Windows Command Line

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Batch Parameters

The following 2 tables are based on the Microsoft XP batch reference [1].

Modifier Description Example ("c:\usr\appl\test.cmd")
%~1 Expands %1 and removes any surrounding quotation marks (""). %~0 : c:\usr\appl\test.cmd
%~f1 Expands %1 to a fully qualified path name. %~f0 : c:\usr\appl\test.cmd
%~d1 Expands %1 to a drive letter. %~d0 : c:
%~p1 Expands %1 to a path. %~p0 : \usr\appl\
%~n1 Expands %1 to a file name. %~n0 : test
%~x1 Expands %1 to a file extension. %~x0 : .cmd
%~s1 Expanded path contains short names only. %~s0 : c:\usr\appl\test.cmd
%~a1 Expands %1 to file attributes. %~a0 : --a------
%~t1 Expands %1 to date and time of file. %~t0 : 10/23/2009 16:19
%~z1 Expands %1 to size of file. %~z0 : 274
%~$PATH:1 Searches the directories listed in the PATH environment variable and expands %1 to the fully qualified name of the first one found. If the environment variable name is not defined or the file is not found, this modifier expands to the empty string. %~$PATH:0 : Path

The commands can be combined, some examples:

Modifier Description Example ("c:\usr\appl\test.cmd")
%~dp1 Expands %1 to a drive letter and path. %~dp0 : C:\usr\Appl\
%~nx1 Expands %1 to a file name and extension. %~nx0 : Test.cmd
%~dp$PATH:0 Searches the directories listed in the PATH environment variable for %1 and expands to the drive letter and path of the first one found. %-dp$PATH:0 : 0
%~ftza1 Expands %1 to a dir-like output line. %~ftaza0 : --a------ 10/23/2009 16:28 384 C:\usr\Appl\Test.cmd

If then else

Nowadays cmd scripting has the option:

  if @%PARAMETER%==@ (
       Call :CreateParameter
  ) else (
       Call :ParameterExists

Since execution of the lines is based on the length of the command line and the whole if..then..else..endif is one command line be careful NOT to create too long lines. If lines are too long the cryptical error  Can not install .


Labels has to begin with a colon. If you get randomly the error message:

 The system cannot find the batch label specified - <name of the label>

and this label does exist then possibly you are using: [2]

  • a non-windows end-of-line (i.e. UNIX style).
  • the label jumping-to must span a block boundary.

The reason of these strange errors can drive people mad [3]. There are a lot of examples and solutions but believe me. it is always the not Windows EOL. Check your favorite editor!


Subroutines are very useful. The following subroutine is an example which shows a lot of tip and tricks. The first examples makes usage of string manipulations [4], the second one is simplier and more straightforward to the goal [5]

Please note the usage of the EnableDelayedExpamsion. Without this settings the batch file does not work coprrect. See the settings of  cmd /v:on  option for more explanation (Use  cmd /? ).

SetLocal EnableDelayedExpansion
01  Set _DeQuoteVar=%1
02  Call  Set _DeQuoteString=%%!_DeQuoteVar!%%
03  if [!_DeQuoteString:~0^,1!]==[^"] (
04    if [!_DeQuoteString:~-1!]==[^"] (
05      Set _DeQuoteString=!_DeQuoteString:~1,-1!
06    ) Else (Goto :EOF)
07  ) Else (Goto :EOF)
08  Set !_DeQuoteVar!=!_DeQuoteString!
09  Set _DeQuoteVar=
10  Set _DeQuoteString=
11  Goto :EOF

01: Sets the variable DeQuoteVar to the 1st paramater of the function
02: Call Set is used to replace one variable with values from another.
03: Removes the preceding quote. The !..! is used for the EnableDelayedExpansion.
04: Removes the ending quote, again needs EnableDelayedExpansion.

01   setlocal
02   set theString=%~1
03   endlocal&set ret=%theString%
04 goto :eof

01: makes it local 02: The tilde reomoves both quoteson the 1st parameter
03: Ends the local and returns the value
04: Performs the return

In general a function can be used: [6]

:: -----------------------------------------------
:: What's the function doing...
:: Parms and description
:: Version number and Author
:<Function Name> <Argument list>
  <Body of function>
  endlocal&<Set return values>
  goto :EOF
:: -----------------------------------------------


:: -----------------------------------------------
:: Removes the quotes around a string
:: param %1 The string to be stripped
:: return   String without quotes
:: - Author
   set theString=%~1
  endlocal&set ret=%theString%
  goto :eof
:: -----------------------------------------------

Example CMD-Files

Unix la in Windows

The Unix command la (ls -Alh) is a very nice command. To have the same in Windows use: <syntaxhighlight lang="bash"> @Echo off

-- Unix ls -al implementation on Windows. --
-- Author: Harm Frielink 2010 --
-- Copy this file to the windows system32 directory --
-- %WINDIR%\System32 --
-- - 23 Sep 2010 - Introduction --
   dir /ogn /a /n /4 %*


See also




  1. Microsft Windows XP, Batch file reference.
  2. Stack Overflow, Why the system can not find the batch label, Common pitfalls in windows scripting.
  3. Batch-as-batch-can! (27.1.2006)
  4. SS64, Syntax-dequote
  5. Stack Overflow, How do you strip quotes out of an echoed string in a windows batch-file.
  6. Ritchy Lawrence Website, batch file library.