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Full screen MS-Dos Application in Windows 2000

by Curtis Krauskopf

All versions of Microsoft Windows can run MS-Dos applications in a command prompt. Figure 1 shows several examples of command prompt icons.

In a Start menu.

In a Quick Launch toolbar.
On the desktop.
Figure 1: Command prompt icons in Windows 2000

When a command prompt application is launched, the command prompt defaults to a window that usually looks like the one in Figure 2.

Figure 2: A typical Windows 2000 command prompt

The Anatomy of a Command Prompt

The Windows 2000 command prompt has all of the anatomy of a Windows window:

  • The window has a title bar and a border around the entire window.
  • The icon () in the title bar identifies the window as a command prompt.
  • The title of the window in the example is D:\WIN\system32\
  • The window has the minimize, maximize and close buttons () in the title bar.
  • A mouse can scroll the window vertically using the up () and down () arrows.
  • The window can also be scrolled by using the mouse to grab the thumb () and move it to another location.
  • A mouse click in the thumb track will move the thumb to approximately that location.

Making a Full Screen Command Prompt

Because a command prompt has all of the features of a Windows 2000 window, the command prompt normally does not automatically enlarge itself to take up the entire screen.

Pressing the maximize button on the window's title bar () does not give the user the results they desire. The maximize button simply causes the window to take up as much room as is available vertically. The horizontal width of the window stays the same.

To make the command prompt take up the entire screen, follow these steps:

Copy the Command Prompt

First, make a copy of the command prompt located in your Start menu. The reason you want to do this is so that you can make a full-screen command prompt without affecting the way your default command prompt works.

    1. Click on the Start button
    2. Click on the Programs menu.
    3. Click on the Accessories sub-menu. See Figure 3.
      Figure 3: Find the Command Prompt in your Start menu.
    4. Hover the mouse over the Command Prompt in the Accessories sub-menu. The Command Prompt looks like this:
    5. Press and hold the Ctrl key. Left-click on the Command Prompt entry and (while holding both the ctrl key and the left-click), drag it to the desktop. Release the left click and then release the Ctrl key. Windows will copy the Command Prompt to your desktop. It will look something like this:

Rename the Command Prompt

Rename the Command Prompt to something that is easy to remember and makes sense, such as "Full Screen Prompt". If you're going to use a specific application with the Command Prompt, you can give the Command Prompt the name of that application. For example, if you're going to create a Command Prompt that is always used by an application called DataFlex, then name the Command Prompt "DataFlex". To rename the command prompt:

    1. Left click on it one time to highlight it.
    2. Left click on it one more time. The Command Prompt's name will highlight and you can type whatever name you want in there. In this example, the Command Prompt was renamed to DataFlex:

Default to a Full Screen Command Prompt

These steps will allow you to see a full-screen 80x25 (80 columns and 25 lines of text) on a screen. Many 'old' MS-Dos applications, such as DataFlex, default to this screen format. Windows 2000 can be coaxed into providing the 80x25 screen format as a default but the command prompt properties have to be changed:

    1. Right-click on the Command Prompt icon (renamed to DataFlex in the above example). A context menu will appear.
    2. Choose Properties from the context menu. The Properties panel will appear.
    3. Choose the Shortcut tab (this tab is oftentimes the default selected tab so there's usually nothing to do)
    4. On the Shortcut tab is an item called "Run:". Choose "Maximized" from the list.
    5. Choose the "Options" tab.
    6. On the "Options" tab is a section called "Display Options". Choose "Full Screen".
    7. Choose the "Layout" tab.
    8. On the "Layout" tab is a section called "Window Position". Uncheck the "Let system position Window". When you do that, the left and top choices (in the "Window Position" section) become changable (they become highlighted instead of lowlighted). Make sure the values for left and top are both 0.
    9. Also on the "Layout" tab is a section called "Screen Buffer". Set the screen buffer width and height to 80 x 25.
    10. Click on the [OK] button to save your changes.

When you double-click on the icon, it should use the entire screen's height and width. The number of text lines for the customized Command Prompt is limited to 25 and the number of columns is limited to 80.

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