In Linux (Bash), there's a way to use a command as a parameter for another command, using back-ticks:

> echo ===== `time` =====

This would print:

===== The current time is: 12:22:34.68 =====

Is there a way to do this in cmd.exe on WIndows ?


3 Answers 3


Try this:

echo. ===== %time% =====

I know this may not be what you want, because you mentioned command substitution... So this may be it:

for /f "usebackq tokens=*" %i in (`date/time/t`) do @echo.  ===== %i =====

For more details about the usage of usebackq try this command:

for /?
  • 4
    Yep, for /f is what I was looking for. Thanks! On a side note: It's so kludgy and hard to remember (compared to the bash way). I should give up "bat programming" and learn something more productive - PowerShell maybe? Jul 7, 2011 at 20:10
  • @CristianDiaconescu Why not just use Linux? It's a much superior OS to Windows, especially for devs.
    – Jack G
    Jul 18, 2020 at 21:36
  • I am seeing errors that & was unexpected at this time running your commands. OS: windows 10. Are you sure this is the correct way?
    – jdhao
    Feb 20, 2021 at 2:47

In Windows the '( )' operator has a similar behavior as the Bash command substitution.

This Linux script:


echo $my_linux_command=$(ls)
echo $my_alternate_linux_command=`ls`

gives a similar result as Windows PowerShell:

$my_windowsPS_variable = (dir)


and as Windows CMD:

set my_windowsCMD_variable=(dir)
  • 14
    Windows CMD example is wrong. Parens in cmd shell just execute a command in a subshell. The env var is set to "(dir)" and it is executed on the second line (when the env var is surrounded by %) - not really the substitution you want.
    – davidbak
    Mar 2, 2017 at 17:41
  • 4
    this is incorrect for windows cmd.exe behavior
    – JJS
    Jan 7, 2019 at 18:33
  • 1
    This is powershell, whereas the question is about cmd.exe Jul 25, 2019 at 8:37
  • neat trick; it's like passing by reference instead of by value: ie. the value of dir is actually processed/calculated in 2nd line, and the variable is storing the command, not the result of the command; similar to doskey
    – Zimba
    Aug 26, 2021 at 17:39
  • In Windows the '( )' operator has a similar behavior as the Bash command substitution. this is absolutely wrong. Windows isn't a shell like bash, and cmd doesn't work that way. It should be In powershell the '( )' operator...
    – phuclv
    Jul 17, 2022 at 5:22

No, but here is the workaround:

D:\>time /t
08:18 PM

D:\>time /t > time.tmp

D:\>set /p time=<time.tmp

D:\>echo == %time% ==
== 08:18 PM ==

See also: Batch equivalent of Bash backticks.

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