Command Prompt Windows Support

The Command Prompt Windows Support feature provides most of Actual Tools extra functionality for special type of windows, known as command prompt windows, in Windows® 2000/XP/2003/Vista (since Windows 7, such windows do not require special processing so this feature is not available there).

Though Windows® itself is an operating system with graphical user interface (GUI), it also supports applications using a system console for input/output, which have a textual (text-based) interface. Such applications (and their windows) are called console.

On the one hand, the system console is necessary for better compatibility: early operating systems (MS-DOS for example) used the textual interface of command prompt line; from there come another names of such windows: command prompt windows, MS-DOS windows, CMD windows, and like. Since that time many system utilities have console interface and thus are intended to launch from the command line.

On the other hand, the system console is necessary for the sake of speed: the console textual interface is faster and it requires fewer resources, therefore console applications occupy less memory and have weaker system requirements. Since many system utilities don't need all riches of numerous abilities available in GUI they were implemented as console applications. In addition, there is a great number of popular applications that use textual interface: FAR (File and Archive Manager), Apache web server for Windows, MySQL DBMS server for Windows, Cygwin-based applications, most cross-platform ports from Unix/Linux, and others.

In Win9x product line (Windows® 95/98/ME) console windows were processed identically to GUI ones but in WinNT line (Windows® NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista) console windows' processing was carried out into a separate subsystem, not available for common applications. Its "separate" nature is especially obvious in Windows XP, where command prompt windows do not support extended visual styles of XP interface themes. According to the same reason, command prompt windows were not extended by Actual Tools utilities and no advanced opportunities were available for them.

Nevertheless, starting from version 5.0, Actual Tools software engineers have developed a unique technology which finally allows the extended manipulations with command prompt windows in WinNT product line. Though some features are still not accessible due to specific nature of command prompt windows (see notes below), the most important and helpful Actual Tools functions now can be easily applied to command prompt windows as well as to common ones: minimize to tray/on screen, keep always-on-top, resize, align, change priority etc. Moreover, all these features can be triggered in various ways (both automatically and manually) and are available either in Default settings or in Specific settings, which you can create just for a particular kind of command prompt windows (e.g. all Apache web server windows).

Because of the fact that the developed technology works at low system level there is a certain number of issues which should be considered when using this feature:

  • Following Actual Tools advanced features are not available for command prompt windows completely or partially due to such windows' intrinsic peculiarities:

    • Remove Standard Window Parts action is available partially: you can't remove the border/title bar from a command prompt window
    • Copy/Paste buttons' behavior depends on the concrete application (standard keyboard combinations Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V, which are sent to a window, are interpreted by different applications in a different way)
    All other features are free to use!

  • Command prompt windows support requires two additional executable modules - ActualToolsConsoleHelper.exe and ConsoleHelper.dll - which are located in Actual Window Manager's installation folder. Some anti-viral or anti-adware suits may treat these files as dangerous and try to block/delete them. WE FULLY GUARANTEE THAT THESE FILES DON'T CONTAIN ANY HARMFUL CODE AND ARE 100% SAFE! Therefore, please, exclude them from your security system's processing so they could stay untouched because without these files this feature won't work.

  • The ActualToolsConsoleHelper.exe application requires the Debug Programs security privilege enabled for your user account to run successfully. Therefore, in case you don't have this privilege, after each logon Actual Window Manager will display the standard "Run As..." system dialog allowing you to provide credentials of any account that does have this privilege (all accounts from the Administrators group do by default). If you fail to provide the required privilege for the ActualToolsConsoleHelper.exe application in any way (either modifying your account privileges in the Local Security Policy editor or providing credentials of any administrative account) - this feature won't work.

  • Once enabled, this feature will work until the full system reboot (or session restart in Windows Vista) even if you disable the Enable support of command prompt windows and console applications option.

  • Specially for software developers: Once the command prompt windows support is enabled, be careful when debugging console applications - in such case, all currently open console windows may stop responding until the debug session is finished or terminated. Therefore, we DO NOT recommend to use the console debuggers (like Turbo Debugger 5.5) to debug console applications, having the command prompt windows support enabled - because in such case debugger's window itself may stop responding that will lead to mutual lock-up!