57

How can I copy a file using DOS commands into a directory structure that may not yet exist? I need to be able to force the creation of the directory path to the target file location if that location doesn't already exist.

For example, there is already a file.txt in this location:

C:\file.txt

And I want to copy it to

C:\example\new\path\to\copy\of\file\file.txt

but at this time

C:\example\

and all the subdirectories may or may not yet exist.

Basically, I am looking for a "copy and create the target path if necessary" command. What would you recommend is the best way to achieve this?

8
  • 1
    Is this question actually about DOS (or MS-DOS), or is it about the command line found in NT based Windows versions (2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, Server)?
    – Bob
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 13:34
  • I meant the DOS-like Windows CLI. What do you recommend is the best way to describe "DOS-like Windows CLI" for the post title?
    – nodmonkey
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 8:11
  • Generally, I would use Windows command line in the title/body, along with the tags windows and command-line (note that cmd.exe is a tag synonym of command-line). The tag ms-dos should be removed; and the tag dos should not be used at all under any circumstances.
    – Bob
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 9:13
  • However, in this case, with the existing/accepted answers being for DOS/MS-DOS, you may as well leave it as-is. For future reference, DOS is/should be interpreted as the operating system(s). While the Windows command line is based on them, there are some notable differences.
    – Bob
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 9:15
  • you can call it the cmd prompt
    – barlop
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 22:49

4 Answers 4

44

Yeah, that's xcopy. Here's what it'll look like:

xcopy file.txt c:\example\new\path\to\copy\of\file\file.txt

XCOPY info at

You might also want to look into ROBOCOPY, in the XP resource kit and standard in Vista, Windows 7, and Server 2008.

robocopy . c:\example\new\path\to\copy\of\file file.txt
3
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    xcopy is fine if you don't need to also rename your file. If you do, unfortunately xcopy will ask you whether the destination is a directory or a filename and there is no command-line switch to specify "it's a file".
    – RomanSt
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 1:59
  • 5
    See the other answer - use a preceding echo f | with xcopy to answer this prompt automatically.
    – mcw
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 20:18
  • 1
    Note that there should be a slash character, ``, on the end of the destination path. Otherwise the command will prompt the user about whether the destination is a dir or a file if it doesn't exist.
    – Lii
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 9:17
24

I tried using something like:

xcopy file.txt c:\example\new\path\to\copy\of\file\file.txt

But it would ask me if it was a file or directory. Since I had that in a batch file with 40000 files, it would be impractical. This solution only solves partially my problem: it creates the directory structure, but it requires user interaction. I found the solution to my problem here:

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4283312/batch-file-asks-for-file-or-folder

Which is basically to add a "*" at the end of the destination file:

xcopy file.txt c:\example\new\path\to\copy\of\file\file.txt*

EDIT: as pointed by @romkyns, it may have undesired results if you have files that have the same name plus something else (like 'file.txt.bak'). In the same thread posted above, another solution that works is piping "echo f" to your command:

echo f | xcopy file.txt c:\example\new\path\to\copy\of\file\file.txt

Where you should substitute the "f" for whatever letter your system uses for file, in case you're using it in another language..

5
  • 1
    Which only works if there is no file.txt.bak in the directory, of course. Still, this might work in some scenarios.
    – RomanSt
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 13:29
  • @romkyns true. a few months after I posted this, I faced myself with the same problem and did the "echo f" solution, it works great as well. Editing my answer...
    – msb
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 20:56
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    With echo f | , you no longer need the trailing *.
    – mcw
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 20:20
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    The second filename is redundant in case that it is the same. "xcopy file.txt c:\example\new\path\to\copy\of\file\" will work as long as the trailing slash in the directory is there (otherwise it asks if either a file or a directory weas meant).
    – FourtyTwo
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 13:51
  • Just use xcopy file.txt "c:\example\new\path\to\copy\of\file\" - it doesn't require interactoion.
    – Qwertiy
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 15:24
4

Whether using copy or xCopy, in order to avoid an error from copy or a prompt from xCopy, test for the existence of the needed folder and create it if necessary:

if not exist "NewPath" MkDir "NewPath"
copy "[path\]file.ext" "NewPath[\NewFileName.ext]"

or combine the commands with && on one command line:

if not exist "NewPath" MkDir "NewPath" && copy "[path\]file.ext" "NewPath[\NewFileName.ext]"

The same thing can be done with move instead of copy. I learned about this technique from a StackOverflow answer about how to do it with move.

3

DOS, wow! Anyway you use the XCOPY command.

2
  • 1
    4 years on: yup. DOS we all still use it even though PowerShell exists..
    – Mr AH
    Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 0:04
  • Its 2021. We have PowerShell 7, brand new Terminal app, WSL2 — and we still use xcopy to do stuff.
    – simon
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 19:27

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