By Netorica


2012-03-03 12:58:55 8 Comments

I am trying to add C:\xampp\php to my system PATH environment variable in Windows.

I have already added it using the Environment Variables dialog box.

But when I type into my console:

C:\>path

it doesn't show the new C:\xampp\php directory:

PATH=D:\Program Files\Autodesk\Maya2008\bin;C:\Ruby192\bin;C:\WINDOWS\system32;C:\WINDOWS;
C:\WINDOWS\System32\Wbem;C:\PROGRA~1\DISKEE~2\DISKEE~1\;c:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL
Server\90\Tools\binn\;C:\Program Files\QuickTime\QTSystem\;D:\Program Files\TortoiseSVN\bin
;D:\Program Files\Bazaar;C:\Program Files\Android\android-sdk\tools;D:\Program Files\
Microsoft Visual Studio\Common\Tools\WinNT;D:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\Common
\MSDev98\Bin;D:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\Common\Tools;D:\Program Files\
Microsoft Visual Studio\VC98\bin

I have two questions:

  1. Why did this happen? Is there something I did wrong?
  2. Also, how do I add directories to my PATH variable using the console (and programmatically, with a batch file)?

17 comments

@svinec 2019-10-20 18:03:17

As trivial as it may be, I had to restart Windows when faced with this problem.

I am running Windows 7 x64. I did a manual update to the system PATH variable. This worked okay if I ran cmd.exe from the stat menu. But if I type "cmd" in the Windows Explorer address bar, it seems to load the PATH from elsewhere, which doesn't have my manual changes.

(To avoid doubt - yes, I did close and rerun cmd a couple of times before I restarted and it didn't help.)

@Peter Mortensen 2020-06-27 16:51:03

Is there an explanation?

@svinec 2020-06-28 17:29:17

I don't know the technicality behind this, but Windows is just notorious with this, always restart first and only after that continue troubleshooting...

@womd 2019-03-19 09:37:26

Use pathed from gtools.

It does things in an intuitive way. For example:

pathed /REMOVE "c:\my\folder"
pathed /APPEND "c:\my\folder"

It shows results without the need to spawn a new cmd!

@Bill Moore 2017-08-28 01:24:33

A better alternative to Control Panel is to use this freeware program from SourceForge called Pathenator.

However, it only works for a system that has .NET 4.0 or greater such as Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10.

@icc97 2016-12-29 12:04:17

Safer SETX

Nod to all the comments on the @Nafscript's initial SETX answer.

  • SETX by default will update your user path.
  • SETX ... /M will update your system path.
  • %PATH% contains the system path with the user path appended

Warnings

  1. Backup your PATH - SETX will truncate your junk longer than 1024 characters
  2. Don't call SETX %PATH%;xxx - adds the system path into the user path
  3. Don't call SETX %PATH%;xxx /M - adds the user path into the system path
  4. Excessive batch file use can cause blindness1

The ss64 SETX page has some very good examples. Importantly it points to where the registry keys are for SETX vs SETX /M

User Variables:

HKCU\Environment

System Variables:

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Environment

Usage instructions

Append to User PATH

append_user_path.cmd

@ECHO OFF
REM usage: append_user_path "path"
SET Key="HKCU\Environment"
FOR /F "usebackq tokens=2*" %%A IN (`REG QUERY %Key% /v PATH`) DO Set CurrPath=%%B
ECHO %CurrPath% > user_path_bak.txt
SETX PATH "%CurrPath%";%1

Append to System PATH

append_system_path.cmd. Must be run as administrator.

(It's basically the same except with a different Key and the SETX /M modifier.)

@ECHO OFF
REM usage: append_system_path "path"
SET Key="HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Environment"
FOR /F "usebackq tokens=2*" %%A IN (`REG QUERY %Key% /v PATH`) DO Set CurrPath=%%B
ECHO %CurrPath% > system_path_bak.txt
SETX PATH "%CurrPath%";%1 /M

Alternatives

Finally there's potentially an improved version called SETENV recommended by the ss64 SETX page that splits out setting the user or system environment variables.


1. Not strictly true

@user6017774 2016-12-21 01:08:47

In a command prompt you tell Cmd to use Windows Explorer's command line by prefacing it with start.

So start Yourbatchname.

Note you have to register as if its name is batchfile.exe.

Programs and documents can be added to the registry so typing their name without their path in the Start - Run dialog box or shortcut enables Windows to find them.

This is a generic reg file. Copy the lines below to a new Text Document and save it as anyname.reg. Edit it with your programs or documents.

In paths, use \\ to separate folder names in key paths as regedit uses a single \ to separate its key names. All reg files start with REGEDIT4. A semicolon turns a line into a comment. The @ symbol means to assign the value to the key rather than a named value.

The file doesn't have to exist. This can be used to set Word.exe to open Winword.exe.

Typing start batchfile will start iexplore.exe.

REGEDIT4
;The bolded name below is the name of the document or program, <filename>.<file extension>

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\Batchfile.exe]

; The @ means the path to the file is assigned to the default value for the key.
; The whole path in enclosed in a quotation mark ".

@="\"C:\\Program Files\\Internet Explorer\\iexplore.exe\""

; Optional Parameters. The semicolon means don't process the line. Remove it if you want to put it in the registry

; Informs the shell that the program accepts URLs.

;"useURL"="1"

; Sets the path that a program will use as its' default directory. This is commented out.

;"Path"="C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Office\\Office\\"

You've already been told about path in another answer. Also see doskey /? for cmd macros (they only work when typing).

You can run startup commands for CMD. From Windows Resource Kit Technical Reference

AutoRun

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor

Data type Range Default value
REG_SZ  list of commands  There is no default value for this entry.

Description

Contains commands which are executed each time you start Cmd.exe.

@such_ke_nasdeeq 2016-11-22 20:34:43

Checking the above suggestions on Windows 10 LTSB, and with a glimpse on the "help" outlines (that can be viewed when typing 'command /?' on the cmd), brought me to the conclusion that the PATH command changes the system environment variable Path values only for the current session, but after reboot all the values reset to their default- just as they were prior to using the PATH command.

On the other hand using the SETX command with administrative privileges is way more powerful. It changes those values for good (or at least until the next time this command is used or until next time those values are manually GUI manipulated... ).

The best SETX syntax usage that worked for me:

SETX PATH "%PATH%;C:\path\to\where\the\command\resides"

where any equal sign '=' should be avoided, and don't you worry about spaces! There isn't any need to insert any more quotation marks for a path that contains spaces inside it - the split sign ';' does the job.

The PATH keyword that follows the SETX defines which set of values should be changed among the System Environment Variables possible values, and the %PATH% (the word PATH surrounded by the percent sign) inside the quotation marks, tells the OS to leave the existing PATH values as they are and add the following path (the one that follows the split sign ';') to the existing values.

@Netorica 2016-02-17 04:10:42

Aside from all the answers, if you want a nice GUI tool to edit your Windows environment variables you can use Rapid Environment Editor.

Try it! It's safe to use and is awesome!

@icc97 2016-12-29 08:10:46

Windows 10 has significantly improved the Path Environment variable editor now. Only took them 20 years to get round to it.

@zar 2015-07-01 15:11:42

You don't need any set or setx command. Simply open the terminal and type:

PATH

This shows the current value of PATH variable. Now you want to add directory to it? Simply type:

PATH %PATH%;C:\xampp\php

If for any reason you want to clear the PATH variable (no paths at all or delete all paths in it), type:

PATH ;

Update

Like Danial Wilson noted in comment below, it sets the path only in the current session. To set the path permanently, use setx but be aware, although that sets the path permanently, but not in the current session, so you have to start a new command line to see the changes. More information is here.

To check if an environmental variable exist or see its value, use the ECHO command:

echo %YOUR_ENV_VARIABLE%

@Dustin Woodard 2015-09-20 02:07:54

It worked :) how about that! 'PATH %PATH%;' I can remember that

@Daniel Wilson 2015-10-10 13:34:18

I think this only works for the instance of the cmd session, use setx to change it permanently

@icc97 2017-03-02 17:34:59

Don't include quotes with this. For example call PATH %PATH%;C:\Program Files\... instead of PATH "%PATH%;C:\Program Files\..."

@STWilson 2017-03-09 20:39:25

Don't use setx! You risk truncation of your path variable, losing many other paths you spent time setting. Heed warnings above.

@West Yang 2018-10-12 02:25:12

@STWilson, too late to see your comment!

@user2423718 2019-10-20 17:59:12

It looks like it worked but after i close the console and reopen, the path is not there and i can't find anything in the advanced system settings->environment->path

@hevi 2016-09-06 14:37:53

  • Command line changes will not be permanent and will be lost when the console closes.
  • The path works like first comes first served.
  • You may want to override other already included executables. For instance, if you already have another version on your path and you want to add different version without making a permanent change on path, you should put the directory at the beginning of the command.

To override already included executables;

set PATH=C:\xampp\php;%PATH%;

@nclord 2016-03-18 16:09:00

Handy if you are already in the directory you want to add to PATH:

set PATH=%PATH%;%CD%

It works with the standard Windows cmd, but not in PowerShell.

For PowerShell, the %CD% equivalent is [System.Environment]::CurrentDirectory.

@Paulo Matos 2016-03-21 14:43:41

My Powershell says %CD% is not recognized.

@nclord 2016-04-19 14:00:21

@PauloMatos Could try using [System.Environment]::CurrentDirectory

@Hans Passant 2012-03-03 13:23:41

This only modifies the registry. An existing process won't use these values. A new process will do so if it is started after this change and doesn't inherit the old environment from its parent.

You didn't specify how you started the console session. The best way to ensure this is to exit the command shell and run it again. It should then inherit the updated PATH environment variable.

@Hans Passant 2014-09-12 16:21:41

Hmm, no, it truly really only modifies the registry. Ought to be a bit obvious from doing this in a Control Panel dialog instead of, say, the command prompt with the PATH command. You can observe what it does easily with SysInternals' Process Monitor, should you care. Using PATH is not the same, any changes you make will be lost when the console closes. SETX is a way to make persistent changes, like the dialog.

@BrainSlugs83 2015-07-03 21:56:58

This is correct. You always have to restart your console session before it picks up new environment variables.

@John_West 2016-06-21 16:28:32

Would the console session update the variables if WM_SETTINGCHANGE message was sent from an apllication? stackoverflow.com/a/8358361

@Hans Passant 2016-06-21 16:35:25

It is theoretically possible, no practical CRT implementation I know of actually does this. Explorer does.

@Euro Micelli 2016-12-02 03:43:20

Background information corroborating this: blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20150915-00/?p=91591

@David A. Gray 2018-07-23 07:35:42

Yes, it will, and I have implemented this feature a couple of times when I needed an environment variable to be both persisted in the Windows Registry and available for immediate use in the active session.

@Ifedi Okonkwo 2015-03-17 20:24:16

I would use PowerShell instead!

To add a directory to PATH using PowerShell, do the following:

$PATH = [Environment]::GetEnvironmentVariable("PATH")
$xampp_path = "C:\xampp\php"
[Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable("PATH", "$PATH;$xampp_path")

To set the variable for all users, machine-wide, the last line should be like:

[Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable("PATH", "$PATH;$xampp_path", "Machine")

In a PowerShell script, you might want to check for the presence of your C:\xampp\php before adding to PATH (in case it has been previously added). You can wrap it in an if conditional.

So putting it all together:

$PATH = [Environment]::GetEnvironmentVariable("PATH")
$xampp_path = "C:\xampp\php"
if( $PATH -notlike "*"+$xampp_path+"*" ){
    [Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable("PATH", "$PATH;$xampp_path", "Machine")
}

Better still, one could create a generic function. Just supply the directory you wish to add:

function AddTo-Path{
param(
    [string]$Dir
)

    if( !(Test-Path $Dir) ){
        Write-warning "Supplied directory was not found!"
        return
    }
    $PATH = [Environment]::GetEnvironmentVariable("PATH")
    if( $PATH -notlike "*"+$Dir+"*" ){
        [Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable("PATH", "$PATH;$Dir", "Machine")
    }
}

You could make things better by doing some polishing. For example, using Test-Path to confirm that your directory actually exists.

@InsOp 2016-09-13 21:34:44

for calling SetEnvironmentVariable with the Machine parameter you need to open the PowerShell with administrator rights

@abbood 2017-07-27 11:29:56

it's bitterly disappointing that this "power" shell doesn't recognize %userprofile% nor $userprofile.. but then again, this is windows we're talking about

@nyuszika7h 2017-08-12 09:04:38

@abbood What you're looking for is $env:userprofile.

@René Nyffenegger 2019-02-23 07:23:08

You should also specify either user or machine in the call of GetEnvironmentVariable. Otherwise, $PATH will contain the value of both the user and machine part of the registry which will unecessarily blow up the path variable when storing it again.

@Nafscript 2015-02-28 05:12:38

WARNING: This solution may be destructive to your PATH, and the stability of your system. As a side effect, it will merge your user and system PATH, and truncate PATH to 1024 characters. The effect of this command is irreversible. Make a backup of PATH first. See the comments for more information.

Don't blindly copy-and-paste this. Use with caution.

You can permanently add a path to PATH with the setx command:

setx /M path "%path%;C:\your\path\here\"

Remove the /M flag if you want to set the user PATH instead of the system PATH.

Notes:

  • The setx command is only available in Windows 7 and later.
  • You should run this command from an elevated command prompt.

  • If you only want to change it for the current session, use set.

@Lu55 2015-05-29 15:49:52

SETX /M path "%path%;C:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin\" to set PATH value on machine level

@Peter Gordon 2015-06-29 19:09:25

Why is this this not the accepted answer? I'd imagine most people would want to set their path permanently...

@BrainSlugs83 2015-07-03 22:02:06

@pgmann The accepted answer also permanent. The only one that's not is the crazy upvoted one using SET.

@DavidPostill 2015-09-25 19:46:04

@FF_Dev 2015-10-01 09:51:05

WARNING : Because of the use of %PATH% variable, this command merge global env variables with users ones. Doesn't it ? This may creates unwanted side effects, especially with the /M switch

@FF_Dev 2015-10-01 09:58:07

WARNING 2: The %PATH% variable may not be in sync with environment variables as it is loaded at the launch of the command prompt and never reloaded afterward (even when executing setx command). Also it could have been changed locally by previously executed scripts.

@overgroove 2016-08-23 16:05:07

Didn't work for me. At least when using "set" instead of "setx". I needed to add an = between the variable name and value i.e. set path="..."

@icc97 2016-12-29 09:40:24

@overgroove That's because confusingly SET and SETX have similar but different syntaxes. SET PATH=... vs SETX PATH ...

@Balmipour 2017-06-27 08:04:01

WARNING again : Since this method merges/truncates data, be sure to FIRST BACK-UP your %PATH% variable value. I know, this might seem obvious, but I'm not used to such destructive and permanent behaviours with such a little command by our days (Especially since I've been playing with path for years). While it just screwed my PATH, I'd like to be able to restore it, and... I'm not :). This answer deserves a much more clear WARNING, about the fact that this method will, at the same time add data, truncate data and be non-reversible.

@geneorama 2018-12-27 20:53:42

Finally, I can get a true Linux experience in Windows. Reminds me of devrant.com/rants/618148/rant

@Grzegorz Gajos 2015-10-30 14:22:06

Regarding point 2 I'm using a simple batch file that is populating PATH or other environment variables for me. Therefore, there is no pollution of environment variables by default. This batch file is accessible from everywhere so I can type:

c:\>mybatchfile
-- here all env. are available
c:\>php file.php

@Tomasz Gandor 2016-09-13 22:41:53

This is an important difference between *nix-es and Windows. The batch runs in the same shell, and changes to the environment stay after it exits (at session scope). However, this cuts both ways: a batch file can obliterate your environment. (BTW, on *nix-es you'd just have to source such a file, like . mybatchfile).

@devkabiir 2018-12-23 02:45:42

Hi @grzegorz-gajos, I was looking for exactly that, your link for more details gives 404. Any alternatives?

@Grzegorz Gajos 2019-01-02 07:38:04

Sorry, the content from the link is no longer available. I removed.

@Serb 2018-10-24 20:50:29

  1. I have installed PHP that time. Extracted php-7***.zip into C:\php\
  2. Backup my current PATH environment variable: run cmd, and execute command: path >C:\path-backup.txt

  3. Get my current path value into C:\path.txt file (same way)

  4. Modify path.txt (sure, my path length is more than 1024 chars, windows is running few years)
    • I have removed duplicates paths in there, like 'C:\Windows; or C:\Windows\System32; or C:\Windows\System32\Wbem; - I've got twice.
    • Remove uninstalled programs paths as well. Example: C:\Program Files\NonExistSoftware;
    • This way, my path string length < 1024 :)))
    • at the end of path string add ;C:\php\
    • Copy path value only into buffer with framed double quotes! Example: "C:\Windows;****;C:\php\" No PATH= should be there!!!
  5. Open Windows PowerShell as Administrator.
  6. Run command:

setx path "Here you should insert string from buffer (new path value)"

  1. Re-run your terminal (I use "Far manager") and check: php -v

@Pranav Sharma 2018-10-17 02:06:22

If you run the command cmd, it will update all system variables for that command window.

@Farway 2019-07-24 13:49:46

In a sense. What happens is that you start a new session within the current session. Leaving will require you call exit twice, first to close the new and then to close the first session (with the old environment).

@JimR 2012-03-03 13:03:11

Option 1

After you change PATH with the GUI, close and re-open the console window.

This works because only programs started after the change will see the new PATH.

Option 2

Execute this command in the command window you have open:

set PATH=%PATH%;C:\your\path\here\

This command appends C:\your\path\here\ to the current PATH.

Breaking it down:

  • set – A command that changes cmd's environment variables only for the current cmd session; other programs and the system are unaffected.
  • PATH= – Signifies that PATH is the environment variable to be temporarily changed.
  • %PATH%;C:\your\path\here\ – The %PATH% part expands to the current value of PATH, and ;C:\your\path\here\ is then concatenated to it. This becomes the new PATH.

@JimR 2012-06-01 09:17:09

@Ilya: I meant for you to open the console window after the path was changed in MyComputer->Properties->Advanced->Env Variables->Path. Some windows apps will propagate environment variable changes after they're started and some will not. WinXP cmd.exe does not.

@David 天宇 Wong 2015-02-05 04:35:44

if I exit the console and I rerun I have to reset the path. Any idea how to make this change permanent?

@theB3RV 2015-02-13 15:02:51

@David天宇Wong If you follow "My Computer" > "Properties" > "Advanced" > "Environment Variables" > "Path". and add the directory to the end of that string, it will stay. Just be sure to open console after making the change.

@David 天宇 Wong 2015-02-13 16:24:38

yup @theB3RV, it's just a long way to do something simple. It's weird that there is no persistant command that can be typed in the console

@theB3RV 2015-02-13 17:01:07

@David天宇Wong Just found "SETX is a way to make persistent changes, like the dialog." so the SETX command should do it

@BrainSlugs83 2015-07-03 21:57:34

This is not persistent. As soon as you close your console window, your changes will be lost.

@JimR 2015-08-18 21:29:38

@BrainSlugs83 I'm guessing either I wasn't clear enough or you didn't see the first half of the answer.

@Murali Murugesan 2016-08-01 09:53:24

What if path is already exists? It will be good to check for existance

@J3STER 2017-01-31 22:39:57

your answer seems to work only for the session, as soon as I exit and open a new command prompt, the path remains as it was at the start

@NET3 2018-01-13 15:01:30

"Open the console window after you change the system path"... it's really helped out. thank you

@K - Toxicity in SO is growing. 2019-09-12 09:38:44

And how do you do this with a space in directory path.

@kaltu 2020-03-15 02:27:37

It would be nicer if you add a note that Option 2 is session-wide, not system-wide.

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