A Quick Windows Command Line Tab Key Shortcut

You might know you can use the tab key to view the files in a folder one at a time on the command line. However, I recently stumbled into another way to help navigate folders with a lot of files in the command line. Let’s say you’re looking for a file named “stuff.txt”.

  1. Type “s”.
  2. Hit the tab key.

You just jumped right to the files that start with “s”. If there are not many files, you might go straight to “stuff.txt”. The point is that you can jump straight to the letter of your file rather than scrolling through a mountain of files by hitting the tab key 50 times. Once you get to the relative place in the alphabet of your target file, you can scroll forward in the file list with the tab key or move backward by pressing shift + tab.

Multi-Letter Example

Type “st” + tab to target more precise multi-letter sequences.

I felt a productive zen when I accidentally realized this little command line quirk can save a lot of time. Especially when you have a folder with 50 or hundreds of files. Of course, you can always type in the file name directly. Using the tab key is very handy to browse if you don’t know the exact file name. This is a nice little trick to add to your bag of Windows command line skills!