what files reside on it.
  • CD and DVD drives typically have the letter "D" assigned to them.
  • Floppy disks always have the letters "A" and "B" assigned to them.

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