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Windows XP used to set the environment variable Path of a command prompt to <system_PATH><user_PATH>. Perhaps after a software installation, its behavior changed to picking up <system_PATH> only. How do I configure it to pick up <user_PATH> again?

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The above answer by prrao didn't apply because they didn't understand the question. I am noticing the exact same behavior on a VirtualBox WinXP install. I created a new user and went over to it via log out and log in and it worked properly there. But, as soon as I came back to the user account having the problems, it remained broken.

So, at least I ruled out that it was something specific to that actual user profile.

The solution I then finally discovered was what appears to be a size limitation. I trimmed the contents of the user's Path environment variable down to a much smaller size and moved some of it into the system environment variable block and then it started working again. So, I recommend that you try and shorten it up and see if that will make a difference.

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yes, i found the size of the path must be under 1024. –  Candy Chiu Jan 10 '13 at 21:24
    
exactly the problem solved. –  Mifeng Jun 13 '13 at 6:05
  1. Click on Start > Run, type regedit.exe. Navigate to the following branch: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor

  2. In the right-pane, double-click Autorun and put in CD /d <user_PATH>

  3. If Autorun is missing, you need to create one (of type "string") in the above location
    NOTE: In the user path, use backslash (\) as the path separator; eg: C:\Users\[Username]

  4. Open an instance of command prompt. The default start path should have changed back to <user_PATH>

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