Tip of the Day — Print Vista Directory Listing

There are times I want to list a directory on paper, or at least in a plain old text document. The most recent was this morning while I was trying to organize my backlog of podcasts.

And, finally, it all came together, enough of the correct words that Google was able to help find the rest.

This works for Vista. The original method worked on DOS. I’m sure a variant or combination of the two will work on any OS in between.


Short answer, for people who used PCs back in the early 1990s:

Start / Run... cmd
dir | clip
into text editor.

Long answer:

Start / Run...
That brings up a dialogue saying to type the name of a program, etc., for Windows to open.

cmd [enter]
Type the letters “cmd”, then the enter key. This opens the command prompt, which back in 1991 was the way we talked to PCs.

Navigate around until you’re in the right directory. You do this by typing in commands. Moving the mouse won’t help.

cd is “change directory”
cd abc is “change to the abc directory”
cd / is “change directory, go to root”
cd .. is “change directory, go up one level”

Open a text editor or Word, so you have a place to paste the text that’s about to be hidden on your clipboard.

Back in the command line window,
dir | clip
Back to the text editor:
/edit / paste (or ctrl-V)

Explanation: The | is a “pipe” command, meaning take the output from the DIR command and put it into the device CLIP, which is the clipboard. There used to be a device PRN, so you could pipe it to the print queue, but Vista doesn’t recognize that.

There you have it. Enjoy!


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