Set path from command line

by admin on July 16, 2013

Users can run an executable from windows command prompt either by giving the absolute path of the file or just by the executable file name. In the latter case, Windows searches for the executable in a list of folders which is configured in environment variables. These environment variables are as below.

1. System path
2. User path

The values of these variables can be checked in system properties( Run sysdm.cpl from Run or computer properties). Initially user specific path environment variable will be empty. Users can add paths of the directories having executables to this variable. Administrators can modify the system path environment variable also.

How to set path from command line?

In Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 we can set path from command line  using ‘setx’ command.

setx path "%path%;c:\directoryPath"

For example, to add c:\dir1\dir2 to the path variable, we can run the below command.

setx path "%path%;c:\dir1\dir2"

Alternative way is to use Windows resource kit tools ‘pathman.exe‘. Using this command we can even remove a directory from path variable. See download windows resource kit tools. This works for Windows 7 also.

Add directory to system path environment variable:

Open administrator command prompt
Run  the below command

pathman /as directoryPath

Remove path from system path environment variable:
Run the below command from elevated command prompt

pathman /rs directoryPath

Setting user path environment variable

For user environment varlables, admin privileges are not required. We can run the below command to add a directory to user path environment variable.

pathman /au directoryPath

To remove a directory from user path, you can run the below command.

pathman /ru directoryPath

Default option is not allowed more than ‘2’ time(s)

You get this error if you have not enclosed ‘path’ in double quotes. See the below example for setting the path of firefox.

C:\Users\>setx path %path%;"c:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\"
ERROR: Invalid syntax. Default option is not allowed more than '2' time(s).
Type "SETX /?" for usage.

Now if you move %path% to be in the double quotes

C:\Users\>setx path "%path%;c:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\"

SUCCESS: Specified value was saved.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo March 20, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Could a context entry be created for folders, perhaps an extended one… to add to path?

what about a multi-verb option, like copy as path?


Johny Why June 22, 2014 at 7:29 pm

hi, when i use setx at an administrator command line, it creates a USER variable, NOT the SYSTEM variable. What am i doing wrong? How do i change the SYSTEM path at command prompt? -thx


Sebastian Bärgård August 13, 2014 at 10:12 am

Johny Why
Answer: Try add the parameter /M


Nuno October 15, 2014 at 8:56 am

Hi, is there a way I can add an extra variable instead on deleting the currently one and put a new Variable on the Path.

I used the command setx /M “c:\Options”, and what it does is delete the current one and then puts that one there, all I want is to add the new variable to the current one. -thx


admin October 16, 2014 at 4:47 am

Nuno, pathman described above does exactly that. You can download the resource tools kit and get it.

nalimleinad April 15, 2015 at 1:40 pm

setx path “%path%;C:\yourFolder”

Nir April 28, 2015 at 4:20 am

To set path for java & javac, can I add the paths to PATH or do I need to create the environment variable JAVA_HOME. I don’t have this defined, but windows does not seem to be able to find java binaries on my system.


admin November 19, 2015 at 6:56 am

You can directly add the folder to PATH. No need to define JAVA_HOME. However, adding JAVA_HOME separately avoids cluttering and helps to easily understand what is added.

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