Appendix A: Windows

You interact with python using the cmd.exe program.

You can find it by searching in the start prompt.

A shortcut:

  1. Press Windows + R (the two keys together)
  2. A search prompt pops up.
  3. Type cmd.exe and press enter.

Command line 101

Typically you interact with your operating system using a mouse with certain actions: point, click, drag. Using these you can launch programs and move files.

The cmd.exe program offers the same interaction but using typed commands:

When cmd.exe launches you get a prompt:


The prompt gives you your currnent location followed by a >. Here I am in the directory greg-lo which itself is in the directory Users. C refers the hardrive I am on.

Now you enter the dir command:

C:\Users\greg-lo> dir

This will list all the files and folders in your current directory.

Here are all the commands you need for this course:

  • cd - change directory
  • dir - list the directory’s contents
  • copy - copy a file or a directory
  • move - move a file or a directory
  • mkdir - make a directory
  • del - delete a file or directory
  • unzip - unzip a zipped (compressed) file


There is nothing here that you aren’t familiar doing with the mouse. If necessary use your mouse to orientate yourself.

The Python Interpreter

When you install python in windows it gives you the option to add the executable (python.exe) to your system path.

Unfortunately we need to specify the full path each time: Python34python.exe.

Python 3.4.2 (v3.4.2:8711a0951384, Sep 21 2014, 21:16:45) [MSC v.1600 32 b
it (Intel)] on win32
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.


At first it is normal to confuse the command line and the python interpreter. Python instructions don’t run in the command shell and shell commands don’t work in the interpreter.

The interpreter has >>> as its prompt

The command shell has the file path eg C:Usersgreg-lo>