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How to access Command Prompt when Windows 10 won’t boot

Windows 10 has a lot of great troubleshooting tools that can fix corrupt files, disk errors, and network problems on a system. A lot of these tools run from the Command Prompt. To some, this may be a disadvantage since not everyone is comfortable using a command-line tool but the tool can be accessed from outside Windows 10 i.e., even when you’re unable to boot to the desktop, you can still access Command Prompt which can be helpful when you can’t run GUI tools from the desktop.

Access Command Prompt when Windows 10 won’t boot

There are two ways to access Command Prompt when Windows 10 won’t boot. You can access it from the Troubleshoot menu, or you can access it from the installation media/the recovery environment. The recovery environment method should be used when you do not see the Windows 10 bootloader at all.

1. Windows 10 Troubleshoot menu

This method assumes that you see the Windows 10 logo and the loading animation when you press the power button on your screen. You’re basically stuck in a boot loop where the system keeps restarting.

  1. Press the power button on your Windows 10 system to turn it on.
  2. Wait for the Windows 10 logo to appear.
  3. Press and hold the power button to force the system to shut down.
  4. Turn the computer On again.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 until you see the Troubleshoot menu. It normally takes 3 forced shut downs to do the job.
  6. Once you see the Troubleshoot menu, go to Advanced Options>Command Prompt.

2. Windows 10 installation media/Recovery Environment

You must have Windows 10 installation media on hand. It doesn’t matter which version the media installs so long as you have it.

  1. Turn your Windows 10 system off.
  2. Turn the system On, and boot to BIOS.
  3. Set the first boot device to be the same as the device the installation media is on e.g., USB.
  4. Turn the system Off.
  5. Connect the installation media (usually a USB) to your system.
  6. Turn the system On.
  7. Allow the initial Windows 10 installation screen to load.
  8. Click the ‘Repair Computer’ option.
  9. Go to System Recovery Options>Command Prompt.


Once you have access to the Command Prompt, you can run almost all utilities that it supports. This includes running a disk check, a system file scan, and more. If things are looking bad and you might need to perform a fresh install, you can use Command Prompt to copy/move important files from the desktop to a different location or drive. It will take a little figuring out since everything will be done via commands but you will mostly be using commands to switch between folders and to copy/paste files.

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