Command line

How to get to the command line

If you log into a remote server (with NoMachine or Putty, for example), you’ll already have a terminal shell open, with a command line prompt waiting for your command.

Otherwise, there are different ways to get to the command line depending on which operating system you’re using, and which application you prefer to use. Here are the common ways.

On Windows

Two different applications that let you issue commands to Windows are cmd (the “command prompt”) or Powershell.

  • Press the Windows key the windows key to access the Start menu.
  • Type cmd and press enter, then choose Command prompt
  • …or type powershell and choose that.


  • Press the windows keyX to access the Power Users menu.
  • Choose Command prompt or Powershell.

Other applications may also offer a command prompt. Git bash is a common one — be aware that Git bash really emulates a Unix command shell.

On Mac

You need to find the Terminal application and launch it. Either:

  • Press              (command-space to launch Spotlight)

    • then type terminal to find then launch the Terminal app.

or, in Finder (e.g., click on the Desktop background, or the blue Finder icon):

  • Press U (opens the Utilities folder)

    • then double-click on Terminal.

On Linux

Press ctrlaltT.

On Gnome

Press altF2 and type terminal.