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CmdLi Version: 1.17
Released: 24. September 2009
There is no active development of CmdLi anymore (see also FAQ-Artikel).

CmdLi is an acronym for CommandLine Light. With CommandLine Light, commands can be dropped directly from the windows desktop. In this way, programs can be started faster because you do not need your mouse. On your desktop appears a small window, which can be accessed by mouse click or hot keys.


CmdLi tries to react intelligently to requests by recognising the command or document type. This will always start the apropriate application (the example above will start your prefered browser and shows the given website).

Could it be easier? No!


Here are some highlights of CommandLine Light:

  • Internal DOS commands recognized automatically.
  • All other DOS commands executed based on the PATH variable.
  • DOSKEY macros (also known as aliases) can be read from any file and used by CmdLi.
  • Input beginning with an exclamation mark '!' is interpreted as a DOS command.
  • The input of a single exclamation mark '!' launches an MS-DOS box.
  • Files are executed by checking their extension against the registry database. The appropriate program is then launched, and the file loaded.
  • Indicates a directory. Explorer is opened automatically at the given directory.
  • If an http or ftp URL (uniform resource Locator) is input, the default browser is launched and connects with this URL, the URL can be in the forms http:*, ftp:* or also in the short form www.* and/or ftp.*.
  • With the CD command, the working directory can be changed as with MS-DOS. All following commands are then referenced to this directory.

Of course, CmdLi stores command input history. The number of commands stored can be changed between 1 and 999. Moreover, the history may be stored permanently so that all commands successfully interpreted may be retrieved. History may also be used as with MS-DOS using the DOSKEY command, type a character and press F8. History can be searched using F7 (a dropdown list appears), and may be deleted using <Alt> + F7.


I distribute this program for private and commercial use as freeware. There are certainly better ways to spend your money.

The program may be distributed freely and may be burned to CDROMs. I give no guarantee, however, for the correct functioning of this program or other eventualities such as lost files.


CmdLi window On first launch, the CmdLi window appears at top left on the screen. The program window may then be repositioned on the screen with the mouse using click and drag in area (1). When satisfied, release the mouse. The window can be horizontally resized to get more space for the input area (2). Moving the mouse over the areas (2) or (3) will display a little popup-window, which shows the current working directory.

You input commands in the white area (2), after pressing <RETURN> the command is executed. During input, the current command may be deleted by pressing <Esc> or <Strg>+C. You may cycle through command history with the arrow keys or by typing a couple of letters and pressing F8. If you want to see commands stored in history, invoke the dropdown list (3) or press F7.

Only one instance of CmdLi may be loaded a a time, attempting to start multiple instances simply results in the running instance receiving mouse focus. Program functions (context menu) can be accessed using the right mouse button, when located over the CmdLi window. These are:

  • Settings
  • Delete History
  • Launch MS-DOS Prompt
  • Info
  • Exit


The last four menu items require little explanation. With the item Settings CmdLi can be configured extensively, the window offers the following fields:

CmdLi - Settings

  • Root Path: Root Path on starting CmdLi. The Default is “C:\”. An invalid entry will cause reversion to the default value.
  • Function Keys: A key combination can be selected in this field to quickly access CmdLi by bringing the CmdLi window to the foreground and activating the input field. A command can be input then immediately. If a chosen combination is already reserved by another program, CmdLi reports this when you press O.K. Another key combination must then be chosen.
    In place of pressing <Strg> and <Alt> simultaneously, you can also use the key <Alt Gr>.
  • Maximum Entries in History List: The maximum number of records in the list may be chosen here, a value between 1 and 999 can be selected. If too small a value is entered, 1 is selected automatically. With a value of 1, virtally no history exists. A value larger than 999 cannot be selected. The Default value is 25.
  • Store History for Next Session: When this option is checked, successfully executed commands are stored in the history. On the next program start, the stored history is reloaded and these commands are available. This entry is checked by default.
  • No Double Entries in History: If this option is checked, duplicates of successfully executed commands are removed.
  • Recognise internal DOS commands automatically: After input of a command, it is first compared to the list of internal DOS commands (like DIR or COPY). If such a command is recognised, an MS-DOS-box is started automatically and the command executed with all parameters. This entry is checked by default.
  • Recognise DOSKEY-Makros: If this entry is checked and a valid filename containing definitions is selected in the dropdown, CmdLi searches for DOSKEY definitions, or changes to them, on launch. With the most right button you can open a dialog for confortable file searching. This entry is checked by default and references the file “c:\autoexec.bat”.
    If the selected file ends with the extension BAT, CmdLi looks for DOSKey macros. If, however, you select a file with another extension, you must indicate macros in simple tabular form. The list has the following structure:

    rem A comment can be started by a #
    # Definitions of macros are seperated by equal signs,
    # blanks or tabs
    e exit
    # It smells like UNIX...
    ls dir /w $*
    ll dir $*
    cp copy $*
    mv move $1 $2
    make nmake $*
    # Speed up Windows ...
    ie c:\progra~1\intern~1\iexplore
    ns C:\progra~1\netscape\program\netscape.exe -browser

    In scanning the file, only simple DOSKEY macros are recognized. A macro consists of several commands divided by “\t”, these are not recognized by CmdLi and on inputting such an alias are interpreted as an error. However the substitute symbols $1 to $9 and $* can be used in macros.

  • Execute History Command Immediately: This entry is unchecked by default because checking it makes sense only if you select commands from history with the mouse. When checked, commands are executed immediately but cannot be scrolled through with the arrow keys because of this behaviour. If unchecked, you can scroll the history with the arrow keys, but must press <RETURN> to execute. Just try .-)
  • “EXIT” Terminates CmdLi: If checked, entering 'exit' as a command terminates CmdLi, when unchecked 'exit' has no effect. This entry is checked by default.
  • Show ToolTips: When the mouse is over the CmdLi widow, a tooltip shows the current root path, this is the default setting. If not required, uncheck the box.
  • Save Window Position: By default, on resizing the CmdLi window, the new position and size are stored. When you next start CmdLi, the window reappears at the stored position. To have CmdLi forget the last used position on screen, uncheck the box.
  • Always On Top: When checked, CmdLi will stay on top of other open program windows, this is the default setting. If too obtrusive, remove the checkmark.
  • Icon in System Tray: When Checking this field you will see a small icon in the System Tray. Double-clicking this icon activates the window of CmdLi, whereas a click with the right mouse button shows the already described contextmenu.
  • Auto Fade after xx seconds: When checked, the window of CmdLi disappears after the given ammount of seconds, when another window is activated. So you are not disturbed when working. But you should set a Function Key or activate the Icon in System Tray for accessing CmdLi after the window has disappeared. Many thanks to Wolf Fabian for this idea.
  • Start CmdLi with System: If you check this field, CmdLi ist automatically launched on every start of Windows. To get this feature working, CmdLi needs to make an entry in the registry (I personally hate the registry and try everything to avoid usage, but in this case it is impossible). If you want to remove CmdLi properly from your computer, you must first uncheck this field (this will delete the registry entry). After this, you can kick CmdLi off your harddisk.-(

Closing the settings window with <ESC> or <CANCEL> results in all changes being lost. Exiting with <OK>, however, results in CmdLi being initialized with the new settings and the DOSKey file scanned for Aliases.

Integration with Windows Explorer

Helmut Welke asked if CmdLi could be invoked from the context menu of Windows Explorer. That is now possible. How is this done?

First open Explorer, select View, Folder Options, File Types. On the left side look for the entry FILE from the list of registered file types. Double-clicking on this entry opens a further window. Click on New in this window, a further window opens. Here you register the value CmdLi. In the field Procedure enter CmdLi and in Application for this procedure type c:\program files\cmdli\cmdli.exe -p “%1”. Now close all windows by pressing <OK>.

If you right-click in Explorer now on a listing name, you see in the context menu the entry CmdLi. If you activate this menu option, the CmdLi window is activated. In addition CmdLi has the working directory already for you changed over to the file concerned …

Internal MSDOS Commands

CmdLi understands typical internal MS-DOS commands. CmdLi opens a DOS box automatically after recognizing such a command and displays the command there. It was however pointed out that there are different command interpreters with an extended quantity of commands (e.g. 4DOS). CmdLi can be informed about an alternate command interpreter. If using such an alternative interpreter, a file with the name “commands.txt” (the name cannot be changed) must exist in the installation directory of CmdLi. This file contains all the commands from the new interpreter, one command is specified per line. After CmdLi starts, it reads the contents of this file and immediately interprets all instructions there as DOS instructions and thus always opens a DOS box.

Here an example of one commands.txt, which illustrates the command sequence of



CmdLi can be downloaded in two formats. Both formats contain the same files! For the ZIP-Format you need a third-party product like FilZip (kostet nix) or WinZip. (57 KB)

Alternativly you can download a selfextracting ZIP-Archive. Wenn executing this file, you are prompted for the installation directory. After entering the directory, you only need to press the button “Unzip”, to install CmdLi at the desired location.

CmdLi_en.exe (85 KB)

If you are experiencing problems with downloading one of the above files, please click on the desired link with the right mouse button. A context menu appears. Here you can select “Save target as” (Internet Explorer, Opera) or “Save link as” (Konqueror, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape). Then you should have no problems with the download …


First of all a big, big THANK YOU to Colin Gymer. who has translated my german website and the CmdLi executable itself!

Version 1.17 (24.09.2001)

  • An error with a call from the context menu of Explorer was repaired with the assistance of Dominique Hunter.
  • In order to open Explorer, only one listing is shown. CmdLi has now become somewhat more tolerant. In this case quotes may be avoided with path names with spaces. In principle, however, path names with spaces must still be enclosed by quotes.
  • Using a file named commands.txt in the installation directory of CmdLi, the command sequence of the used command interpreter can be stopped.
  • Aliases can now be indicated in a list (particularly helpful under WinNT and Win2000).
  • There is now a new setting “no double entries in history”. Thank you to Holger for this idea.

Version 1.16 (18.10.2000)

  • Under NT there was a problem with showing the icon in the system tray, that is repaired.
  • To start CmdLi with Windows, it is no longer nesccessary to put a shortcut in the startup group. This can now be done using the settings screen.

Version 1.15 (06.09.2000)

  • CmdLi can now be called from the context menu of Explorer. Thank you at Helmut Welke for this idea.
  • For fast access to CmdLi, a tray icon may be installed. My thanks to Wolf Fabian for this idea.
  • CmdLi may now be set to display on top of all other open windows.

Version 1.14 (18.12.1999)

  • An MS-DOS box may now be called from the context menu of CmdLi. Thank you Tilman Kolb for this improvement suggestion!

Version 1.13 (12.12.1998)

  • You will now see tooltips on Windows NT.
  • You can now setup a keyboard shortcut for a fast activation of CmdLi.

Version 1.12 (01.07.1998)

  • CmdLi now works under NT (tested under Windows NT 4.0 with service pack 3).

Version 1.11 (26.03.1998)

  • Maximum entries in history list may now be altered using the mouse as well.

Version 1.10 (24.02.1998)

  • Until now, a URL had to be in the form http: and/or ftp: . Now the URL can be in the form of www.* and/or ftp.*.
  • Tooltips are shown immediately now. Until now one had to wait half a second until the tooltip showed.

Version 1.9 (09.12.1997)

  • A change of screen resolution led to CmdLi becoming invisible, this is resolved now. If the screen resolution is reduced, CmdLi is forced onto the visible area. This is also considered in starting CmdLi. Adjusting the width of the Cmdli window is now supported, CmdLi adapts accordinly.

Version 1.8 (14.11.1997)

  • In correcting the tool hint in version 1.6, an error crept in. When the tooltip was visible, command input was interrupted, if the tooltip disappeared automatically or by moving the mouse, a command could be input again. That issue is now resolved.

Version 1.7 (07.10.1997)

  • CmdLi no longer appears in the <ALT>+<TAB> program list.

Version 1.6 (22.09.1997)

  • Correction of the tooltip. Under certain circumstances they could be covered by other windows. Now they are always readable.

Version 1.5 (04.09.1997)

  • Internal change: The version number is now queried from the version information in the resource file.

Version 1.4 (27.08.1997)

  • URLS are now recognized and are called automatically by the Default browser…

Version 1.3 (23.08.1997)

  • Correct treatment of drive letter
  • Through input of “c:” or “d:”, the drive letter can be changed, at the same time the valid path is always adjusted respectively:
    cd d:\zip
    cd c:\tools
    copy less.exe d:
    dir (the file was copied correctly to d:\zip)

Version 1.2 (22.08.1997)

  • Tooltips available.
  • History can be stored permanently.
  • Search with command initials and F8 implemented.
  • Keyboard adaptation for DOSKEY (F8=Search, F7=List, ALT+F7=Delete History, ESC or <Ctrl> deletes the current command).

Version 1.1 (03.08.1997)

  • DOSKEY recognition inserted.

Version 1.0 (21.07.1997)

  • Basic version


If you do not find the right answer on your question below, please let me know and send me an E-Mail

Do you develop a new version of CmdLi?

No, in the last years there was no feedback by the users, that any feature is missing. Now Windows 7 has a very powerful mechanism for starting applications already built in. So development of a new version really makes no sense.

Last modified: 16.06.2018 12:47

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