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How to enter file or folder paths with spaces in Command Prompt on Windows 10

We share a lot of tips and tricks that involve running commands in Command Prompt on Windows 10. A lot of common things, such as pinging a server, or checking the status of your network switch are done vie Command Prompt. If you’re not comfortable using the Command Prompt beyond commands that are already written out and to be executed as they are, you tend to miss out on lots of useful things you can do from the Command Prompt. One, rather frequent question that new users have when using the Command Prompt is how to enter the name or address of a folder or file that has a space in its name or in its path.

Generally speaking, if you’re trying to run a command that involves specifying the path to a folder or file, and the path is incorrect i.e., Command Prompt is unable to see it, the error message won’t tell you as much. The message that Command Prompt returns will vary depending on the command you’ve run and it will seem more like there’s something wrong with the command, rather than the path making it more difficult to trouble shoot the problem. The fix is really simple.

Entering paths with spaces

The trick is the double-quotes. Make it a rule of thumb to enclose any and all file paths that you enter in Command Prompt in double quotes.

The following command will not run. The path has a space in it and at that space, the command breaks and Command Prompt thinks you’ve entered a new command or parameter.

XCOPY C:\Users\fatiw\OneDrive\Desktop\My test Folder D:\ /T /E

This command will work. The only difference between the two is that in the second one, the path is in double-quotes.

XCOPY "C:\Users\fatiw\OneDrive\Desktop\My test Folder" D:\ /T /E

Even if your path doesn’t have a space in it, it’s a good idea to enclose it in double-quotes and develop the habit of doing it. If you forget, or you’re dealing with a longer path, a simple error like this might be hard to spot.

This holds true for all command line apps that you use on Windows 10. In PowerShell, any command that requires a file or folder path to be entered should be enclosed in double-quotes. If the path doesn’t have a space in it, you’ll be fine but if it does, the command won’t run so again, this is about developing a habit to save yourself trouble later.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks, Fatima.
    Ashamed to admit, but i forgot that C: must be in quotes too, no just a directory name !!!
    Your article was jut what i needed.
    Best Regards!

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