PATH

Display or set a search path for executable files

Syntax
      PATH pathname [;pathname] [;pathname] [;pathname]...
      PATH
      PATH ;

Key
   pathname : drive letter and/or folder
    ;       : the command 'PATH ;' will clear the path

PATH without parameters will display the current path.

The %PATH% environment variable contains a list of folders. When a command is issued at the CMD prompt, the operating system will first look for an executable file in the current folder, if not found it will scan %PATH% to find it.

Use the PATH command to display or change the list of folders stored in the %PATH% environment variable.

To view each item on a single line use this:

for %G in ("%path:;=" "%") do @echo %G

Or in a batch file:

for %%G in ("%path:;=" "%") do @echo %%G

To add items to the current path, include %PATH% in your new setting.
For Example:

PATH=%PATH%;C:\Program Files\My Application

Note you do not need to surround each part of the path with double quotes, PATH will always treat spaces as part of the filename.

Permanent Changes

Changes made using the PATH command are NOT permanent, they apply to the current CMD prompt only and remain only until the CMD window is closed.

To permanently change the PATH use

Control Panel, System, Environment, System Variables
Control Panel, System, Environment, User Variables

The %PATH% variable is set as both a system and user variable, the 2 values are combined to give the PATH for the currently logged in user. This is explained in full by MS Product Support Article Q100843

Be wary of using commands like SETX to modify the PATH - the User path can be edited, but the System path remains read-only for most users. If you try to delete an old value and add a new one it is very common for the 'delete' to fail and the 'add' to succeed, resulting in duplicate values being added to the path.

If you are trying to modify the path to add settings for a single application, a reasonably safe method is to use a second variable:
e.g.

SetX MYAPP "C:\Program Files\My App" -m

Now include your new variable in the path like so ...C:\Windows\system32;%MYAPP%

You can now easily change that one variable %MYAPP% at any time in the future and the PATH will reflect the new value.

Terminology

For a file stored as:
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat.exe

The Drive is:
C:

The Filename is:
Acrobat.exe

The Path is:
\Program Files\Adobe\

The Pathname is:
\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat.exe

The Full Pathname is
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat.exe

PATH is an internal command.

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Related:

SET - Display, set, or remove environment variables.
PATHMAN - Resource Kit utility - modify system and user paths. Pathman can resolve duplicate characters, and can improve performance by removing duplicate paths. For details see Pathman.wri in the resource kit.
DLL Search order - SafeDllSearchMode (Win XP)
Fix Path - Bill Stewart's path utility
Powershell: DIR Env: or "$Env:path"
Equivalent bash command (Linux): env - Display, set, or remove environment variables - PATH/CDPATH/MAILPATH


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