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I have a system PATH variable with the system level config. I use the user PATH variable to complement the PATH with user-specific config.

I would like to update the user PATH variable from command-line for example with setx.

But I don't know how to reference the existing user path in setx.

In the following command (setx without /M)

setx PATH c:\my-user-specifc-bin-path;%PATH%

the first PATH means user PATH but the second %PATH% will be substituted by the "full" (user + system) PATH.

So it means that the entire system path would be duplicated in the user PATH... what is definitively not what I want.

I would like to:

  • Affect only the user PATH environment variable
  • Append/Prepend one or more path element to the existing value
  • Do it from the command-line.
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Seems to me that when you use ;%PATH% you're asking for the existing path (derived from the system path) to be appended. – Daniel R Hicks May 28 '13 at 22:35
up vote 4 down vote accepted

To set the User PATH overwriting any previous value:

setx PATH "C:\MyPath1"

To prepend a value "C:\MyPath0" to the existing User PATH:

for /f "skip=2 tokens=3*" %a in ('reg query HKCU\Environment /v PATH') do @if [%b]==[] ( @setx PATH "C:\MyPath0;%~a" ) else ( @setx PATH "C:\MyPath0;%~a %~b" )

To append a value "C:\MyPath2" to the existing User PATH:

for /f "skip=2 tokens=3*" %a in ('reg query HKCU\Environment /v PATH') do @if [%b]==[] ( @setx PATH "%~a;C:\MyPath2" ) else ( @setx PATH "%~a %~b;C:\MyPath2" )

The if-else condition is required because the User PATH may or may not contain spaces. If you want you can save the commands as generic batch files (be sure to double each % sign) that accept the value to be set/prepended/appended as an argument.

Batch File

:: PATH-ADD - add a path to user path environment variable

@echo off

:: set user path
set ok=0
for /f "skip=2 tokens=3*" %%a in ('reg query HKCU\Environment /v PATH') do if [%%b]==[] ( setx PATH "%%~a;%1" && set ok=1 ) else ( setx PATH "%%~a %%~b;%1" && set ok=1 )
if "%ok%" == "0" setx PATH "%1"

share|improve this answer
The answer is very detailed, but I don't see how it answer the questions. To keep it short, the question is "How could I Update the User PATH from command-line"... but I will edit the question to make it clearer. Sorry if it was not. – Christian Lemer May 29 '13 at 6:00
@Chris: Your edit clarifies what you really want to achieve, so I have updated my answer accordingly. – Karan May 30 '13 at 14:00
more explanation needed. what is %a, what is %b? – KJK Nov 1 '14 at 2:40
Unfortunately it doesn't work if the user PATH is not already defined :( – nowox Jan 13 '15 at 7:35
@KJK: for /? will tell you all you need to know. :) I didn't want to replicate it all here unnecessarily and thought that info would be easy to figure out anyway. – Karan Apr 5 '15 at 2:53

need SETX /M, default SETX set to HKEY_CURRENT_USER

SETX /M PATH c:\my-bin-path;%PATH%
share|improve this answer
This affect the system PATH variable... maybe my example was misleanding, but I wold like to update the user PATH variable specifically. – Christian Lemer May 28 '13 at 21:40
@Chris – STTR May 28 '13 at 22:23

This seems to work:

setx PATH "c:\my-user-specifc-bin-path-which-may-contain-spaces;"%%PATH%%
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