In Linux, we can go to the user home by entering the tilde (~) character after cd:

cd ~

How to do the same in Windows?

Each time, I need to type:

cd C:\Document and Settings\freewind

That's too boring.

  • 2
    Consider using cygwin ?
    – Paul R
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 12:29
  • 8
    actually, '~' is the default for 'cd' under most Linux shells, so just 'cd' would suffice to go to your homedir
    – Arnout Engelen
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 12:44
  • @Arnout: See stackoverflow.com/questions/998626/… Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 13:11
  • 4
    The answer is simply "cd ~".. means, you can use the same command in Windows too. But, you shouldn't try this command in CMD because its out-dated now & its development is discontinued by Microsoft. Use "Windows PowerShell" and the same command will work smoothly.
    – user79032
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 4:03
  • 3
    PowerShell ships with Win7+ Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 21:11

9 Answers 9


cd /d "%HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH%" would do it -- but I 'm not sure if you consider it an improvement.

You can also define an alias for the above command:

doskey cdhome=cd /d "%HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH%"

After this, it's simply cdhome.

  • 5
    @Freewind: You gotta love the default Windows shell.
    – Jon
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 12:33
  • 12
    @abatishchev: Good question. This question on SF seems to indicate that %USERPROFILE% is preferable.
    – Jon
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 12:50
  • 5
    You can also use cd~ as the macro name, instead if cdhome.
    – jftuga
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 14:16
  • 4
    @abatishchev: Windows NT accounts can have a "home directory" path attached which is separate from the "profile directory". The profile keeps your settings (Registry), application data, and such. The home directory, on the other hand, is for your own files -- when a program displays the "Open/Save" dialog for the first time, it will start at the home directory. (Windows 95/98 used it somewhat differently; can't remember the specifics.) This is useful in Active Directory environments, for storing files on a network share but keeping the profile local. Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 14:41
  • 3
    @jftuga: Or even ~. Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 14:43

You can use cd /d %USERPROFILE% if you use cmd.

or you can use cd ~ if you use PowerShell.

  • 5
    +1 but also add quotes around the variable (maybe it's c:\documents and settings\..., the spaces will break it unless it's quoted)
    – Jon
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 12:47
  • 9
    @Jon: cd is an exception. Since it always takes a single argument, quoting is not necessary. (On Windows, programs and built-ins must parse their command line themselves, the shell does not do it.) Always quoting paths is a good practice, however. Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 14:45
  • 1
    @barlop: usually CommandLineToArgvW(); the CLR/MinGW/Cygwin runtimes also use their own equivalent automatically before calling main(). Some programs, however, have parsers written entirely from scratch, for example, cmd.exe itself and its wacky /c. Commented Nov 8, 2011 at 23:18
  • 1
    @barlop: Not if you're trying to use quotes (or redirection) as part of the given command. Is it /c "C:\foo bar\baz" "my file.txt" or /c "\"C:\foo bar\baz\" \"my file.txt\"" or /c ""C:\foo bar\baz" "my file.txt""? What's even worse is that the parsing depends on whether /s was specified earlier, the presence of special characters, whether the executable is named C:\foo bar\baz or just C:\foo... Commented Nov 11, 2011 at 10:47
  • 1
    @TheLQ A batch script is even easier still. I can accomplish the same result by typing a single character. See my answer below for a description.
    – weberc2
    Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 21:05

One possibility is to use the subst command from a command prompt:

subst z: C:\Document and Settings\freewind

Any time you navigate to drive Z:, you'll be looking at your user folder.

The downside is that you need to run it every time you log in. I used a batch file and just put it in my startup folder, but there are probably more elegant solutions to this.

The benefit is that unlike a doskey alias, it works universally (windows explorer, browse dialog, etc.), not just when changing directories at the command prompt. It's especially helpful for old programs with old browse dialogs that have drive letters at the topmost level, rather than "desktop".

  • You can map a drive and make it automatically remap after login. No need to use subst
    – phuclv
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 8:32
  • 1
    @LưuVĩnhPhúc It may not be entirely logical, but I tend to avoid windows network share things unless I really have to use them. I feel like performance and reliability is... unpredictable? By all means if you have an alternative, nay better, way of doing it, please post it in its own answer for the benefit of everyone :)
    – mo.
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 13:38
  • No need for more software utilities. Mapping is the most efficient option.
    – Full Array
    Commented Jan 3 at 3:25

You can do this:

cd %homepath%
  • 5
    This will break if you're on a different drive - e.g. you're on E: and your homedir is on C: Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 13:40

You can create a batch file called ~.bat containing

@echo off

And add it to your PATH variable (Start->[right-click on "Computer"]->Properties->"Advanced System Settings"[in left column]->"Environment Variables"

From there, just edit your PATH variable to include the folder containing your ~.bat file. (This allows you to invoke your script from anywhere using just the filename--not the absolute path to the file)

Also, make sure your PATHEXT environment variable contains .BAT somewhere (this allows you to type ~ instead of ~.bat).

When you need to use it, simply enter ~ at the command prompt. This solution is persistent--you won't have to set it up every time you launch a shell, and you won't need to hack your registry.


Unfortunately, I'm unaware of a perfect solution but there are a couple of hacky options:

Option 1: Set ~ to be a command alias with doskey

doskey ~=cd /d %USERPROFILE%

This will enable you to simply type ~ and have it chdir to your homedir.


Obviously, this shortens the number of keystrokes to get home (even compared to Linux), but is less robust since you can't really use it as part of another path or do much with it beyond just cd'ing home.

Option 2: Set ~ to be a variable

Another option, if you want a more robust option is to set a var:


but using this would be used like:

E:\>cd /d %~%

It can also be injected into most paths and doesn't limit you to simply cd'ing home.

Both options simultaneously

Also, you can implement both methods simultaneously. If you have the %'s around it, then it's going to utilize the variable - otherwise it will treat ~ as a command.

C:\>:: ECHO (display) THE VALUE OF %~%
C:\>echo %~%

C:\>:: ChDir to ~\DESKTOP
C:\>cd /d %~%\Desktop

C:\Users\a\Desktop>:: USE THE ~ COMMAND


One other tip (kinda related):

This is less likely to be acceptable on a corporate machine, at least on your home PC, to save additional keystrokes, it's not a bad idea to make your %USERPROFILE% dir a simple name. As you can see from my examples above, my user dir is C:\Users\a - I used to always have 'aplocher' or 'adamp' and when I changed to a single letter, it was magical.


In Powershell the %variable% syntax does not work. You can do this :

  • 3
    You can use cd ~ in PowerShell.
    – wjandrea
    Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 5:01

In cmd.exe, you can make ~ work just like ~ in Unix systems with help of clink and its Lua scripts:

  1. Install latest version of clink.
  2. Download tilde_autoexpand.lua and place it in some directory, let's say:
  1. Install scripts from that directory with:
clink installscripts C:\clink\Scripts\tilde-autoexpansion
  1. Run clink set tilde.autoexpand true to enable it.

After that, ~ should automatically expand to home directory. Test it with e.g. cd ~. Restart cmd to reload clink if it doesn't.

Also note that by default to type regular tilde you need to use ~~. You can change this with tilde.escape setting.


Using PowerShell, you have two options.

  1. (Option 1) You may try the following method to navigate directories from anywhere provided you know your username and have file directory permissions granted.
cd \..\Users\yourUserName\Documents
cd \..\Users\yourUserName\Downloads
cd \..\Users\yourUserName\Desktop
cd \..\Users\yourUserName\music

See example below in PowerShell (64bit). I tested this on a Windows 7 Pro 64bit box.

Linux Lilde equivalent on Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit

  1. (Option 2) You can use the tilde character in powershell.
cd ~

Alternatively, you may install unix-like distribution emulators for Windows such as cygwin, so you get unix-like environment functionality while using command prompt (CMD) on a Windows OS.

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