Console Windows Tweaks- How to Enhance General Windows Command Prompt Shell with New Abilities

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Console Windows Tweaks- How to Enhance General Windows Command Prompt Shell with New Abilities Powered By Docstoc
    Console Windows in Windows NT
    Console Windows Advanced Management

    Quickly Attaining the Most Convenient Layout of Console Windows
    Keep Console Windows Always-on-Top
    New Ways of Keeping Currently Unused Console Windows
    Quickly Place a Console Window to Desired Monitor

    Useful Links


Though Windows? is an operating system with graphical user interface (GUI), it also
supports applications using a system console for input/output, which have a textual
(text-based) interface. Such applications (and their windows) are called console.
There is a great number of popular applications that use textual interface: Far
Manager, Apache web server for Windows, MySQL DBMS server for Windows,
Cygwin-based applications, most cross-platform ports from Unix/Linux, and many

The most well-known and typical example of a console window is the Windows
Command Prompt facility which is the instance of the command-line shell available
in Windows. Command-line shell is the integral part of any modern operating system:
it's used whenever a large vocabulary of internal commands or external command-line
utilities, coupled with a wide (or arbitrary) range of options, can be entered more
rapidly as text than with a pure GUI. Moreover, considering the ability to compound
separate commands into a batch scripts that can automatically do sophisticated jobs,
it's obvious that command-line shell is a powerful, flexible and fast facility which is
widely used by programmers and system administrators, in engineering and scientific
environments, and by technically advanced personal computer users. Due to such
popularity, console windows are also known as command prompt windows (or CMD
windows because the filename of shell's executable is cmd.exe).

Console Windows in Windows NT
In Win9x product line (Windows? 95/98/ME) console windows were processed
identically to GUI ones but in WinNT line (Windows? NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista)
console windows' processing was carried out into a separate subsystem, not available
for common applications. Its "separate" nature is especially obvious in Windows XP,
where console windows do not support extended visual styles of XP interface themes.
According to the same reason, console windows were not extended by Actual Tools
utilities and no advanced opportunities were available for them.

Nevertheless, starting from version 5.0, Actual Tools software engineers have
developed a unique technology which finally allows the extended manipulations with
console windows in WinNT product line. Though some features are still not
accessible due to a specific nature of console windows, the most important and
helpful Actual Tools functions now can be easily applied to console windows as well
as to common ones: minimize to tray/on screen, keep always-on-top, resize, align,
change priority/affinity, etc. Moreover, all these features can be triggered in various
ways (both automatically and manually) and are available either in Default settings or
in Specific settings, which you can create just for a particular kind of console
windows (e.g. all Apache web server windows).

Console Windows Advanced Management

1. Quickly Attaining the Most Convenient Layout of Console Windows

It is always pleasurable to work with computer where all important windows are
placed in order so that you can easily find them. If you often use different console
windows and want to open them where you indicate - our Actual Window Manager
program is made for you! With its help, you can set position and size of any console
window automatically at its startup.

To develop a better understanding, let's take the Command Prompt window mentioned
above and assume we want it to open positioned at the top-center of the desktop with
a small displacement to the bottom and sized to 640 pixels in width and 480 pixels in
height. Here is the step-by-step instruction on how to achieve this:

Create specific settings for the Command Prompt window (view the live demo on
how to do this). Finally, its Target Window pane should look as follows:
Figure 1. Target Window values for the Command Prompt windows

Please note that all console windows share the same Window class value
(ConsoleWindowClass), so we should also enable both Window caption and Program
criteria (as in the Figure 1) to define more exactly that just created settings are for
Command Prompt windows only.

Go to the Position property sheet and mark there the Align at startup to check box in
the Change Window Position Automatically group, then select the top-center
alignment and specify, for example, 50 pixels as Vertical shift value:

Figure 2. Align at Startup values for the Command Prompt windows

Go to the Size property sheet and mark there the At startup to check box in the Resize
Window Automatically group, then specify 640 as Width value and 480 as Height
value, then select pixels as measure units (the other way is to click the Predefined
button and select the 640x480 predefined size to automatically fill these values):

Figure 3. Resize at Startup values for the Command Prompt windows

Save the configuration to apply the just made tunings.

Spending just a few seconds (just once!) on making some specific settings for often
used console windows in the manner described above will save seconds (then minutes,
then hours!) of your precious time which you are used to spend on tedious manual
manipulations every time you open them.
You can also change the size and position of any console window on-the-fly clicking
Resize and Align title buttons, choosing the corresponding window menu items or
using hotkeys ( for Resize and for Align by default).

2. Keep Console Windows Always-on-Top

If you have such console windows which are used for monitoring some activity
(well-known ping utility, for example) and as such must always remain visible you
will certainly prefer them to stay on top of all the others. Use the Stay Always-On-Top
action, which will allow you keeping the selected window on top of other open
windows so that it's always accessible and never covered by them - even when it
becomes inactive.

Figure 4. Keep monitoring console windows (such as ping, telnet, netstat etc.)

It is an ideal solution when working with multiple windows open at once (as it
happens every day). You can select a window to Stay Always-on-Top all the time, so
it never falls behind another window.

3. New Ways of Keeping Currently Unused Console Windows

While working with several console windows you usually have to move the currently
unused ones out of your way without closing them to keep them operational in
background (when they become idle for some reason or you just need to refer to some
more urgent affairs). The options described below can be especially useful to
manipulate different server windows (e.g. already mentioned above Apache, MySQL
etc.) because of their inherent "running in background" nature. Actual Window
Manager presents you several options to do it in the most advanced ways:

Minimize Alternatively (AltMin) title button lets you save the taskbar space by hiding
a console window to Windows? notification area (also known as system tray) or to
virtually any place on your desktop

Roll Up title button lets you minimize a console window to its title bar

Send to Bottom title button lets you put the foreground console window under all
currently open windows without closing it and maintaining its original size and

Pin to desktop action allows you keeping a particular console window always open on
the desktop behind all other windows, denying any attempts of its minimization in any
standard way (including Windows? "Minimize all" and "Show desktop" system

Title buttons are the fastest and the easiest way to activate the functions described
above, but Actual Window Manager lets you use other alternative triggers, both
manual and automatic ones.

4. Quickly Place a Console Window to Desired Monitor

If you have several monitors connected to your computer, the Move to Monitor action
can be extremely useful to manage console windows in multiple display environment.
With the help of this action, you will be able to:

quickly move a console window to a next monitor via Move to Monitor title button

quickly place a console window to desired monitor either using Move to Monitor title
button's context menu (to call it, simply right-click this button) or via Move to

automatically place the particular console window upon its startup to selected monitor
(note that this feature is available in Specific settings only)


Starting from version 5.0, Actual Window Manager introduces a unique technology
which finally allows the extended manipulations with console windows in WinNT
series of Microsoft? Windows? operating systems. Due to this technological
breakthrough, now you can operate console windows as easy as usual ones in many
advanced ways that Actual Window Manager offers: minimize them to tray, make
always-on-top, roll them up, easily position and resize them, change their priority and
affinity - and do all this stuff in any conventional way provided by our software,
either automatically or manually. Almost 50 functions, which many users have
already got accustomed to, are now available for any type of windows.

Actual Tools bring in the full spectrum of features to the full spectrum of windows!
Enjoy the advanced window management with no limit!

About the Author:

Alex Fadeyev is the software engineer and technical writer at Actual Tools software
development company.

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