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Is there an equivalent of 'which' on the Windows command line? - Stack Overflow

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Tags: command-line windows which where stackoverflow.com
Clipped on: 2020-01-25

Asked 11 years, 2 months ago
Active 3 months ago
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As I sometimes have path problems, where one of my own cmd scripts is hidden (shadowed) by another program (earlier on the path), I would like to be able to find the full path to a program on the Windows command line, given just its name.

Is there an equivalent to the UNIX command 'which'?

On UNIX, which command prints the full path of the given command to easily find and repair these shadowing problems.

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Foredecker: "which" searches the PATH for the executable that will be run if you type a command at the shell prompt. – Greg Hewgill Nov 20 '08 at 4:28
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    for example, if you have 5 versions of Java installed and you don't know which one is being used you can type "which java" and it gives you the PATH to the binary – ninesided Nov 20 '08 at 4:41
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    @Foredecker, MR says it's "where" in Win2k3 but Win2k3 wasn't part of the question. If "where" isn't in the other Windows versions, other answers are also valid. IMNSHO, the answer that works on all Windows versions is the best. Also, the other answers aren't wrong, just different ways of doing it. – paxdiablo Nov 22 '08 at 12:55
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    I know this question arose before SuperUser, but it probably belongs there. – palswim Oct 12 '10 at 17:04
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    There is no which command in standard Unix. The POSIX utility is type. The C Shell has a which command, and some systems have it as an external executable. For instance, on Debian Linux, which comes from a package called debutils. This external which does not "see" shell built-ins, aliases or functions. type does; Bash's type has an option to suppress that and just do a path lookup. – Kaz Apr 17 '15 at 16:09
  • 2471

    Windows Server 2003 and later (i.e. anything after Windows XP 32 bit) provide the where.exe program which does some of what which does, though it matches all types of files, not just executable commands. (It does not match built-in shell commands like cd.) It will even accept wildcards, so where nt* finds all files in your %PATH% and current directory whose names start with nt.

    Try where /? for help.

    Note that Windows PowerShell defines where as an alias for the Where-Object cmdlet, so if you want where.exe, you need to type the full name instead of omitting the .exe extension.

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    No, because grep examines the contents of its input, which you have to give explicitly. which and where.exe only look at the names of the files in a set of directories set in the PATH environment variables. – Michael Ratanapintha Dec 10 '11 at 23:46
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    @Ajedi32 - Correct, which is not in XP. As I said, "Windows Server 2003 and later". – Michael Ratanapintha Sep 25 '12 at 5:40
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    Works in Windows 8 – rob Apr 15 '13 at 15:07
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    watch out that this wont work in powershell unless you type where.exe – JonnyRaa Jan 28 '14 at 14:46
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    Remember that where.exe is not a shell builtin, you need to have %windir%\system32 on your %PATH% - which may not be the case, as using where suggests that you may be working on problems with your path! – Tomasz Gandor Jul 8 '15 at 9:00
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    While later versions of Windows have a where command, you can also do this with Windows XP by using the environment variable modifiers, as follows:

    c:\> for %i in (cmd.exe) do @echo.   %~$PATH:i
    c:\> for %i in (python.exe) do @echo.   %~$PATH:i

    You don't need any extra tools and it's not limited to PATH since you can substitute any environment variable (in the path format, of course) that you wish to use.

    And, if you want one that can handle all the extensions in PATHEXT (as Windows itself does), this one does the trick:

    @echo off
    setlocal enableextensions enabledelayedexpansion
    :: Needs an argument.
    if "x%1"=="x" (
        echo Usage: which ^<progName^>
        goto :end
    :: First try the unadorned filenmame.
    set fullspec=
    call :find_it %1
    :: Then try all adorned filenames in order.
    set mypathext=!pathext!
        :: Stop if found or out of extensions.
        if "x!mypathext!"=="x" goto :loop1end
        :: Get the next extension and try it.
        for /f "delims=;" %%j in ("!mypathext!") do set myext=%%j
        call :find_it %1!myext!
    :: Remove the extension (not overly efficient but it works).
        if not "x!myext!"=="x" (
            set myext=!myext:~1!
            set mypathext=!mypathext:~1!
            goto :loop2
        if not "x!mypathext!"=="x" set mypathext=!mypathext:~1!
        goto :loop1
    goto :eof
    :: Function to find and print a file in the path.
        for %%i in (%1) do set fullspec=%%~$PATH:i
        if not "x!fullspec!"=="x" @echo.   !fullspec!
        goto :eof

    It actually returns all possibilities but you can tweak it quite easily for specific search rules.

    answered Nov 20 '08 at 5:48
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    Hey, I wish I had learned that! Too bad it doesn't work with MS-DOS or Win9x (that is, with command.com). (Raymond Chen has a more "elaborate" version you can turn into a batch file: blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2005/01/20/357225.aspx ) – Michael Ratanapintha Jan 1 '09 at 3:27
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    @Michael, if you're still using DOS or Win95, finding executables on the path are the least of your problems :-) – paxdiablo Apr 9 '09 at 5:41
  • windows recognizes more than .exe as executable. Last time I coded a which back in W95/DOS days amdittedly, the search order was - current dir, then each path dir, for cmd.com, then cmd.exe, then cmd.bat So, even cmd.bat in current dir is executed befroe cmd.exe soemwhere in path – Mawg says reinstate Monica Mar 26 '10 at 0:46
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    @mawg, the original was for where you know the extension since it mirrors which under UNIX (where that extension-adding trickery doesn't occur). I've now added one which can do what you wish but it's no longer a simple command so much as a script. It first tries the unadorned command then each of the extension ones. Hope that helps. You can tweak it to your needs as you see fit (if you want the same search order as with Windows for example - this one shows all possibilities). – paxdiablo Mar 26 '10 at 1:34
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    To turn this into a batch script, create a file called "which.bat": @echo off for %%i in (%1) do @echo. %%~$PATH:%i To add it to an alias.bat script that you load everytime you run cmd.exe (put the above script in a new directory called C:\usr\aliases): DOSKEY which=C:\usr\aliases\which.bat $* Then you can make a script to launch cmd.exe with the alias.bat file: cmd.exe /K E:\usr\aliases\alias.bat – Brad T. Apr 25 '14 at 20:42
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    Under PowerShell, Get-Command will find executables anywhere in $Env:PATH.

    Get-Command eventvwr
    CommandType   Name          Definition
    -----------   ----          ----------
    Application   eventvwr.exe  c:\windows\system32\eventvwr.exe
    Application   eventvwr.msc  c:\windows\system32\eventvwr.msc

    It also finds PowerShell cmdlets, functions, aliases, files with custom executables extensions via $Env:PATHEXT, etc. defined for the current shell (quite akin to Bash's type -a foo) - making it a better go-to than other tools like where.exe, which.exe, etc which are unaware of these PowerShell commands.

    Finding executables using only part of the name

    gcm *disk*
    CommandType     Name                             Version    Source
    -----------     ----                             -------    ------
    Alias           Disable-PhysicalDiskIndication    Storage
    Alias           Enable-PhysicalDiskIndication    Storage
    Function        Add-PhysicalDisk           Storage
    Function        Add-VirtualDiskToMaskingSet    Storage
    Function        Clear-Disk                 Storage
    Cmdlet          Get-PmemDisk               PersistentMemory
    Cmdlet          New-PmemDisk               PersistentMemory
    Cmdlet          Remove-PmemDisk            PersistentMemory
    Application     diskmgmt.msc               C:\WINDOWS\system32\diskmgmt.msc
    Application     diskpart.exe                     10.0.17... C:\WINDOWS\system32\diskpart.exe
    Application     diskperf.exe                     10.0.17... C:\WINDOWS\system32\diskperf.exe
    Application     diskraid.exe                     10.0.17... C:\WINDOWS\system32\diskraid.exe

    Finding custom executables

    To find other non-windows executables (python, ruby, perl, etc), file extensions for those executables need to be added to the PATHEXT environmental variable (defaults to .COM;.EXE;.BAT;.CMD;.VBS;.VBE;.JS;.JSE;.WSF;.WSH;.MSC;.CPL) to identify files with these extensions in the PATH as executable. As Get-Command also honours this variable, it can be extended to list custom executables. e.g.

    $Env:PATHEXT="$Env:PATHEXT;.dll;.ps1;.psm1;.py"     # temporary assignment, only for this shell's process
    gcm user32,kernel32,*WASM*,*http*py
    CommandType     Name                        Version    Source
    -----------     ----                        -------    ------
    ExternalScript  Invoke-WASMProfiler.ps1                C:\WINDOWS\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\Invoke-WASMProfiler.ps1
    Application     http-server.py        C:\Users\ME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WindowsApps\http-server.py
    Application     kernel32.dll                10.0.17... C:\WINDOWS\system32\kernel32.dll
    Application     user32.dll                  10.0.17... C:\WINDOWS\system32\user32.dll

    You can quickly set up an alias with sal which gcm (short form of set-alias which get-command).

    More information and examples can be found under the online help for Get-Command.

    answered Nov 26 '14 at 2:07
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    It finds much more than just executables. It also catches command files – TheIncorrigible1 Nov 30 '18 at 21:43
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    @TheIncorrigible1 - if you mean command files such as batch files (.BAT, .CMD, etc), they are considered executable because their extensions are named in the PATHEXT variable (which by default is PATHEXT=.COM;.EXE;.BAT;.CMD;.VBS;.VBE;.JS;.JSE;.WSF;.WSH;.MSC;.CPL). Other executable types (e.g. .py, .rb, etc) can be added by adding the file extension in and creating an executable association with assoc/ftype - e.g. docs.python.org/3.3/using/… – shalomb Jan 6 '19 at 21:19
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    In Windows PowerShell:

    set-alias which where.exe
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    If you have PowerShell installed (which I recommend), you can use the following command as a rough equivalent (substitute programName for your executable's name):

    ($Env:Path).Split(";") | Get-ChildItem -filter programName*

    More is here: My Manwich! PowerShell Which

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    I was looking for this exact pithy powershell command. I had been using where.exe but having to mess around with the error code on top of parsing its output is far inferior to a native powershell solution. Thanks! – scobi Oct 27 '12 at 2:17
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    But ($Env:Path).Split(";") | Get-ChildItem -filter programName* is so easy to type... ;-) – Craig Nov 30 '14 at 8:56
  • This also fails if you have a variable in your path that is normally resolved by the system (aka %JAVA_HOME%). – dragon788 Apr 13 '17 at 15:18
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    The GnuWin32 tools have which, along with a whole slew of other Unix tools.

    answered Nov 20 '08 at 6:44
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    In Windows CMD which calls where:

    $ where php
    C:\Program Files\PHP\php.exe
    answered Apr 1 '16 at 12:02
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    Cygwin is a solution. If you don't mind using a third-party solution, then Cygwin is the way to go.

    Cygwin gives you the comfort of *nix in the Windows environment (and you can use it in your Windows command shell, or use a *nix shell of your choice). It gives you a whole host of *nix commands (like which) for Windows, and you can just include that directory in your PATH.

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    GnuWin32 mentioned earlier by Ferruccio is much better in this case as you can have native where executable alone. – Piotr Dobrogost Aug 29 '11 at 9:15
  • GnuWin32 is great, and I use it, but if you want this functionality without installing the GnuWin32 tools where.exe seems like the right call. Although, I do put the GnuWin32 tools in a \bin$ share on our network so that I can use them from workstations (and in batch files) that don't have them installed locally. – Craig Nov 30 '14 at 8:57
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    When we talk about Cygwin usage in Windows, I prefer: cygpath -w "`which <appname>`" – mpasko256 Sep 8 '15 at 11:27
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    In PowerShell, it is gcm, which gives formatted information about other commands. If you want to retrieve only path to executable, use .Source.

    For instance: gcm git or (gcm git).Source


    answered Sep 11 '15 at 11:32
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    I have a function in my PowerShell profile named 'which'

    function which {
        get-command $args[0]| format-list

    Here's what the output looks like:

    PS C:\Users\fez> which python
    Name            : python.exe
    CommandType     : Application
    Definition      : C:\Python27\python.exe
    Extension       : .exe
    Path            : C:\Python27\python.exe
    FileVersionInfo : File:             C:\Python27\python.exe
                      Debug:            False
                      Patched:          False
                      PreRelease:       False
                      PrivateBuild:     False
                      SpecialBuild:     False
    answered Jul 31 '15 at 8:59
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    None of the other solutions worked for me but > get-command app.exe | format-list worked perfectly! – Alexander McFarlane Jul 16 '18 at 9:30

    Go get unxutils from here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/unxutils/

    gold on windows platforms, puts all the nice unix utilities on a standard windows DOS. Been using it for years.

    It has a 'which' included. Note that it's case sensitive though.

    NB: to install it explode the zip somewhere and add ...\UnxUtils\usr\local\wbin\ to your system path env variable.

    answered Mar 26 '10 at 0:08
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    it is not case sensitive, also i have to say which java.exe instead of which java - windows 7 – Kalpesh Soni May 22 '13 at 19:46
  • It has a couple of frustrations though having to do with newlines; grep for example won't match EOL without you putting in a . for the \r. It's a 99% solution though for sure! – dash-tom-bang Jul 28 '15 at 20:01
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    If you can find a free Pascal compiler, you can compile this. At least it works and shows the algorithm necessary.

    program Whence (input, output);
      Uses Dos, my_funk;
      Const program_version = '1.00';
            program_date    = '17 March 1994';
      VAR   path_str          : string;
            command_name      : NameStr;
            command_extension : ExtStr;
            command_directory : DirStr;
            search_dir        : DirStr;
            result            : DirStr;
      procedure Check_for (file_name : string);
        { Check existence of the passed parameter. If exists, then state so   }
        { and exit.                                                           }
        if Fsearch(file_name, '') <> '' then
          WriteLn('DOS command = ', Fexpand(file_name));
          Halt(0);    { structured ? whaddayamean structured ? }
      function Get_next_dir : DirStr;
        { Returns the next directory from the path variable, truncating the   }
        { variable every time. Implicit input (but not passed as parameter)   }
        { is, therefore, path_str                                             }
        var  semic_pos : Byte;
          semic_pos := Pos(';', path_str);
          if (semic_pos = 0) then
            Get_next_dir := '';
          result := Copy(Path_str, 1, (semic_pos - 1));  { return result   }
          { Hmm! although *I* never reference a Root drive (my directory tree) }
          { is 1/2 way structured), some network logon software which I run    }
          { does (it adds Z:\ to the path). This means that I have to allow    }
          { path entries with & without a terminating backslash. I'll delete   }
          { anysuch here since I always add one in the main program below.     }
          if (Copy(result, (Length(result)), 1) = '\') then
             Delete(result, Length(result), 1);
          path_str := Copy(path_str,(semic_pos + 1),
                           (length(path_str) - semic_pos));
          Get_next_dir := result;
      end;  { Of function get_next_dir }
      { The following is a kludge which makes the function Get_next_dir easier  }
      { to implement. By appending a semi-colon to the end of the path         }
      { Get_next_dir doesn't need to handle the special case of the last entry }
      { which normally doesn't have a semic afterwards. It may be a kludge,    }
      { but it's a documented kludge (you might even call it a refinement).    }
      path_str := GetEnv('Path') + ';';
      if (paramCount = 0) then
        WriteLn('Whence: V', program_version, ' from ', program_date);
        WriteLn('Usage: WHENCE command[.extension]');
        WriteLn('Whence is a ''find file''type utility witha difference');
        Writeln('There are are already more than enough of those :-)');
        Write  ('Use Whence when you''re not sure where a command which you ');
        WriteLn('want to invoke');
        WriteLn('actually resides.');
        Write  ('If you intend to invoke the command with an extension e.g ');
        Writeln('"my_cmd.exe param"');
        Write  ('then invoke Whence with the same extension e.g ');
        WriteLn('"Whence my_cmd.exe"');
        Write  ('otherwise a simple "Whence my_cmd" will suffice; Whence will ');
        Write  ('then search the current directory and each directory in the ');
        Write  ('for My_cmd.com, then My_cmd.exe and lastly for my_cmd.bat, ');
        Write  ('just as DOS does');
      Fsplit(paramStr(1), command_directory, command_name, command_extension);
      if (command_directory <> '') then
    WriteLn('directory detected *', command_directory, '*');
      if (command_extension <> '') then
        path_str := Fsearch(paramstr(1), '');    { Current directory }
        if   (path_str <> '') then WriteLn('Dos command = "', Fexpand(path_str), '"')
          path_str := Fsearch(paramstr(1), GetEnv('path'));
          if (path_str <> '') then WriteLn('Dos command = "', Fexpand(path_str), '"')
                              else Writeln('command not found in path.');
        { O.K, the way it works, DOS looks for a command firstly in the current  }
        { directory, then in each directory in the Path. If no extension is      }
        { given and several commands of the same name exist, then .COM has       }
        { priority over .EXE, has priority over .BAT                             }
        Check_for(paramstr(1) + '.com');     { won't return if file is found }
        Check_for(paramstr(1) + '.exe');
        Check_for(paramstr(1) + '.bat');
        { Not in current directory, search through path ... }
        search_dir := Get_next_dir;
        while (search_dir <> '') do
           Check_for(search_dir + '\' + paramstr(1) + '.com');
           Check_for(search_dir + '\' + paramstr(1) + '.exe');
           Check_for(search_dir + '\' + paramstr(1) + '.bat');
           search_dir := Get_next_dir;
        WriteLn('DOS command not found: ', paramstr(1));
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    Wow, there are people still using Pascal? :-) – paxdiablo Mar 26 '10 at 1:30
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    I imagine that there are. But not me. Did you see the line program_date = '17 March 1994'; – Mawg says reinstate Monica Mar 26 '10 at 12:12
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    The unit my_funk; is unecessary. Thanks for posting a Pascal program, reminds me of my youth! It is such a pity that Pascal did not evolve. – yannis Aug 27 '15 at 8:41
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    Oh, but it did. It is now object oriented, for instance. There is a great free, cross-platform, implementation and IDE at lazarus-ide.org And a direct descendant of Borland still lives in Delphi at embarcadero.com/products/delphi which is very expensive (imo) at $299 for the starter edition and $1k for the "usable" edition. However, it is cross platform - windows, iOs, Mac, Android. Get a trial edition or use Lazarus and feel 20 years younger ,-) – Mawg says reinstate Monica Aug 27 '15 at 13:36
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    @yannis "such a pity that Pascal did not evolve" ... apart from 'Turbo Pascal' Anders going on to design C# you mean? – piers7 Nov 18 '15 at 8:01
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    Not in stock Windows but it is provided by Services for Unix and there are several simple batch scripts floating around that accomplish the same thing such this this one.

    answered Nov 20 '08 at 4:28
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    Except that the command you link only outputs the PATH variable and does not even check if the file is found there. – Angel O'Sphere Jul 16 '13 at 13:20

    The best version of this I've found on Windows is Joseph Newcomer's "whereis" utility, which is available (with source) from his site.

    The article about the development of "whereis" is worth reading.

    answered Nov 20 '08 at 5:09
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    Late comment: whereis has problems to find 64-bit executables under Win 7 64-bit. – Axel Kemper Jan 16 '16 at 19:50

    None of the Win32 ports of Unix which that I could find on the Internet are satistactory, because they all have one or more of these shortcomings:

    • No support for Windows PATHEXT variable. (Which defines the list of extensions implicitely added to each command before scanning the path, and in which order.) (I use a lot of tcl scripts, and no publicly available which tool could find them.)
    • No support for cmd.exe code pages, which makes them display paths with non-ascii characters incorrectly. (I'm very sensitive to that, with the ç in my first name :-))
    • No support for the distinct search rules in cmd.exe and the PowerShell command line. (No publicly available tool will find .ps1 scripts in a PowerShell window, but not in a cmd window!)

    So I eventually wrote my own which, that suports all the above correctly.

    Available there: http://jf.larvoire.free.fr/progs/which.exe

    answered Dec 18 '14 at 13:29
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    FYI I've open-sourced my which.exe tool mentioned above, and many others, on github.com/JFLarvoire/SysToolsLib. You may get the latest version there, report issues, etc. – Jean-François Larvoire May 11 '16 at 13:44

    This batch file uses CMD variable handling to find the command that would be executed in the path. Note: that the current directory is always done before the path) and depending on which API call is used other locations are searched before/after the path.

    @echo off
    echo PathFind - Finds the first file in in a path
    echo ======== = ===== === ===== ==== == == = ====
    echo Searching for %1 in %path%
    set a=%~$PATH:1
    If "%a%"=="" (Echo %1 not found) else (echo %1 found at %a%)

    See set /? for help.

    answered Sep 25 '16 at 1:45

    You can first install Git from Downloading Git, and then open Git Bash and type:

    which app-name
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    I am using GOW (GNU on Windows) which is a light version of Cygwin. You can grab it from GitHub here.

    GOW (GNU on Windows) is the lightweight alternative to Cygwin. It uses a convenient Windows installer that installs about 130 extremely useful open source UNIX applications compiled as native win32 binaries. It is designed to be as small as possible, about 10 MB, as opposed to Cygwin which can run well over 100 MB depending upon options. - About Description(Brent R. Matzelle)

    A screenshot of a list of commands included in GOW:

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    I have created tool similar to Ned Batchelder:

    Searching .dll and .exe files in PATH

    While my tool is primarly for searching of various dll versions it shows more info (date, size, version) but it do not use PATHEXT (I hope to update my tool soon).

    answered Nov 20 '08 at 9:39
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    For you Windows XP users (who have no where command built-in), I have written a "where like" command as a rubygem called whichr.

    To install it, install Ruby.


    gem install whichr

    Run it like:

    C:> whichr cmd_here

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    I suspect that you're being downvoted because you're suggesting doing anything on Windows XP. – sebastian-c Jun 11 '18 at 15:35
  • Didn't downvote but installing Ruby to implement a trivial command is a hard sell as well. There is a for loop above that could be put into a batch script. – Gringo Suave Oct 31 '19 at 17:48
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    Does it print the opening lines to the theme song for The Witcher if you run it in verbose mode? ;) – Agi Hammerthief Nov 25 '19 at 12:51
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    TCC and TCC/LE from JPSoft are CMD.EXE replacements that add significant functionality. Relevant to the OP's question, which is a builtin command for TCC family command processors.

    answered Feb 9 '17 at 23:31
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    I have used the which module from npm for quite a while, and it works very well: https://www.npmjs.com/package/which It is a great multi platform alternative.

    Now I switched to the which that comes with Git. Just add to your path the /usr/bin path from Git, which is usually at C:\Program Files\Git\usr\bin\which.exe. The which binary will be at C:\Program Files\Git\usr\bin\which.exe. It is faster and also works as expected.

    answered Jun 1 '18 at 2:02
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    Just have to post this Windows' one liner batch file:

    C:>type wh.cmd
    @for %%f in (%*) do for %%e in (%PATHEXT% .dll .lnk) do for %%b in (%%f%%e) do for %%d in (%PATH%) do if exist %%d\%%b echo %%d\%%b

    A test:

    C:>wh ssh

    Not quite a one-liner if you wrap the code in setlocal enableextensions and endlocal.

    answered Oct 8 '19 at 11:37
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    Would prefer that in multiple lines so I could understand it. ;-) – Gringo Suave Oct 31 '19 at 17:49

    try this

    set a=%~$dir:1
    If "%for%"=="" (Echo %1 not found) else (echo %1 found at %a%)