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The Power of PC/MS-DOS Batch Files

Discussão em 'Windows Desktop e Surface' iniciada por Mendázio, 19 de Outubro de 2003. (Respostas: 11; Visualizações: 4532)

  1. Mendázio

    Mendázio Power Member

    The Power of PC/MS-DOS Batch Files


    George Campbell

    Part 1: Getting Started

    One of the keys to getting the most from your IBM-compatible
    computer is learning to make the most of the operating
    system. PC/MS-DOS, while not as simple to learn as the
    operating systems for some other computers, has the
    potential to let you customize your computing and increase
    your productivity.

    When Microsoft designed the original PC/MS-DOS, the personal
    computer was still something of an unknown quantity. Few
    people anticipated the millions of personal computers that
    would be sold. Fortunately for users, PC/MS-DOS included a
    powerful capability: batch processing.

    This series of articles will explore the depths of PC/MS-DOS
    batch processing, teaching you how to automate many of the
    functions of your PC. You'll also learn how to use batch
    files to make your PC do things you never thought possible.


    There are three types of programs that PC/MS-DOS can run
    directly. You are already familiar with two of them. Files
    with the extensions .COM and .EXE run when you enter the
    filename at your system prompt. Batch files, with the
    extension, .BAT, are the third type.

    A batch file is nothing more than a series of DOS commands,
    separated by carriage returns. When you enter the name of
    the batch file, DOS carries out the commands, one at a time.

    Once a batch file is running, you can stop it by holding
    down the key while you press the key. If you
    do this, a message will appear on the screen: Terminate
    batch job (Y/N)? If you press a Y, the batch file will
    abort. Pressing N continues the batch file's operation.

    Page 2

    You can use any DOS command in a batch file, from simple
    ones like COPY to commands seldom used, like ASSIGN. When
    you call a batch file by entering its file name, PC/MS-DOS
    opens the file, and carries out the first command. Once the
    operation of that command is completed, the system prompt
    (A>, C>, etc.) reappears, and the next command in the batch
    file executes automatically.

    There is no limit to the length of a batch file. The
    computer will continue to carry out the commands until it
    reaches the end of the file.


    There are five basic requirements for the structure of any
    batch file:

    1. It must be a pure ASCII file, meaning that no characters
    other than the commands you give, plus carriage returns, can
    be used in the file.

    2. The filename can be any legal filename, but cannot have
    the same name as a .COM or .EXE file in the same directory,
    or the same name as any DOS internal command, such as COPY
    or DIR.

    3. It must have the extension .BAT.

    4. The file must have an end-of-file marker following the
    last command in the file.

    5. Each command must be on a separate line in the batch
    file, separated from adjacent commands by a carriage return.

    Creating an actual batch file is simple. There are two
    basic methods I recommend. Each has its advantages and

    The first method uses the DOS COPY command. Use this method
    for creating short, simple batch files. First, give the
    command: COPY CON [DRIVE][PATH][FILENAME]. Here's a sample


    This command will create the file, STARTUP.BAT, in the
    \BATCH directory in drive C:. When you press the
    cursor will move to the next line on the screen and you can
    begin writing your batch file.

    Type in the first command in your series of commands. You
    can correct your spelling by backspacing and retyping, as
    long as the cursor is on the current line. When the line is
    correct, press to move the cursor to the next line.

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    Now type in additional commands, as needed for your batch
    file, following each line by pressing . This adds a
    carriage return character to the end of the line, telling
    PC/MS-DOS to carry out the command on that line.

    Once you have typed in all the commands to be used in that
    particular batch file, press once more at the end of
    the last line. Now press or hold down the key
    while you press the key. Either operation will place an
    end-of-file character in your file. Press again and
    the computer will write the file to the disk.

    Test this procedure by creating a batch file which displays
    a directory. Follow the steps below to create this file in
    the current drive and directory. At the system prompt,

    or +

    Your drive light will come on, and the file will be written
    to disk. Now, check your work and test the file. Press the
    key, then press . You should see a directory on
    your monitor. Notice that you have simplified the command
    which displays a directory. Now you only have to type a
    single letter, instead of three.

    While the COPY CON method works fine, it's not as convenient
    for longer batch files which might contain many commands.
    If you make a mistake with the COPY CON method, there is no
    way to fix it. You have to retype the entire batch file.
    For this reason, use this method only for short, simple

    When you need to create a longer batch file, use a text
    editor. Just about any text editor or word processing
    program will work. The only requirement is that the editor
    must be able to save pure ASCII files.

    If you use PC-WRITE, your batch files will automatically be
    saved in ASCII. WordStar users must open batch files in the
    Non-Document mode. Microsoft Word users can create batch
    files, then save them in ASCII format by choosing the "No"
    option in the "Transfer Save" menu. Check the user's manual
    for your word processor for its procedures.

    If you're not sure about the method your editor uses, try
    creating a batch file. Save it, then exit the program and
    use the TYPE command to display the file on your monitor.
    If you see your file, without any extra characters on the
    screen, you know that it is pure ASCII, and can be used as a
    batch file.

    Page 4

    Whichever method you use, remember to use the .BAT extension
    and don't give your file a name which would conflict with
    another executable file in its directory. If your batch
    file has a name which is the same as a .COM or .EXE file, or
    a DOS internal command, it simply won't execute.


    When you boot up your computer, several things happen.
    First, the ROM BIOS in your PC checks the system's memory,
    then looks for a disk in drive A: or for a hard disk drive.
    It then loads the system files from the disk into memory.
    These files include COMMAND.COM plus two hidden files. One
    these files are loaded, it looks for a file called
    CONFIG.SYS and carries out any functions contained in that

    Finally, it looks for a batch file named AUTOEXEC.BAT. If
    the file exists, PC/MS-DOS carries out the commands in that
    file. If there is no AUTOEXEC.BAT file, you see the
    standard request for the current date and time on your

    An AUTOEXEC.BAT file can contain any commands you want to
    use every time you boot your PC. Suppose, for example that
    you always wanted to start the program, Microsoft Word, when
    you turned on your PC. Just create a batch file, named
    AUTOEXEC.BAT on your boot disk, or in the root directory of
    your hard disk, using one of the techniques above. This
    file has only one line:


    Naturally, you could substitute the command you use to start
    any program you choose. When PC/MS-DOS finds an
    AUTOEXEC.BAT file, it bypasses the date and time sequence
    and immediately carries out the command in the file.

    Now, suppose you need to change directories on your hard
    disk before starting the program. Using Word as an example
    again, here's a sample file:

    CD WP

    This time, the AUTOEXEC.BAT file tells the PC to change to
    the \WP directory, then start Microsoft Word. It's easy to
    see how you could adapt this to your own needs.

    Now, let's add something else. Many users install memory-
    resident programs before loading an application. SideKick
    is a popular memory resident program. Here's a sample file:

    Page 5

    CD \WP

    Line-by-line, here's what this AUTOEXEC.BAT file does:

    1. Changes to the \UTILITY directory on your hard disk.
    2. Loads SideKick.
    3. Changes to the \WP directory.
    4. Loads Microsoft Word.

    Once again, you can substitute any directory name or command
    for the ones used in this sample file. Try creating your
    own AUTOEXEC.BAT file, using commands you select.


    Batch files can be extremely useful in saving keystrokes. I
    often create them just to avoid typing long filenames or
    commands. Let's look at some ways to help yourself out with
    batch files.

    When you looked at the section on AUTOEXEC.BAT files, you
    learned how to start a program automatically when you booted
    your system. You can use other batch files to start
    programs with just a keystroke or two. Let's keep using
    Microsoft Word as an example.

    As before, I'll assume that we're working with a hard disk.
    Floppy disk users can just leave out the directory change
    commands in their batch files. Here's a simple batch file,
    named W.BAT that starts the program with a single keystroke.

    CD WP

    Now, when you use this file by typing a and pressing
    , Microsoft Word will run. When you exit from the
    program, however, you'll still be in the \WP directory on
    your hard disk. Add a third line to return you to the root
    directory when you exit Word. W.BAT will look like this:

    CD WP

    When you leave Word, PC/MS-DOS knows that the batch file
    still has another command, so it returns to it and carries
    out the next command in the file.

    Suppose that you normally move to another program after
    exiting Word. You can have your batch file do this

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    automatically. Let's try starting Lotus 123 after exiting
    Word. Here's a batch file to do just that:

    CD WP

    You can easily see how many keystrokes are saved by using a
    batch file instead of typing in all the commands. And
    that's just the beginning.

    Batch files are actually simple computer programs. By
    writing these files, you are learning simple computer

    In this first part of the series, you've learned how to
    create simple batch files which save keystrokes. But batch
    files can do much more. Using the full power of PC/MS-DOS
    batch files, you can actually create real programs.

    In future parts of this series, you will learn how to create
    menus to help you or others run a PC. You will also learn
    how you can dial your phone using batch files, create
    software installation programs, control your printer, and
    perform many other operations with a single keystroke.

    More than that, batch files can create systems to protect
    your PC and its files from prying eyes and fingers. You can
    even create a database system with batch files which will
    let you have almost instant access to any information.

    Batch files can use a number of special commands to teach
    your PC to do things you never thought possible. Best of
    all, they are easy to use.

    Part 2: Batch File Menus

    Whether you use a hard disk or floppies on your PC, learning
    to create a menu system can save valuable minutes and make
    your PC easier to use. In addition, if you help other
    people with their computers, installing a menu system can
    help you avoid constant phone calls for help.

    Batch files are an ideal method for creating menus. Batch
    file menu systems are easy to write, easy to change, and
    extremely powerful. You can incorporate as many features
    into your menu as you like, allowing you or anyone else to
    access programs with a single keystroke.


    Page 7

    To create a menu system, you need to be able to write
    information on the screen with your batch file. PC/MS DOS
    gives you a command which makes this easy: ECHO. Here's how
    it works:

    You can use the ECHO command in two ways. Each uses a
    different format. The first format allows you to tell your
    PC whether or not you want to see the commands in your batch
    file listed on the screen. Usually you don't, and the
    command used to disable screen writing is: ECHO OFF

    When you include this command in a batch file, commands in
    that file will not appear as they are executed. This makes
    for a cleaner screen appearance. To turn the ECHO function
    back on, just include the command: ECHO ON.

    The second format for the ECHO command allows you to place
    messages on the screen. You'll use this function to write
    your menu on the monitor. The syntax is: ECHO [message]

    For example, to write the line "Master Menu" on the screen,
    include the command: ECHO Master Menu as a line in your
    batch file. You can control the position of the message by
    including spaces. If you want to center a line on the
    screen, simply subtract the number of characters in your
    message from 80, then divide the result in half. Place that
    number of spaces in front of your message.

    To make a menu or other text screen attractive, you need to
    be able to add blank lines. The ECHO command can do this as
    well, but there's a trick to it.

    Until DOS Version 3.3 appeared, creating blank lines wasn't
    simple. Instead of simply following the ECHO command with a
    space, which creates a blank line in DOS 3.3, earlier
    versions of DOS require a special method. This method will
    work with any version of DOS from 2.0 to 3.3.

    To create a blank line, place the ECHO command on a line in
    your batch file. Next press the space bar once, then hold
    down the key while you type 255 on the number pad.
    The numbers at the top of the keyboard won't work. Doing
    this inserts the ASCII character number 255, which is a
    blank character. This fools DOS into thinking that there is
    a message, and creates a blank line on the screen.

    This method works with the COPY CON method for creating
    batch files, and with most word processors. If your text
    editor doesn't support this function, either use another
    editor or simulate a blank line by inserting a period
    following the ECHO command.

    One final note on the ECHO command: You cannot use the DOS
    redirection characters (< and >) in an ECHO statement. If

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    you do, the error message, "Bad command or filename," will


    Now that you know how to use the ECHO command to create
    messages on the screen, you're ready to create a menu. For
    the purposes of this article, let's assume that you want
    your menu to call Microsoft Word, Lotus 123, QMODEM, and the
    game ROGUE. You can also include a menu choice to return to
    DOS in the menu. Naturally, you will use the programs on
    your disk as replacements for those in this sample program.

    Using the COPY CON command as described in the first part of
    this series, or your favorite text editor, create the file
    MENU.BAT in the root directory of your hard disk or on a
    floppy disk. Don't include the comments in parentheses, and
    substitute names of programs.

    ECHO OFF (Turns off the echoing of batch file commands)
    CLS (Clears the screen)
    ECHO [Alt-255] (Create a blank line as described above. Use
    as many of these blank lines as you like.)
    ECHO[35 spaces]Master Menu
    ECHO [Alt-255]
    ECHO[32 spaces]Do you want to:
    ECHO [Alt-255]
    ECHO[15 spaces]1. Use your word processor?
    ECHO[15 spaces]2. Use Lotus 123?
    ECHO[15 spaces]3. Use your communications program?
    ECHO[15 spaces]4. Play Rogue?
    ECHO[15 spaces]5. Return to the DOS prompt?
    ECHO [Alt-255]
    ECHO At the DOS prompt, type the number of your selection
    ECHO and press [Enter].

    Be sure to place a carriage return at the end of the last
    line of the file, then save it in ASCII format, or press
    if you are use the COPY CON command. To call your menu
    screen when you boot your computer, include the command,
    MENU, as the last line of your AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

    Once again, you can customize this menu screen any way you
    like. Include as many menu choices as you need, and insert
    blank lines and spaces to make the screen as attractive as

    When MENU.BAT is executed, it will write the menu on the
    monitor, then the system prompt will reappear.


    Page 9

    Once you've written the MENU.BAT file, you need to write
    individual batch files for each menu choice. These files
    will call a program when you or the user enters a menu

    Name the files to match your menu selections. In the sample
    menu presented here, the files would be named 1.BAT, 2.BAT,
    and so on. Each of these files will contain the commands
    needed to call the program. Here's 1.BAT:

    ECHO OFF (This line turns off the ECHO function)
    CLS (Clear the screen)
    CD WP (Change directories...not needed for floppies)
    WORD (Call Microsoft Word)
    CD\ (Change to the root directory after quitting Word)
    MENU (Return to the menu)

    Naturally, you'll include the commands needed to perform the
    functions in your menu, rather than the ones used here.
    Floppy disk users can ignore the CD commands in their batch

    Create a separate file for each menu choice. The last menu
    choice, which you should include in any menu system, takes
    the user to the DOS prompt, allowing him or her to use the
    computer for purposes not included in the menu. Here's a
    sample, 5.BAT, for this menu:


    This file will return the user to a clean screen and the
    system prompt.


    Generating screens with the ECHO command is only one of the
    ways you can write information on the monitor. If you
    create a complex screen, you'll notice that when the batch
    file executes, the screen appears rather slowly. This is
    one of the drawbacks to the ECHO command.

    There's an alternative to the ECHO command for screen
    generation. Since you can use any DOS command in your batch
    files, you can use the TYPE command to place text on the

    To do this, create your screen with your text editor or word
    processor. Save the screen as an ASCII file, then call it
    with the TYPE command in your MENU.BAT file. The menu will
    appear much faster, particularly if it is a complex one.
    You can even include boxes and other special characters if
    your text editor supports extended ASCII characters.

    Page 10

    Keep your text screens shorter than 23 lines to prevent
    unwanted scrolling when the TYPE command lists the file on
    the monitor.

    Here is a MENU.BAT file which performs the same function as
    the previous one, but this time it calls a screen created
    with a word processor. The screen file is named MENU.DOC.


    This file is obviously much shorter, and the menu screen
    will appear very quickly on the monitor. The individual
    files which call the programs will be exactly the same.

    In many cases, you may want to eliminate the DOS prompt
    entirely from your menu. That's easy, using the PROMPT
    command. PC/MS-DOS allows you to customize a prompt to suit
    your needs. As an example, you could replace the last two
    lines in the original MENU.BAT file shown above with the
    following line:

    PROMPT Type your selection and press [Enter]:

    This line would replace the normal A> or C> prompt with the
    text following the PROMPT command. The normal cursor
    appears at the end of the new prompt.

    You can even eliminate the prompt completely. Do this by
    using the same -255 keystroke combination used with the
    ECHO command. Just type PROMPT, then hold down the
    key while you type 255 on the number pad.

    If you turn off or change the prompt, however, be sure to
    restore it to its original form in the menu selection file
    which returns the user to DOS. To do this, simply add a
    line to the batch file. This line should contain the
    command, PROMPT, and nothing else, and will restore the
    normal system prompt.


    The menu-creation process can be further refined for
    computers used by more than one person. In many cases, you
    want to restrict certain users to a specific group of
    programs. This technique can even be used to create a
    simple password system. It's not extremely secure, but will
    limit unsophisticated users to a limited group of programs.
    Here's how to create this type of system.

    First, create a batch file called PASSWORD.BAT. Here's a

    Page 11

    PROMPT Please enter your password:

    Call this file from the AUTOEXEC.BAT file, after loading any
    memory-resident programs, and performing any other start-up
    functions. The screen will clear, and the prompt will ask
    for the user's password. If security isn't important, you
    could ask for the user's name instead.

    Now, create a menu for each user, giving it a filename which
    matches the password or name the user will enter. Using the
    techniques described above, you can limit access to a
    specific list of programs for each user. In this case,
    however, don't include a menu choice which exits to DOS.
    Instead, make the last menu choice call the PASSWORD.BAT
    file. If you need to change a user's password, simply
    change the name of the batch file which calls that user's

    If the user needs to use certain DOS commands, such as COPY,
    DELETE, or BACKUP, you can allow the use of a limited set of
    DOS commands by including them in a directory, then changing
    to that directory with a batch file called from the user's

    Once again, this system is not perfectly secure. Any user
    sophisticated enough to use the + combination
    can exit to DOS. When he or she does that, however, the
    prompt will still ask for a password.

    If you use DOS 3.0 or a later version, you can add to the
    system's security. Use any utility program, such as Norton
    Utilities or PC-Tools to change your password batch files to
    hidden files. Anyone doing a directory will not see the
    files on the screen, but DOS knows they are there and will
    execute them normally. Earlier versions of DOS cannot
    execute hidden files.

    As the installer or main user of a multi-user PC, you can
    bypass the password system by having a batch file with your
    password simply reset the prompt and exit to DOS. This will
    allow you or another user full access to the system.

    The next part of this series will introduce a number of
    other DOS commands which are especially useful in batch
    operations. Using these commands, you will gain even more
    control over your PC and its peripherals, increasing the
    power of your batch files.

    Page 12

    Part 3: Expanding Batch File Operations

    If you're like most PC/MS-DOS users, you use a few basic DOS
    commands regularly. Other commands you may not use,
    however, have the power to make your PC even more useful and

    Including these commands in your batch files can add new
    flexibility and let you control your PC better, making it an
    even more powerful tool. Here are some little-known DOS
    commands especially suited for batch files.

    The ASSIGN Command

    This very powerful DOS command tells your PC to send all
    calls for one disk drive to another. Programs often look
    for data on a specific drive. This is especially true with
    public domain and shareware programs.

    These programs assume that the disk containing data files is
    in drive A: or B:. Hard disk users often have difficulties
    running these programs. When the program wants to open a
    file on drive A: and that file is on drive C:, the program
    can't find the file and often just exits to DOS.

    Using ASSIGN, you can tell your PC to look on drive C: for
    files, no matter what the program tells it to do. Here's
    the format for that command:

    ASSIGN [D1 = D2]

    To send all calls for drive A: to drive C:, the command
    would be:

    ASSIGN A = C

    There are a few restrictions to the use of ASSIGN. You
    can't use it while using the PRINT command. In addition,
    FORMAT will not run when ASSIGN is in use. Notice, too,
    that colons aren't used after the drive names when you use
    the ASSIGN command.

    After using this command, you must turn off the drive
    assignment before going on to other computer operations.
    Simply issue the command, ASSIGN, without any drive
    parameters. You can do this automatically in a batch file.

    For an example, let's assume you want to run the game
    program, CASTLE, which looks for a data file in drive A:.
    You have CASTLE and its data file on Drive C:, which would
    abort the program when it couldn't find the data file.
    Here's a batch file to solve the problem:

    Page 13

    ASSIGN A = C

    This file, which you might call PLAY.BAT, solves the
    problem, and returns you to the normal configuration when
    you exit from the game.

    You can also use the ASSIGN command to lock out your hard
    disk if you are testing a questionable program. Just give
    the command, ASSIGN C = A, and the PC won't try to write any
    data to your hard disk. Just remember to get rid of the
    assignment before resuming normal operations.

    The ECHO Command

    In part 1 of this series, you learned to use this command to
    display screen messages. ECHO can perform other functions,
    however, which are useful in batch files.

    For example, you might want to make the computer beep at
    some point during the execution of a batch file. To do
    this, include the following command as a line in your file:

    ECHO ^G

    Type ECHO, press the space bar once, then hold down the
    key while you press the key. This adds a
    character, ASCII number 7, to your command. Whenever this
    command executes, you hear the familiar beep.

    You can also use the ECHO command with the DOS redirection
    characters < and > to send text to your printer or to your
    serial ports.

    Here's a good example: You may need to print labels with
    your return address on them. It's easy, using a batch file
    containing the following lines:

    ECHO Your Name >PRN
    ECHO 123 Your Street >PRN
    ECHO Anytown, Anystate 12345 >PRN

    Add blank lines before and after the text. Adjust the
    number of blank lines to suit your printer and the labels
    you use. You'll have to experiment to get it just right.

    Call this batch file RETURN.BAT, or any other name you like.
    Whenever you execute the file, it will print your return
    address, saving you from starting your word processor to
    create an address label. You can also create similar files
    for other addresses.

    The MODE Command

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    The MODE command allows you to control your monitor, your
    serial ports, and your printer. The command is very seldom
    used, due to its hard-to-remember syntax. This makes it a
    natural for batch files.

    To use the MODE command in batch files, the DOS utility
    MODE.COM or MODE.EXE must be in your current PATH, or on the
    floppy disk containing your batch file. If DOS can't find
    the program, an error message will appear on your monitor.

    If your PC has a CGA or EGA display adapter, you can use the
    MODE command to change from one display mode to another. If
    you want to change from the normal mode to a forty-character
    color screen, include the following line in a batch file:

    MODE CO40

    Check your DOS manual for other screen modes. You can
    include this command in a long batch file, or use it alone
    in a file called 40.BAT.

    The syntax for the MODE command format used to set up your
    serial port is very complex. Using a batch file, you can
    avoid having to memorize this syntax. To set your COM1:
    port to 1200 baud, with even parity, seven data bits, and
    one stop bit, just use the following line in any batch file:

    MODE COM1: 1200,E,7,1

    Later, you will learn how to incorporate this command line
    in a batch file telephone dialing system.

    Many users have a printer connected to a serial port. In
    this case, DOS needs to know where the printer is, since it
    assumes that the printer is connected to LPT1:. Include the
    following line in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file and your PC will
    automatically send all printer output to COM1:.

    MODE LPT1: = COM1:

    If your printer, on the other hand, is connected to LPT2:,
    the second parallel port, use the following line:

    MODE LPT1: = LPT2:

    Finally, you can use the MODE command to set your printer's
    mode of operations, controlling the number of characters per
    line, the number of lines per inch, and whether or not you
    want the computer to keep trying if the printer sends an
    error message to the computer. Here's the syntax:

    MODE LPT#: [characters\line], [lines/inch], [P]

    Page 15

    Following this syntax, to set your printer for 80 characters
    per line, 8 lines per inch, and to retry on errors, use the
    following command in a batch file:

    MODE LPT1: 80,8,P

    The PAUSE Command

    Many time, during the execution of a batch file, it is
    useful to have the batch file stop operations while you do
    something, like load paper into the printer. The PAUSE
    command halts the operation of a batch file temporarily.

    Like many other batch file commands, PAUSE allows you to
    include a message. As an example, you can create a batch
    file which tells the user to put a blank, formatted disk in
    drive B: before a COPY operation. Here is the command to

    PAUSE Place a blank, formatted disk in drive B:

    When DOS encounters this line in a batch file, it displays
    the following information on the screen:

    Place a blank, formatted disk in drive B:
    Strike a key when ready...

    The batch file stops until the user presses any key. When a
    key is pressed, the batch file moves to the next line and
    executes the command there. The command might be to COPY a
    file or files to the disk the user inserted in drive B:, as
    requested by the PAUSE message.

    The PROMPT Command

    In the previous part of this series, you learned to use the
    PROMPT command to replace the standard DOS system prompt
    with a message. This command can also be use to create
    other customized prompts. Including one of these PROMPT
    commands can add productivity to your work.

    This format of the PROMPT command uses the <$> character in
    combination with a letter to change your normal prompt.
    Here's an example:

    PROMPT $n$g

    This sets the prompt to the normal A> or C>, depending on
    the default drive you've set. If you'd rather see a prompt
    which displays the current directory, include this variation
    in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file:

    PROMPT $p$g

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    There are a number of other characters, which set the
    prompt. You can use them in any combination you choose,
    preceding each letter with a dollar sign.

    Character Display

    $t The current time
    $d The current date
    $p The current directory
    $v The DOS version number
    $n The current drive
    $g The ">" character
    $l The "<" character
    $b The "|" character
    $_ (underscore) A carriage return

    Using a combination of these character commands, along with
    text, you can create customized prompts. Just for an
    example, let's look at a complex PROMPT command:

    PROMPT Hello, Mary$_It's $t$_You're in the $p
    directory$_Please enter a DOS command $g

    PROMPT commands must be entered on a single line, so don't
    include any carriage returns. When this PROMPT is included
    in a batch file it will produce a prompt which looks like
    this on the monitor:

    Hello, Mary
    It's 9:25:32.21 (current time)
    You're in the \UTILITY directory (actual directory)
    Please enter a DOS command >

    Experiment with this command to create custom prompts for
    yourself, or to provide information to other PC users.
    Including a special PROMPT command in your batch files can
    increase your productivity and prevent confusion.

    The REM Command

    Working with batch files is actually a form of programming.
    As your batch files grow in length, they can become
    confusing. Inserting comments can help you understand how
    the file works. This is especially important when you need
    to change a complex batch file later.

    The REM command allows you to insert comments in your files.
    Any text in a batch file which follows a REM command can
    contain your comments. These comments will not be seen on
    the monitor, but will appear when you TYPE the file or print
    it out. I recommend using REM comments frequently in long
    and complex batch files you create.

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    Here's an example:

    REM This batch file copies three files to Drive B:
    PAUSE Insert a blank, formatted disk in Drive B:
    REM The next line displays LETTER.DOC on the monitor.

    Using the DOS Redirection Characters

    Earlier in this series, the two DOS redirection characters,
    < and > were mentioned. These characters are a powerful way
    to tell your PC to send the output of files to a different
    place than they would normally go. Using redirection in
    your batch files can be a powerful tool.

    For example, you might want to print a text file from within
    a batch file. Using the TYPE command and a redirection
    character, it's easy. Here's a command which you can use to
    send any text file to a printer:

    TYPE [filename.ext] >PRN

    The ">" character redirects the output of the TYPE command
    from the monitor to the printer. You will use this

    Similarly, to send a directory to the printer, include the
    following command in any batch file:

    DIR >PRN

    It's easy to see how useful this can be. When you redirect
    the output from a command to another device, such as the
    printer, it doesn't appear in its usual place. You can use
    the redirection character to send output to the following

    PRN (a printer attached to LPT1
    LPT#: (A parallel port)
    COM#: (A serial port)
    CON (The monitor)
    NUL (Nowhere at all)

    The last device, NUL, is your computer's version of Never-
    Never-Land. Anything sent to the NUL device simply goes
    nowhere at all. Oddly enough, this is very useful in batch

    Many DOS commands you will use in batch files produce
    messages on the screen. The COPY command is a good example.
    Whenever you COPY a file or files, the familiar message, "#

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    file(s) copied," appears on the screen when the operation is

    There are many times when you don't want that message to
    show, especially when your batch file copies multiple files.
    Having the message appear slows down the operation, and
    clutters the screen you have so carefully created. Here's
    an example of the use of the NUL device:


    Including the redirection character and the NUL device tells
    DOS to send the message, "1 file(s) copied," to the NUL
    device instead of to the monitor. It's very simple.

    Other uses for this function include getting rid of messages
    provided by many memory-resident programs. If you don't
    want to see the message, simply redirect it to the NUL
    device in the line used to call the program.

    You can even use this technique to introduce delays into
    your batch files. Simply COPY a file to the NUL device. The
    longer the file, the longer the delay. Here's an example:


    When DOS encounters this command, it reads the file, then
    copies it right into oblivion. The original file remains on
    the disk, but the time it takes to read the file will simply
    cause a delay in the execution of the batch file. The
    second NUL combined with the redirection character keeps the
    COPY command message off the screen.

    Command Line Parameters

    Since a batch file can contain commands which execute other
    batch files, it is useful to be able to include variables in
    your batch files. DOS allows you to do this with a
    parameter you include when you execute the original file.

    By typing the name of the batch file, a space, then the
    parameter, you can tell DOS that you have included a
    variable in your command. You have used this feature before
    with commands like: FORMAT B: or CHKDSK A:. The drive
    designator in each of those commands is a replaceable
    parameter which you can change each time you give the

    These parameters, when used with batch files can represent
    anything you wish, a drive name, a file, or the command
    which starts another batch file.

    The replaceable parameter is represented in the batch file
    itself with a per cent sign (%), followed by a number

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    between 1 and 9. Whenever your file encounters this sign it
    substitutes your command line parameter for the sign.

    For example, to create a batch file which copies all files
    from either drive A: or drive B: to your hard disk, which is
    drive C:, using a simple command, use C.BAT below:

    COPY %1:*.* C:

    To use this batch file, give the following command:

    C A
    C B

    With three keystrokes, you can save typing in the entire
    command sequence. Notice that the parameter is expressed in
    the batch file with a number (%1). You can use up to nine
    command line parameters (%1 to %9), separated by spaces in
    your batch files. This opens up many possibilities.

    You can expand the C.BAT file above to accept a path
    parameter as well. This lets you specify a directory on
    your hard disk, allowing you to copy the files to a specific
    directory. Here's the new C.BAT:

    COPY %1:*.* C:\%2

    Now, give this command:

    C A TEMP

    This time, your batch file copies all files from drive A:,
    the first parameter, to the \TEMP directory on drive C:.
    Each time you execute the batch file, you can use different
    parameters to control the process. Here's the command this
    batch file has replaced:

    COPY A:*.* C:\TEMP

    It's easy to see how many ways you can use command line
    parameters to control functions in batch files.

    A Batch File Telephone Dialing System

    Now that you've learned some of the DOS commands which are
    especially useful in batch files, it's time to use some of
    these commands for a practical application. Since most of
    us call a small list of people regularly while we're using

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    the computer, creating a batch file dialing system makes

    This system requires a Hayes-compatible modem, and can dial
    an unlimited number of people, depending only on how many
    files you want to create.

    First, create a directory called \PHONE in the root
    directory of your hard disk. Include this new directory in
    your PATH so you can access it from any other directory. If
    you use a floppy-based PC, format a floppy disk to hold your
    dialing system.

    Now, using either the COPY CON command or your favorite text
    editor, create the following batch file, naming it CALL.BAT:

    CD\PHONE REM Leave this line out for floppy systems.
    ECHO Calling %1......
    MODE COM1:1200,E,7,1 >NUL
    CD\ REM Leave this line out for floppy systems

    If you have a 300 or 2400 baud modem, simply substitute that
    number in the fourth line of the file. Notice that line
    four uses the >NUL redirection routine to eliminate the
    screen message produced by the MODE command.

    Now, create a separate batch file for each person you want
    to include in your dialing system. Name the files so they
    will be easy to remember, and give each file the .BAT
    extension. For example, you might create BILL.BAT, MOM.BAT,
    DOCTOR.BAT, or any other filename you might use. Just
    remember that the filename must be no more than eight
    characters long.

    Here's a sample file, named BILL.BAT

    ECHO ATDT5551234 >COM1:

    Naturally, you would substitute the correct phone number for
    the person you're calling. If you are in a non-tone dialing
    area, substitute ATDP for ATDT to use pulse dialing.
    Finally, if your modem is connected to another COM port, use
    that port designator in place of COM1:. Create as many
    files as you like, storing them all in the \PHONE directory
    or on your floppy disk.

    If your modem uses a different dialing command than the
    Hayes-compatible ATD? command, make another substitution in
    the ECHO line.

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    Here's how the system works: To call Bill, or another person
    in your system, give the command, CALL BILL, and press
    . The first batch file, CALL.BAT, clears the screen,
    tells you who you are calling, then sets the communications
    parameters with the MODE command. Next, it executes the
    batch file with the name you used as a replaceable
    parameter, Bill in this case.

    BILL.BAT executes, using the ECHO command to send the
    dialing command and the telephone number to your modem. At
    this point, you can listen to the progress of the call on
    your modem's speaker, or just pick up the phone and wait for
    an answer.

    You can use your dialing system anytime you see the system
    prompt. Many programs allow you to exit temporarily to DOS,
    so you can also make phone calls while using any of these

    You can use DOS batch files as a simple programming language
    to create programs like the dialing utility above. The
    advantage to batch programming is its simplicity. Creating
    a telephone dialing system in most other programming
    languages would take hours. Using batch files, the program
    is finished in minutes.

    A Batch File Database

    Following a similar format to the telephone dialing system,
    you can create a simple database system to store names and
    addresses, using simple batch files. First, create a new
    directory called \FILE on your hard disk or format a floppy
    disk to be used for this system. One again, if you install
    this system on your hard disk, be sure to include it in your
    PATH for easy access.

    Write the following batch file, LOOKUP.BAT, to serve as the
    main program:

    CD\FILE REM You can leave this line out for floppy systems.
    ECHO Searching.......
    TYPE %1.ADD REM This command line parameters displays the file
    CD\ REM Again, leave this line out for floppy systems.

    When creating this file, leave off the REM commands and the
    text following them.

    Now, for each person you want to include in your database,
    create a plain ASCII file which looks like this:


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    1235 SOME STREET
    (555) 555-5555
    REM These lines add blank lines. Use as many
    REM as you need.

    Give the file a distinctive name you'll remember. Use the
    extension, ADD. Store the file in the same directory or on
    the same disk as LOOKUP.BAT. Now, to view the information
    on your monitor, just enter the command:


    Your LOOKUP.BAT file will find the filename you specify on
    the command line and display the information. Of course,
    you might not remember just which file you want to check.
    It's easy to write another batch file which will show you a
    list of files. You might call this one FINDFILE.BAT:

    CD\FILE REM Not used in floppy systems.
    DIR *.ADD/W
    CD\ REM Not used in floppy systems.

    By entering the FINDFILE command you will see a display of
    your filenames for this system. Notice the fourth line of
    the batch file. It reads DIR *.ADD/W. The *.ADD section
    tells DOS to show only those files which have the extension
    you use for your data files. This helps keep extraneous
    information off the screen.

    Now, suppose you want to print one of your files. Here's
    another batch file to do that. Let's call this one

    CD\FILE REM Not used in floppy systems.
    CD\ REM Not used in floppy systems.

    All you have to do is enter a command like this one:


    The file you name on the command line will go directly to
    your printer. If you have included the right number of
    blank lines in your original files, you can use this
    PRINTIT.BAT to print address labels. You'll have to
    experiment to get your files just right for your particular
    printer and labels.

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    Finally, you can write one more batch file which will print
    your entire list of files, creating mailing labels if you
    have formatted the files properly. Call this one

    CD\FILE REM Not used in floppy systems.
    CD\ REM Not used in floppy systems.

    Enter the command, PRINTALL, and every one of your files
    will be printed automatically.

    This address system is only one way you can use your batch
    file database. Another possibility is a recipe database.
    By storing files containing your recipes, you can use the
    same batch files to call up your favorites, print them out,
    or even print the entire recipe database.

    Just remember that any files you store in your batch file
    database must be pure ASCII files, created with either the
    COPY CON command or your favorite word processor or text
    editor. If you use a word processor, be sure to save the
    files in ASCII format.

    The possibilities for different kinds of data storage are
    endless. You also have the advantage of not being restricted
    to defined fields and field sizes, as you do with a regular

    In the next part of this series, you will learn several
    advanced batch file techniques, including ways you can use
    batch files in your programming. That part will also cover
    the creation of a batch file system to control your printer.
    It will allow you to change your printer's output with a
    single command.

    Part 4: Advanced Batch File Techniques

    The first two parts of this series on batch files introduced
    a number of techniques to help you automate many of the
    operations you perform frequently on your PC. This time,
    we're going to take a look at more advanced batch file
    functions, adding even more power to your batch processing.

    Like all programming languages, batch files can perform
    loops and conditional branching. Loops allow your batch
    program to perform the same function several times, using
    information you supply to control the process. Conditional

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    branching lets your batch files test to see if a condition
    is true and, if it is, forces the batch file to execute a
    subroutine. Let's look at conditional branching first.


    If you are familiar with any programming languages, such as
    BASIC, the IF....GOTO sequence is familiar to you. The IF
    part of the sequence lets you test something, while the GOTO
    command tells your program to skip to a subroutine and carry
    out the commands it finds there. This capability is central
    to all programming, including batch programming.

    Before looking at the IF command, it's important to
    understand how the GOTO command works. Unlike many
    languages, DOS batch programs use labels with the GOTO
    command. A label marks the beginning of the subroutine,
    letting DOS know where to begin processing after it
    encounters a GOTO line.

    Batch file labels always begin with a colon ( . The label
    follows the colon, without any spaces or other characters.
    Here are some examples of correct label format:


    A label should be placed on a line by itself, immediately
    preceding the first command in the subroutine. This sample
    batch file, called SAMPLE.BAT, will demonstrate the use of
    the GOTO command:

    ECHO This batch file demonstrates branching.
    ECHO The batch file will skip this line.
    ECHO It will skip this line as well.
    ECHO You are now in the first sub-routine.
    ECHO When you press a key, you will go to the next
    ECHO Again, the batch file will skip this line.
    ECHO And this one, too.
    ECHO Now you are in the second sub-routine.
    ECHO Notice that the file skipped several lines.

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    ECHO Pressing a key will take you to the third
    ECHO Another line skipped.
    ECHO Still another skipped line.
    ECHO Now you have reached the third subroutine.
    ECHO This is the last subroutine.
    ECHO When you press a key, you will exit to DOS.

    Create this simple batch file, using the COPY CON command or
    your favorite text editor. Remember to save the file in
    ASCII format. Once you have created the file, run it. You
    will notice that the lines between the GOTO commands and the
    labels do not execute. Once DOS encounters the GOTO, it
    immediately jumps to the label, skipping all intermediate

    When creating a label, use from one to eight characters.
    Avoid punctuation, and always use labels which are
    meaningful, to help you understand your batch file later.
    Unlike other languages, DOS allows you to use reserved
    words, like COPY and DELETE as labels in your batch files.
    For clarity's sake, however, it's best to avoid labels which
    are also the names of DOS commands.


    By itself, the GOTO command has limited usefulness. There is
    usually no reason to use GOTO unless you are testing to see
    if a condition is true or not. That's where the IF command
    comes in.

    Most programming languages use a command similar to the DOS
    IF command to test for a wide variety of conditions. In
    batch files, you are limited to testing just a few things:

    1. Whether one string of characters equals another.
    2. Whether or not a file exists.
    3. The ERRORLEVEL of a program.

    In this article, we'll look at the first two conditions.
    The third is of limited usefulness to most DOS users.

    The first condition which can be tested with the IF command,
    whether one string is equal to another, is the most common.
    If you remember the discussion on command-line parameters,
    you know that a batch file can use up to 10 parameters when
    you give the command to execute the batch file. An example
    of this might be the command, FORMAT A:. The A: part of

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    this command is a replaceable parameter, used by DOS to
    identify the drive to be formatted.

    By using the IF command in your batch files, you can check
    to see whether a command-line parameter equals a string you
    have specified in the batch file. Here's an example, which
    we'll call TEST1.BAT:

    IF %1. == . GOTO WRONG
    ECHO You typed HELLO.
    ECHO The batch file branched to the CORRECT routine.
    ECHO You didn't include a parameter in your command.
    ECHO To get to the subroutine, type the command:
    ECHO TEST1 HELLO, then press [Enter].
    ECHO You typed something other than HELLO as a
    ECHO DOS recognizes the difference between upper and
    lower case.
    ECHO Try again.

    Let's take a look at some of the lines in this file. The
    first two lines are familiar, turning off ECHO and clearing
    the screen. The next line is new and uses the IF command.

    When you use the IF command to check command-line parameters
    and no parameter is given when the batch file is called, DOS
    normally returns the error message: SYNTAX ERROR. The line
    in TEST1.BAT which reads: IF %1. == . GOTO WRONG GOTO END
    tests to see if no parameter was given. The period (.) is
    used to supply a single character following the %1
    parameter. Without it, the error message INVALID NUMBER OF
    PARAMETERS would appear. This line branches to the :WRONG
    subroutine if no parameter was used on the command line.

    The next line checks to see if the command-line parameter
    was HELLO. If it was, the batch file branches to the
    routine named :CORRECT.

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    Following the second IF line is a line which reads, GOTO
    END. This line comes into play if neither of the conditions
    in the previous lines is true. If, for example, the
    command-line parameter was GOODBYE, the batch file would
    branch to the :END routine, skipping the rest of the file.

    It's important to include a line which branches around other
    lines if a condition isn't true. Otherwise, the batch file
    would simply go right into the :CORRECT subroutine.

    The IF command recognizes upper and lower case letters as
    different. So, typing hello in lower case letters would not
    satisfy the condition in the second IF line.

    Finally, notice that each subroutine in this batch file
    includes a GOTO END line. Again, this forces the program to
    branch around succeeding subroutines, avoiding errors.

    Create this batch file, then run it. The first time, do not
    include the parameter HELLO on the command line. Next, add
    hello to the command, using lower-case letters. Finally,
    include the correct form of the parameter, HELLO. You will
    see the messages in the appropriate subroutine. Be sure to
    use two equal signs (==) in your IF lines. This is

    Creating a Practical Application Using Branching

    While the sample batch file above demonstrates the use of
    the IF and GOTO commands, it doesn't serve any useful
    function. Let's create a batch file which solves a serious

    It's all too easy to accidentally format a hard disk,
    particularly with versions of DOS earlier than 3.0. By
    simply typing the command FORMAT and pressing a key, all
    your hard disk files can be destroyed. DOS 3.0 and later
    add a warning message, but an unwary user or a malicious
    intruder can still easily format any hard disk.

    You can protect yourself against this disaster with the
    following batch file. It's called FORMAT.BAT. Since PC/MS-
    DOS will execute a .COM file before a .BAT file, you need to
    rename the DOS formatting utility.

    Change to your DOS directory, and give the following


    This is the first step in your protection scheme. Renaming
    the FORMAT.COM allows your FORMAT.BAT file to take over when
    the command, FORMAT, is given.

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    Now, create the following batch file, storing it in a
    directory on your hard disk which is included in your path
    statement. Do not include the REM statement explaining how
    to enter the Ctrl+G command. Name the file FORMAT.BAT.

    IF %1. == . GOTO NOPARM
    IF %1 == A: GOTO CORRECT
    IF %1 == a: GOTO CORRECT
    IF %1 == B: GOTO CORRECT
    IF %1 == b: GOTO CORRECT
    IF %1 == C: GOTO ABORT
    IF %1 == c: GOTO ABORT
    IF %1 == D: GOTO ABORT
    IF %1 == d: GOTO ABORT
    ECHO ^G REM ***Hold down Ctrl and press the G key***
    ECHO You must enter a drive designator to format a
    ECHO Enter the command this way...FORMAT A:... using
    ECHO drive designator for the correct drive.
    ECHO Preparing to format a floppy disk.
    FRMT %1
    ECHO ^G
    ECHO ^G
    ECHO You have specified a hard disk for formatting!
    ECHO You cannot format your hard disk from this batch
    ECHO Use an alternate method!
    ECHO ^G
    ECHO You have entered an invalid drive designator...
    ECHO Try again. Don't forget the colon. (

    Let's take a look at the IF statements in this file. First,
    using the technique discussed earlier, the file checks to
    see if a parameter has been included in the command line.
    If not, it branches to a subroutine called :NOPARM, which
    tells the user to include a drive designator.

    Page 29

    Next, the batch file checks to see if the parameter entered
    on the command line is a floppy drive. It tests for upper
    and lower case entries for drives A: and B:. If any floppy
    disk drive designator is given, the file branches to the
    :CORRECT subroutine. There, the FRMT command is given,
    executing the renamed formatting utility. The original
    command line parameter %1 passes to the FRMT.COM program.

    The next four lines check to see if the user entered the
    name of a hard disk, either drive C: or drive D:. Again,
    both upper and lower case are tested. If these drives are
    on the command line, the batch file branches to the :ABORT
    subroutine. That routine sounds an alarm and refuses to
    format the hard disk.

    Finally, if the user has specified an invalid drive, or left
    off the colon ( following the drive letter, the GOTO WRONG
    line sends the program to another routine, which explains
    the error.

    Notice that each routine ends with a GOTO END line. This is
    very important, and keeps the batch file from accidentally
    drifting into another routine.

    You can customize this hard disk protection system to fit
    your particular configuration. Just alter it to reflect the
    drives on your own PC.

    You should be able to think of a number of other ways to use
    this feature of the IF command. Branching is an excellent
    way to add power to your batch files.


    The IF command can also check whether or not a particular
    file exists. This can be very useful. For example, if you
    wanted to copy files from a floppy disk onto your hard disk,
    but only if that file already exists on the hard disk, this
    use of the IF command can save you time. You might do this
    to update files on the hard disk.

    Here is a batch file which does just that. Call it

    ECHO Copying A:%2 to C:\%1 directory...
    COPY A:%2 C:\%1

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    ECHO That file does not exist in the C:\%1 directory.

    After creating COPYIF.BAT, try it out. Put a floppy disk in
    drive A: which contains files which are also in a directory
    on your hard disk.

    Use the DIR command to get a list of files. Now type the
    following command:


    Substitute appropriate information in the command to fit
    your particular directory and files. When the batch file
    runs, it will check the directory (%1) for the file (%2),
    then copy the file from drive A: if it finds the file also
    in the directory on drive C:

    Try this again, but name a directory which doesn't contain
    the file you name on the command line. You can see how the
    IF command works here.

    This is a useful batch file, but it might even be more
    useful if it only copied the file from drive A: into the
    directory if that file did NOT already exist in the
    directory you name.

    DOS can do this as well. To change COPYIF.BAT to perform
    this function, just change the third line to read:


    Make this change in your COPYIF.BAT file, and save it with
    the new name COPYNOT.BAT. Try this new batch file the same
    way you did before. Now it only copies the file from drive
    A: if it doesn't exist on drive C: in the specified
    directory. A batch file like COPYNOT.BAT is one way to
    prevent overwriting an existing file.


    No programming language is complete without a way of
    creating loops. A loop is a way of repeating a routine as
    long as a certain condition exists. DOS allows a limited
    use of loops in batch files, using the FOR...IN...DO command

    These loops are limited to dealing with filenames as the
    limiting structures. Here is the syntax:

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    FOR %%variable IN (set) DO command

    That's slightly confusing. The %%variable is a dummy
    variable, composed of a single character. An example is
    %%A. All this really does is give DOS a handle to work

    The (set) described in the syntax is a list of files. Most
    often, this set uses DOS wildcards (? & *) to represent
    groups of files. For example, typical sets might include
    (*.*), (C:\*.*) or (C:\WP\DOC\*.BAK). You can include
    multiple entries inside the parentheses. To act on all
    .DOC,.BAK, and .TXT files, the set would be
    (*.DOC,*.BAK,*.TXT). You can use either commas or spaces to
    separate the individual files or wildcard entries. Just
    remember that the set you specify is the group of files you
    want to act upon.

    Finally, the command part of this structure can be any DOS
    command. To make this complex command series clearer, let's
    create a sample batch file. What this file will do is
    delete all the files with the extension .BAK in the \WP\DOC
    subdirectory on drive C: This is something most users do
    from time to time. Naturally, you can substitute any other
    directory when you create the file. Call the file

    ECHO This file will delete all .BAK files from
    ECHO If you do not want to do this, press
    FOR %%A IN (C:\WP\DOC\*.BAK) DO DEL %%A
    ECHO All files with the extension .BAK have been

    You can use any DOS command in place of DEL. If, for
    example, you wanted to copy all files with the extension
    .COM from drive A: to drive B:, the command would look like

    FOR %%A IN (*.COM) DO COPY A:%%A B:

    Similarly, to print out all your .BAT files in the \BATCH
    directory on your hard disk, the command would look like


    Page 32

    It's easy to see how useful this looping command structure
    can be in your batch files. You can repeatedly perform a
    DOS command, controlling the files it operates on by
    changing the variables in the FOR...IN...DO command
    structure. Experiment with these commands in your batch


    In the last part of this series of articles, I promised that
    I would include a method of controlling your printer using
    batch files. While the current crop of dot-matrix printers
    have some wonderful capabilities, making use of them can be
    a chore.

    You can either write a short program in BASIC to send
    commands to the printer, or use a special printer utility
    program. Both of these systems work, but take time you
    could spend more productively.

    The problem lies in DOS. In its wisdom, Microsoft wrote
    PC/MS-DOS in a way that prevents you from sending the Escape
    character (ASCII 27) to your printer. You can send almost
    any other character to the printer in a batch file with the
    ECHO command and the redirection character (>). Any other
    character, that is, except the Escape character.

    Most printer commands are preceded with the Escape
    character, so it's normally impossible to control your
    printer from the system prompt.

    For this printer control system to work, then, you need a
    program which can do what DOS can't do. Fortunately for all
    of us, Calvin R. Shields has placed such a program in the
    public domain. A short program, written in assembly
    language, it also illustrates another use of batch files.

    Create the following batch file, using your favorite method.
    Be very careful to type the program exactly as it appears
    here, including the blank lines. Call it MAKE-ESC.BAT.

    A 100
    MOV AX,001B
    INT 17
    MOV BX,0080
    MOV CL,[BX]
    JCXZ 011F
    INC BX
    DEC CX
    JCXZ 011F

    Page 33

    INC BX
    MOV AL,[BX]
    INT 17
    LOOP 0114
    INT 20

    R CX
    n esc.com


    Notice the first line of the file, which sends the program
    to the :START subroutine. There, this batch file calls the
    DOS DEBUG program, using the redirection character to make
    DEBUG assemble the program, ESC.COM, from the assembly
    language routines included in the batch file. This is a
    very creative use of batch files.

    Before running this batch file, make sure that DEBUG.COM or
    DEBUG.EXE (depending on your version of DOS) is in your
    current path. If you are using floppy disks, copy the DEBUG
    program onto the disk containing MAKE-ESC.BAT.

    Run the batch file. You will see a brief error message,
    caused when DEBUG finds the first line of the program.
    Ignore this message. Once the file runs, you will have a
    33-byte program called ESC.COM on your disk. This program
    does what DOS can't do: it sends the Escape character to
    your printer, which must be connected to the parallel port,

    To make ESC.COM work, all you have to do is give the
    command, ESC, followed by a space and the command you want
    to send to the printer. For example, the command which
    resets an Epson-compatible printer looks like this:

    ESC @

    The simplicity of these commands makes controlling your
    printer easy. But who can remember all the commands?
    That's where batch files come into the picture.

    To create a system for setting your printer's
    characteristics, all you have to do is write a short batch
    file which gives the commands needed to set the printer.
    Name each batch file with an easy-to-remember name.

    Page 34

    The batch files which follow will work with any Epson or
    Epson-compatible printer. If you use another type of
    printer, substitute the command for your printer in the
    batch file.

    Let's start with the reset command, which will put the
    printer in the start-up mode. Call this file RESET.BAT.

    ESC @

    Here's another file. This one sets the printer to its Near
    Letter Quality mode. Call it NLQ.BAT.

    ESC X1

    I've included the ECHO OFF and CLS lines to keep your screen
    clear when you issue the commands.

    Here's another sample. Call this one BOLD.BAT.

    ESC E

    By consulting your printer's manual, you can find all the
    commands which make your printer jump through its hoops.
    Write a separate batch file for each command, and you will
    soon have a printer control system which can handle every
    function. You can also combine functions by entering the
    commands, one-at-a-time.

    If your printer is an Epson compatible, the batch files in
    LISTING 1 will handle almost every possible function.
    Again, if you use another kind of printer, consult your
    manual for the appropriate commands.

    Place the batch files and the ESC.COM program in a directory
    which is in your current path. Then, whenever you need to
    send a command to your printer, just give the name of the
    appropriate batch file as a DOS command.

    The next part of this series will show you how to make batch
    files even more flexible, using additional commands and
    external programs. There are a number of commercial, public
    domain, and shareware programs which can add power to your
    batch programming.

    ##End main copy##

    Page 35


    These batch files are designed to be used with the ESC.COM
    program in the main article. If your printer is Epson-
    compatible, the system will work as written. If you have
    another brand of printer, substitute the appropriate
    commands. Create these files using the COPY CON command or
    use your favorite text editor in its ASCII Mode.

    RESET.BAT -- Sets the printer to its default mode.

    ESC @

    PICA.BAT -- Sets pica (10 characters/in.)

    ESC P

    ELITE.BAT -- Sets elite (12 characters/in.)

    ESC M

    CONDENSE.BAT -- Sets condensed type.

    ESC ^O REM **+**

    TINY.BAT -- Sets microtype (20+ characters/in.)

    ESC M
    ESC ^O REM **+**
    ESC S1
    ESC 1

    ITALIC.BAT -- Sets italic mode


    Page 36

    ESC 4

    UNITALIC.BAT -- Cancels italic mode

    ESC 5

    WIDE.BAT -- Sets double-width type

    ESC W1

    UNWIDE.BAT -- Cancels double-width

    ESC W0

    NLQ.BAT -- Sets Near Letter Quality mode.

    ESC x1

    UNLQ.BAT -- Cancels Near Letter Quality

    ESC x0

    6LPI.BAT -- Sets 6 line/in. spacing.

    ESC 2

    8LPI.BAT -- Sets 8 line/in. spacing.

    ESC 0

    10LPI.BAT -- Sets 10 line/in. spacing.

    Page 37

    ESC 1

    BOLD.BAT -- Sets Boldface.

    ESC E

    NOBOLD.BAT -- Cancels Boldface.

    ESC F

    UNDRLINE.BAT -- Underlines all text.

    ESC -1

    NO-UNDER.BAT -- Cancels underlining.

    ESC -0

    2STRIKE.BAT -- Starts double-strike mode.

    ESC G

    1STRIKE.BAT -- Starts single-strike mode.

    ESC H

    ##End Listing 1##

    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 38

    The Power of PC\MS-DOS Batch Files

    George Campbell

    Part 4: Adding More Power

    In the first three parts of this series on batch files, you
    learned many of the techniques possible with PC/MSDOS batch
    processing. By now, you're probably using batch files to
    perform many functions you used to do, one command at a
    time, from the system prompt.

    In this article, which will be the last part of this series,
    you'll learn ways you can expand your batch processing even
    further. Although PC/MSDOS batch files have the power to
    make your PC do things you didn't expect, there are
    limitations to batch operations. Here are some ways to get
    around those limitations:


    One of the major limitations of a PC/MSDOS batch file is the
    inability to insert keystrokes into the batch file from the
    keyboard. You can't stop a batch file, ask for user input,
    then continue with the execution of the batch file. There
    are many times when you might want to do just that.

    PC/MSDOS has several commands which insist on user input.
    FORMAT, DISKCOPY, and DEL *.* are three of those commands.
    If your goal is complete automation of a command with batch
    files, these three operations will stall your batch file
    until you type a letter.

    Fortunately, there's a way to bypass this limitation. All
    you need to do is create an external ASCII file which
    contains the keystroke. Here's a good example:

    In my own work, I often place files in a directory on my
    hard disk, called C:\TEMP. Once I'm finished working with
    those files, I want to delete them from the disk. To do
    this means using the DEL *.* command. PC/MSDOS, however,
    insists that I confirm the command by typing a Y. If I give
    the command from a batch file, I still have to type the

    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 39

    To get around this problem, you can create a file which
    contains just the letter, Y and a carriage return. I call
    the file YES.ASC. Create this file by entering the
    keystrokes shown below:


    With that file stored on the disk, you can tell a batch file
    to take its input from the file and send it to any program
    called by the batch file. Using the example above, here's a
    batch file, named KILLTEMP.BAT, which deletes all files from
    the directory C:\TEMP:

    DEL C:\TEMP\*.* <YES.ASC
    Create this file, using either the COPY CON command, or your
    text editor. Substitute a directory name which applies to
    your computer for the one shown here.

    This batch file works by using redirection. The "less than"
    symbol (<) tells PC/MSDOS to take directions from the file,
    YES.ASC rather than from the keyboard. When the command DEL
    *.* gives the message "Are you sure (Y/N)," it sees the
    character "Y" included in the YES.ASC file, and thinks
    you've typed the letter on the keyboard.

    You can use this technique with any DOS command which asks
    for a confirmation from the user. Be very careful, however,
    not to use the method if there is any danger of deleting
    important files.

    External text files can be used to create all sorts of
    useful DOS utilities. Take the FORMAT command, for example.
    This program in DOS requires user keystrokes which slow down
    the process of formatting new floppy disks.

    If you hate the job of formatting a pile of floppies, you
    can create a disk formatting utility which will format
    floppy disks continuously, prompting you to insert a new
    floppy disk and press a key.

    To make this batch file work, you need to create a very
    short text file which contains the keystrokes needed for the
    PC-MSDOS FORMAT.COM program. Call this file RESPONSE.ASC,
    and create it with the following commands:



    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 40

    Once you've created that file, you can set up a .BAT file to
    format diskettes continuously. Since this file is rather
    long and complex, I suggest using your text editor or word
    processor to create the file. Remember to save the file as
    a pure ASCII file. Call this file CFORMAT.BAT.

    IF .%1 ==. GOTO NOPARM
    IF %1 == c: GOTO NOHARD
    IF %1 == C: GOTO NOHARD
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+7*
    Echo Insert a new disk in drive %1 or press Ctrl+Break
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Now formatting....do not disturb disk in drive %1!
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*

    * Hold down the key while you type the number on the
    numeric keypad.

    This batch file uses many of the techniques presented in
    earlier parts of this series, including replaceable
    parameters, subroutines, and conditional branching. It also
    uses the RESPONSE.ASC file to feed responses to the

    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 41

    FORMAT.COM program. The line which reads, FORMAT
    NUL, is the key to this utility. It calls
    the DOS FORMAT routine, then directs the program to take its
    responses from the text file you created. Finally, the >NUL
    at the end of the line keeps the normal screen messages from
    FORMAT.COM off the screen.

    To use this program, copy CFORMAT.BAT and RESPONSE.ASC to
    the disk or directory which contains FORMAT.COM. When you
    give the command, CFORMAT, add the drive name for your
    floppy disks. If you don't include a drive name in your
    command, the program will abort and remind you. If you
    specify drive C:, the batch file branches to the :NOHARD
    subroutine and aborts with a warning.

    The utility formats the disk, then returns to the beginning,
    beeps to remind you to change disks, and formats the next
    disk when you press a key.

    If you have a hard disk drive and two floppy drives, another
    version of this file can format disks in both drives,
    speeding up the process even further. Create this file in
    the same way, but name it CFORMAT2.BAT.

    goto START
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+7*
    ECHO Be sure to turn your TURBO mode off.
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO ECHO Insert new disks in drives A: and B:
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO To exit, press Ctrl+Break.
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Alt+255*
    ECHO Now formatting....do not disturb disk in drive A:
    ECHO Now formatting....do not disturb disk in drive B:

    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 42

    * Hold down the key while you type the number on the
    numeric keypad.

    This file works in the same way, but automatically formats
    blank disks in both drive A: and drive B:. Each time the
    routine runs, it beeps to remind you to change disks. I
    timed this routine, and it saves about 30% of the normal
    disk formatting time.

    You can use the same redirection technique to automate other
    utility programs which require keyboard input. Try writing
    your own batch file to make the DISKCOPY command run
    continuously. You'll need to write a text file, containing
    the keystrokes needed for that command, plus a batch file
    similar to the ones used for the FORMAT command.


    Since batch files can automate many functions on your PC,
    creating demos and presentations is a natural use for these
    PC-MSDOS programs.

    A presentation or demo is typically a series of screens,
    displayed in order. Using batch files to make the process
    automatic can let you concentrate on your presentation, and
    not on operating the PC.

    The first step in creating a demo is to create the screens
    you want to display. Use your word processor or text editor
    to create as many screens as you like. If you use Word
    Perfect or another program which can do line drawing and
    boxes, you can enhance these screens. Many word processors
    can also use the +numeric keypad technique to display
    extended ASCII characters, adding even more visual

    Keep each screen down to 24 lines of text or less, so the
    whole screen can be displayed without scrolling. Save your
    screens in ASCII format, naming them SCREEN1.TXT,
    SCREEN2.TXT, etc. Number the files in the order you want to
    follow with your demo or presentation.

    Now, create the batch file you'll use to display your
    screens. Call it DEMO.BAT, or any other name you like.
    Again, use your text editor or word processor to create the
    file. Leave out the REM commands and messages when you
    create the file.

    PROMPT Alt+255 REM Eliminates the DOS prompt.
    PAUSE>NUL REM Shuts off the "Press a key" message.

    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 43

    PROMPT REM Restores the dos prompt.

    Expand this batch file to include all of your presentation
    screens. When you run DEMO.BAT, it will clear the screen,
    turn off the DOS prompt and load the first screen. To
    change screens, just press any key on the keyboard. The
    screen will clear and the next screen will appear.

    You can use the same program to create presentations for
    other users, as well. Just leave the >NUL off the PAUSE
    lines in the batch file. Now you can mail a disk containing
    your demo to another user. When that user types the
    command, DEMO, your screens will display, with the line,
    "Strike a key when ready," at the bottom of each screen to
    prompt the user for a keystroke. Even unskilled PC users
    won't have any trouble displaying your demo with this

    You'll find other uses for this presentation system. I use
    it for displaying the documentation for shareware programs,
    and for sending letters and other documents to PC users.


    There are a number of commercial, public domain, and
    shareware programs designed to enhance your use of batch
    programming. Using these external programs, you can add
    even more power to your batch files. You may already have
    one or more such programs in your software library. Here's
    a brief rundown on some of the best:


    This powerful collection of utilities contains several
    programs design to enhance your batch operations. If you
    have this software, try out the following programs from the

    ASK: This program does what DOS can't do, accepting
    keyboard input from users during the execution of a batch
    file. Especially useful in batch file menus, like the ones
    described in the first part of this series, ASK allows you

    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 44

    to get a keystroke, then branch accordingly. This eliminates
    the need for additional batch files to call programs.

    BEEP: While you can cause your PC to beep in batch using the
    ECHO Ctrl-G command, Norton's BEEP command allows you to
    specify what kind of tone you get. You can even create
    files to play simple tunes using this command.

    SA: Short for Screen Attributes, this program allows you to
    alter your computer's screen characteristics. You can set
    up screen colors and other attributes by including this
    command, plus parameters in your batch files. This one is
    especially useful for the presentation system discussed

    For more information on THE NORTON UTILITIES, contact Peter
    Norton Computing, Inc., 2210 Wilshire Blvd., #186, Santa
    Monica, CA 90403. Phone: (800) 451-0303, Ext. 40.


    This is a shareware program, designed specifically to
    increase the power of your batch files. Using it, you can
    accept user input, perform arithmetic functions, search for
    files, and control the appearance of your computer's screen,
    or use many more of the program's functions. This program is
    a complete programming language in itself.

    If you're serious about batch programming, this program is a
    must for your library. Like all shareware, you're free to
    try it out without charge. The author requests a
    registration fee of $49 if you continue to use the program.
    That fee brings you additional functions and a complete

    EXTENDED BATCH LANGUAGE is available for downloading on
    GEnie and Compuserve, and can be found in the catalogs of
    most shareware distributors. It's also available directly
    from Seaware Corp., P.O. Box 1656, Delray Beach, FL 33444,
    Phone: (305) 392-2046.


    This public domain program performs a very useful function.
    It converts an ASCII file, no more than 24 lines long, into
    a .COM file. By giving the name of the file as a command,
    you cause it to display on your monitor.

    What makes this program exciting is the way these converted
    ASCII screens pop onto the monitor almost instantly. Use
    this program for menu screens, help screens, and screens
    used in the presentation system described above.

    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 45

    Rather than displaying the screen with the TYPE command,
    just give the screen's filename as a command and you have
    instant response. FSTSCRN2 can add a professional look to
    your batch files.

    Download the program from CompuServe or GEnie. It's also
    available on many local BBS systems.


    Designing attractive screens can be a problem. Using a word
    processor, especially when you want to include extended
    ASCII characters for simple graphics, can be a complicated

    THEDRAW is designed to solve just that problem. Written by
    California programmer, Ian Davis, it is a complete screen
    design utility. Using this program, you can create complex
    and attractive screens for menus, presentations, or demos --
    and you can do it quickly.

    The program even allows you to add color changes within your
    screen and, using ANSI.SYS in your CONFIG.SYS file, you can
    even create animated screens. THEDRAW screens are displayed
    with the TYPE command.

    Available on CompuServe, GEnie, and from most shareware
    distributors, the program is shareware, with a registration
    fee of $10. Contact the author directly at TheSoft
    Programming Services, 1929 Whitecliff Court, Walnut Creek,
    CA 94596.


    This is a collection of three public domain utilities, which
    you can use in batch files to control booting your PC.
    WARMBOOT.COM simulates the ++ keystroke
    combination and causes a warm boot of your PC.

    COLDBOOT.COM, the second program, simulates a cold boot.
    Instead of hitting the reset or power switch, you can reboot
    by giving the command, COLDBOOT.

    BOOTNOT.COM prevents a user from rebooting with the
    ++ key combination. This is very useful,
    especially if inexperienced users might destroy data on your
    PC by accident.

    The other two programs can be included in batch files
    whenever you need to reboot your system. One possible use
    would be to remove memory-resident programs. I use it this

    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 46

    way to remove a memory-resident program or a RAM disk which
    might interfere with another program.

    BOOTS is available on GEnie and CompuServe for downloading.


    Most users are quickly annoyed with the monotonous beep
    produced by their computers. If you've ever dreamed about
    replacing that beep with another sound, FIXBEEP is the

    Written by Mike Blaszczak, FIXBEEP, allows you to change
    that sound to anything you want. The program is shareware,
    but the registration fee is only $5.

    Use fixbeep in your batch files to change the beep tone.
    You can alter the tone to signal different operations in
    your file, signalling the user to take action. For example,
    to change the normal beep to a short, high-pitched sound,
    include the following command in any batch file.

    FIXBEEP /F3000 /D50

    This command would produce a tone with a pitch of 3000
    hertz, lasting for half a second.

    FIXBEEP is available on The Source, CompuServe, and GEnie,
    as well as from the author. Contact Mike "Nifty James"
    Blaszczak, 112 Verlinden Drive, Monroeville, PA 15146.


    There are many occasions when you might want to turn the
    CapsLock or NumLock function on or off from a batch file.
    The two programs in TOGGLE, CAPLOCK.COM and NUMLOCK.COM,
    allow you to do just that.

    I use NUMLOCK.COM in the batch files which call my
    spreadsheet and accounting programs. It saves me from the
    mistakes I usually make by forgetting to press the NumLock

    TOGGLE is in the public domain, and is available for
    downloading on GEnie and Compuserve.


    If your word processor can't save files in ASCII format, or
    if you would just like to have a simple, fast text editor

    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 47

    for creating and altering batch files, E88 may be just the
    editor you need.

    It produces pure ASCII files, and has a text search
    function, along with block moves and other editing functions
    you'll find useful for batch programming.

    E88 is easy to learn, fast, and, for programming purposes,
    is often better than a full-fledged word processor. The
    program is shareware, but the author asks only $10 as a
    registration fee.

    E88 is available for downloading from GEnie and CompuServe,
    or you can contact the author at M.R.E. Software, 150 Jones
    St., West Point, MS 39773


    As a service to the readers of this series on batch files,
    I'll be happy to send readers a disk containing all the
    public domain and shareware programs mentioned above. To
    cover the costs of copying and mailing, send $7.50 for a
    5.25" floppy disk or $10 for a 3.5" disk to:

    George Campbell
    1472 Sixth St.
    Los Osos, CA 93402

    Be sure to mention the batch file articles, and specify your
    disk size. All of these programs contain their own
    documentation in an ASCII file which you can copy to your
    printer. If you use these programs regularly, please honor
    the shareware concept by sending the registration fee to the
    authors who request it.


    1. Plan your batch files before you begin to write them.
    Make a list of the functions you want to perform, then begin
    creating the file. Always give batch files easy-to-remember
    filenames to avoid errors.

    2. Include lines which use the ECHO command to print screen
    messages. Users, yourself included, will benefit from
    screen messages which explain what's going on during batch
    file execution.

    3. In any batch file which uses replaceable parameters,
    include an IF line to check whether or not a parameter was
    given with the command. If not, GOTO a subroutine which
    explains the correct syntax for the batch file. The
    CFORMAT.BAT in this article is a good example.

    Campbell -- Batch Power Page 48

    4. If you have a hard disk, create a directory called
    C:\BATCH, and store all your batch files in that directory.
    If you include the directory in your PATH command, you'll be
    able to access your batch files while you're in any
    directory on your hard disk. Here's a sample PATH command:

    PATH = C:\;C:\DOS;C:\BATCH

    Thanks to reader Roger Paulson for reminding me of this
    important tip.

    5. You can give the command to execute another batch file in
    any batch file. To return to the original batch file, just
    give its filename as the last line of your second file. You
    can't call the current batch file, however, from within that

    6. Use the +255 technique to create blank lines with
    the ECHO command, and to eliminate the DOS prompt with the
    PROMPT command. This works with all versions of DOS, from
    2.0 on. Be sure to leave a space between the command and
    the key combination, and always use the number pad to enter
    the numbers.

    Note: You can also insert any extended ASCII character,
    such as the ASCII graphics characters, using the same
    technique. Just substitute the correct ASCII code in place
    of the 255 code for a blank character. You'll find a chart
    showing these codes in your DOS manual.

    7. Don't use the DOS redirection characters (< and >) in
    ECHO, PROMPT, or PAUSE lines in your batch files. DOS sees
    them as part of a command and will respond with the "Bad
    command or filename" error message. Substitute brackets
    ([]) or curly brackets ({}) instead.

    8. When testing new batch files, you'll often encounter
    error messages. These usually mean you've misspelled a
    command or left out a space after ECHO, PROMPT, or PAUSE
    commands. Check for these errors first.

    9. Memory-resident programs sometimes conflict with each
    other. If you encounter unusual problems after adding a
    memory-resident program's command to an AUTOEXEC.BAT file,
    try changing the order of the programs. You may have to try
    several orders to make your memory-resident programs

    10. Finally, experiment with batch files. Anytime you find
    yourself typing the same series of DOS commands, consider
    creating a batch file to automate your computing.

    Microsoft Support.
    Última edição pelo moderador: 22 de Outubro de 2003
  2. greven

    greven Folding Artist

    Para segundo post, digamos que... não poupas-te nas palavras!! OTF is this? Man, poderias ter posto um link ou isso, é que eu ia gastando o scroll do meu rato só para chegar ao fim do texto e também dúvido que alguém vá ler este pequenino texto... :rolleyes:
  3. kazuza

    kazuza Power Member

    O que ele te queria dizer, e com razão, é que um script de DOS pode f**er-te o sistema todo num ápice...
  4. greven

    greven Folding Artist

    Pode ter razão! Mas se eu lesse aquilo tudo que ficava f***** era eu! Mas da cabeça! :D
  5. Korben_Dallas

    Korben_Dallas Zwame Advisor

    Achei bastante útil. Thanks.
  6. greven

    greven Folding Artist

    Desculpem lá a ignorância, a vocês a última parte do texto não vos aparece toda riscada? E até o report this to a moderator aparece riscado! Porque é que isto acontece?
  7. banid0

    banid0 Power Member

    Parece que alguem correu um batch no servidor

    LOL! ... :P

    uma bequinha po seca não? :(
  8. Mendázio

    Mendázio Power Member

    Não poderia colocar o link porque a informação é de um livro e estava num site de warez que não é permitido no fórum . Eu estou a ler e estou a gostar bastante .
  9. Feiticeiro

    Feiticeiro Power Member

    Ficheiros bat são poderosos até.
    A uns anos quando o Win 95 era o SO do povo, fiz um bat e juntei na mesma disquete uns ficheiros de um jogo porno. Dei a um colega e disse-lhe que era um jogo porno. Ele para correr o jogo teve que executar esse bat, só que deu uma mensagem de erro a dizer que por falta de memória o jogo não poderia ser carregado (era normal isso acontecer quando um gajo tinha 8mb de ram). Só que por trás sem ele se aperceber, apaguei-lhe o conteúdo de um folder que ele tinha no disco cheio de cenas porno. Ele uns dias depois é que reparou que o tal folder tinha ido com os porcos, mas ele nunca soube porque. Uns tempos depois contei-lhe. :-D
  10. greven

    greven Folding Artist

    Ah, ok, já percebi então pq colocaste assim. Tasse.

    Feiticeiro... seu pornografo!
  11. Zealot

    Zealot I quit My Job for Folding

    As coisas que uma pessoa acaba por descobrir... :002:
  12. banid0

    banid0 Power Member


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