Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Windows man pages

If you're a UNIX or Linux person, you know Windows lacks man pages.  So man up and make some.

Create a directory and add it to your path.  Call it man, help, or whatever.

Every time you run into a command whose usage and arguments you need to know, run it with the /? switch and redirect its output into a file in that help directory.

FOR /? > %USERPROFILE%\help\for.txt

Now you've got a file in your path that says this:

Runs a specified command for each file in a set of files.

FOR %variable IN (set) DO command [command-parameters]

  %variable  Specifies a single letter replaceable parameter.
  (set)      Specifies a set of one or more files.  Wildcards may be used.
  command    Specifies the command to carry out for each file.
             Specifies parameters or switches for the specified command.

To use the FOR command in a batch program, specify %%variable instead

Then, the next time you need help on the for command, hit Win+R, type for.txt, and press Enter.  The saved help will pop up immediately in Notepad, because you added the help directory (or whatever you called it) to your path.  You can also use it to stash past examples if you're running or scripting particularly complex commands.

Presto.  Man pages.  Now quit yer whining.

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