Windows has something called ‘Environment Variables’. These are essentially paths and values that point the OS to important locations when there is a need to save files or access essential information about the system. A subset of Environment Variables is the Path variable which points the system to EXE files. Adding a path to an EXE file allows users to access it from anywhere without having to switch to the actual directory. Here’s how to set Path Environment Variables in Windows 10.
You can add any path that you like and there are no restrictions to which drive or folder the EXE should be in. You will need administrative rights to add a Path variable.
Path Environment Variables
Open Control Panel and go to System and Security>System. Alternatively, just type the following in the address bar in File Explorer.
Control Panel\System and Security\System
This will take you to the following screen. Click Advanced System Settings.
On the System Properties screen, go to the Advanced tab. Click the Environment Variables button at the very bottom. On the Environment Variables window, select Path from the User variables section and click Edit.
On the Edit Environment variable window, click the New button. This will add a new field inside the list of paths. Once it’s active, click the Browse button and navigate to the folder where the EXE that you want to add to Path environment variables is. Click Ok, and you’re done.
Using Path Environment Variable
When you add an EXE path as an environment variable, you can access the program from any command line. The command line in Windows being the Command Prompt, you can open a Command Prompt in any location and run commands. Which paths you add is entirely up to you since you know which programs you need to access from the Command Prompt. You might, for example, want to add ADB tools as a path variable.
In this brief guide, we’ve talked about adding the path to an EXE however, you can add the path to other executable file types as well. For example, Windows supports running .com, .exe, .bat, and .cmd files from the command line. While this adds considerable convenience, remember that it’s to make using the Command Prompt easier. You can add any path you want to it but keep it clean and add only what’s necessary. Too many paths aren’t going to slow you system down nor are they going to interfere with how you run commands but for long term sanity, keep it concise and if you stop using a particular program, remove its path from environment variables.