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Windows Vista

Missing Drag and Drop in Vista Command Prompt

Daniel Petri


One of the cool features in the Windows 2000/XP/2003 Command Prompt (CMD) window was the ability to drag and drop files from it. You could drag a file from your desktop or from within any folder in Windows Explorer, and drop it to an open Command Prompt window. This feature was nice to have especially when running executable files nested deep within a folder hierarchy. Instead of manually navigating the Command Prompt path to the required folder, you could simply drag and drop the necessary file to the Run option or to the Command Prompt and press Enter to run it. After playing with beta versions of Windows Vista many users realized that the drag and drop functionality of the Command Prompt in Vista has been removed. This is also true for the RTM version. If you try to drag a file from anywhere in Windows Explorer to an open Command Prompt window in Vista you see that the pointer icon changes to a “no entry” symbol:

When asked, Microsoft officials provided dull answers and claimed that this is “by design” and that it was in fact “a feature”. Some claimed that “This was done to reduce the command window’s dealings with the dragged data object” which in my opinion is pure crap when compared to the huge overhead provided by other so-called “advanced” features of Vista such as the process-intensive Aero theme (read my “Aero Theme is bad, disable it” article or to the huge overhead of the TCP Window Auto tuning functionality that wrecks havoc to your network copy and browse functions (read my “Browsing websites and downloading files is painfully slow with Windows Vista”.
Other answers included things like “you can shift-right-click to get the copy as path function instead” (read my “Quickly Copy File and Folder Path in Windows Vista”. Grow up guys!
Another claim was that the drag and drop feature was dropped because it poses a “security risk”. Maybe, I don’t know, but since it’s been present since the days of older operating systems I don’t see why it wasn’t removed before if it was such a huge security risk. Whatever the reason may be, it seems strange that Vista, claiming to be an improvement over previous Microsoft operating systems, lacks so many of the good features that we got used to. I don’t understand the reason behind the decision to make the users’ lives more complicated than before, and doing so while claiming to add improvements to the user interface. From what I’ve heard there are no future plans to return the drag and drop feature to Vista’s Command Prompt, so there’s no point in waiting for SP1 to get it back.


In order to get some of the lost functionality I suggest using a nice 3rd-party tool called Send To Toys (currently version 2.5). This freeware tool can be found on the author’s website at Send To Toys is an enhancement of the Send To system menu that allows you to manage the Send To system menu content, and configure the various Send To Toys settings.

One of the cool abilities of the program is the Send To “Command Prompt” . When used, it opens a CMD window, setting the current directory to the selected folder. If the selection was a file, the folder containing the file will be the active directory and the name of the file will be typed for you at the prompt. Hold down the CTRL key to change the active directory to a different folder. Hold down the SHIFT key to force the use of the COMMAND.COM regardless of the Windows version.
The program has many other nice features, I suggest you install it, and don’t forget, it’s freeware and it works on Windows 2000, XP, 2003 Server, and Vista.

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