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When I press TAB key in command window, the tab character (spacing) is inserted instead of iterating trough items in current directory. How can I make it work this other way (autocompletion)?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

It looks like completion may be disabled in the Registry.

There's an explanation below, from the output of cmd /?:

File and Directory name completion is NOT enabled by default. You can enable or disable file name completion for a particular invocation of CMD.EXE with the /F:ON or /F:OFF switch.
You can enable or disable completion for all invocations of CMD.EXE on a machine and/or user logon session by setting either or both of the following REG_DWORD values in the registry using REGEDT32.EXE (actually, just regedit.exe would be fine):

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\CompletionChar
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\PathCompletionChar


HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\CompletionChar
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\PathCompletionChar with the hex value of a control character to use for a particular function (e.g.  0x4 is Ctrl-D and 0x6 is Ctrl-F).  The user specific settings take precedence over the machine settings.  The command line switches take precedence over the registry settings.

If completion is enabled with the /F:ON switch, the two control characters used are Ctrl-D for directory name completion and Ctrl-F for file name completion.
To disable a particular completion character in the registry, use the value for space (0x20) as it is not a valid control character.

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You can also set both of these options using TweakUI: – Stephen Jennings Mar 18 '10 at 12:55
Thank you both :) – JohnM2 Mar 18 '10 at 13:47
@njd, Why do you say that it's not enabled by default? It seems to be enabled by default for me (Win 8.1). – Pacerier Jan 23 '15 at 15:29
@Pacerier It's not enabled by default in Windows XP, which is the version the OP was asking about. Also I wrote that in 2010 and Windows 8 didn't get released until 2012. – njd Jan 23 '15 at 17:28
@njd, Anyway, another oddity: Ctrl-F and Ctrl-D both cycles through files and folders. Basically they do the same thing, is that the behavior you have on win8.1 too? – Pacerier Aug 25 '15 at 13:45

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