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This is a very basic question, but I can't find an answer. I want to set an environment variable from the command prompt and then be able to access it globally (for instance, I should see it by going to system -> environment variables).

When I use the set command, it isn't accessible in a new cmd session.

echo %NEWVAR%

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2 Answers 2

up vote 84 down vote accepted

To make the environment variable accessible globally you need to set it in the registry. As you've realised by just using:


you are just setting it in the current process space.

According to this page you can use the setx command:


setx is built into Windows 7, but for older versions may only be available if you install the Windows Resource Kit

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It turns out that setx is also built into windows 7. – Shane Mar 25 '10 at 11:30
Note that you need to specify quota, for example : setx JAVA_HOME "C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.7.0_45" will work. But setx JAVA_HOME C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.7.0_45 will give you syntax errors – MD. Mohiuddin Ahmed Oct 22 at 9:00
@MD.MohiuddinAhmed That's because there are spaces in the path. – ChrisF Oct 22 at 9:15
Oops! I didn't notice that! ... Still good point to note :) Thanks @ChrisF ! – MD. Mohiuddin Ahmed Oct 22 at 15:14

We can also use "setx var variable /M" to set the var to system environment variable level instead of user level

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