Using MS-DOS Shell to Format Low-Density Disks (49717)
The information in this article applies to:
• Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 4.0
• Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 4.01
• Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 5.0
• Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 5.0a
• Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 6.0
• Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 6.2
• Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 6.21
• Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 6.22
This article was previously published under Q49717
The MS-DOS Shell's "DOS Utilities" title list contains a FORMAT command. If
you select this utility, the MS-DOS Shell displays a dialog box and a
default parameter, of "a:". This is documented on Page 33 of the "Microsoft
MS-DOS Shell User's Guide" manual for version 4.0.
If you have a high-density drive (that is, 5.25-inch 1.2 MB or 3.5-inch
1.44 MB) and high-density floppies, you should just press the ENTER key. If
you have a low-density drive, this is not a concern because only low-
density disks can be used. You just need to be careful within the MS-DOS
Shell or at the command line when using low-density disks in a high-density
drive. You usually won't need to change the default of "a:".
In the above situation, you must add to the "a:" default an extra parameter
to format low-density disks in a high-density drive. For 5.25-inch 360K
disks, the parameter is /F:360K. For 3.5-inch 720K disks, the parameter is
/F:720K. This makes the dialog box display either "a: /F:360K" or "a:
/F:720K", depending on disk size.
Changing parameters in a dialog box is often forgotten while using the
MS-DOS Shell, since the MS-DOS Shell allows you to point and click without
typing, and in many cases without any need for documentation.
If you have a high-density disk drive and format both low-density and high-
density disks in the drive, you can avoid this problem by adding a program
with a title similar to "Format low density" that would format a disk with
the "/4" option.
The default MS-DOS Shell command definition for the FORMAT command is as
format [/t"Format Utility"/i"Enter drive to Format."/p
"Parameters . . "/d"a: "/r]||pause||
The line above has been split immediately following the "/p" parameter, but
should fit on one line. The ||'s above are generated with the F4 key.
To make a "Format low density" program entry, just copy the entry to a new
entry, change the program name, then change the program's command options.
The string in quotation marks following "/t" can be changed to "Format low
density Utility", and the string following "/d" can be changed to "a:
/F:360K" or "a: /F:720K", depending on disk size.
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