Serious geeks spend a lot of time at the command line. But Windows' antique command line doesn't even resize properly, and it takes a mouse command to paste into (hitting Ctrl+V will just result in ^V being printed). Microsoft's answer to this is PowerShell, an alternative command processor bundled with Windows from XP SP2 to Windows 8. PowerShell can do lots of things, and its default console application is an improvement, too, because you can resize it--but you still can't select text using the keyboard, paste with Ctrl+V, or even resize its font quickly. Plus, the PowerShell command processor itself is not easy to learn, and you may have to adjust your computer's security settings to be able to use it. Take Command 14 is a £64 utility (30-day free trial) that proves the Windows command line really doesn't have to feel this ancient or be this complex. See all software reviews.

Take Command takes a powerful yet simple command processor and marries it with a beautifully modern interface, for a result that leaves the default Windows interface years behind. The command processor, TCC, is a superset of the one built into Windows. So, dir is still dir, and del is still del, and everything you already know about working in the command line is still valid. But there are lots of extra commands, and even the existing commands get switches in TCC their cmd.exe counterparts can only dream of. This means that, like VBScript and AutoHotkey, TCC is a language you can gradually grow into; you can start with simple things, and you probably already know some of it.

As for the console interface: It's done just right. The window is tabbed, so you can have multiple console sessions at the same time. Hitting Shift and the arrow keys selects text. Hitting Ctrl+V pastes text into the console (amazing, I know!). There's an integrated file manager letting you see the impact of your actions on the file system in real-time. And when you're comfortable with the language and feel ready to write some batch scripts, you'll discover the best part: A built-in programmer's editor with a line-by-line debugger.

Take Command is expensive, but if you find yourself spending lots of time in the command prompt or having to manually figure out why batch files are breaking, it's a great investment.

Take Command 14: Specs

  • Microsoft Windows 7/8 Desktop/Server 2003/Server 2008/Vista/XP
  • Microsoft Windows 7/8 Desktop/Server 2003/Server 2008/Vista/XP

OUR VERDICT

For serious work in the console, few utilities (if any) can match the prowess of Take Command. It's not cheap, but for command line jockeys, the savings in time and errors are worth the price.

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