I need to use shortened path names for an application that I am using. For example I need C:\PROGRA~1\ as opposed to C:\Program Files. The program can't handle spaces and won't accept quoted paths (e.g. "C:\Program Files").

If it helps, I am using Windows 7. I can get access to any version since XP, if necessary.

10 Answers 10


Start, and type cmd in the run box. Start cmd, and use cd to get to the folder you are interested in:

cd \


dir /x

C:\>dir /x

13/10/2011  09:14 AM    <DIR>          DOCUME~1     Documents and Settings
13/10/2011  09:05 AM    <DIR>          PROGRA~1     Program Files
  • So you do this for every subfolder in the path? – endolith May 6 '15 at 18:19
  • @endolith The /s switch does subfolder recursion – Paul May 6 '15 at 21:43
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    I mean how do you display the entire 8.3 path? – endolith Jan 23 '17 at 16:04
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    @Paul This doesn't seem to work in Win10. Any ideas? – AHungerArtist Apr 17 '17 at 3:23
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    @AHungerArtist The short file names don't necessarily exist; their creation can be turned off. – Hipponax43 May 22 '17 at 9:51

Create a bat file in some convenient directory then you could copy+paste the short path from that path.

You could just run command.com and keep doing cd commands to your current directory too.

In Windows batch scripts, %~s1 expands path parameters to short names. Create this batch file:

echo %~s1

I called mine shortNamePath.cmd and call it like this:

C:\> shortNamePath "c:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk"

Here's a version that uses the current directory if no parameter was supplied:

if '%1'=='' (%0 .) else echo %~s1

Called without parameters:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk> shortNamePath

Using SET and a named variable

Windows Command Prompt has some conventions for handling variables with spaces in their values that are somewhat hard to learn and understand, especially if you have a Unix background.  You can do

SET TESTPATH=c:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk

(with no quotes), or

SET "TESTPATH=c:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk"

(note the non-intuitive placement of quotes); then

CALL :testargs "%TESTPATH%"

echo %~s1
goto :eof
  • 6
    Really useful, should be marked as answer! – lucaferrario Feb 19 '15 at 11:03
  • Thanks! Is it do-able using a SET command ? like SET AAA=C:\program files\what ever\another space in the middle\ to the short version – Li3ro May 20 '15 at 13:41
  • @Li3ro I couldn't figure out SET variable command way but I got pretty close, you can see it at the bottom of the answer just needs a little fix up. I'm not into batch script programming so I don't know how. – SSpoke May 26 '15 at 20:29
  • It is not doable this way. you need the for loop for this – Li3ro May 27 '15 at 4:18
  • This is more useful than the accepted answer – EvilTeach Mar 10 '17 at 17:57

The "short name" is really the old DOS 8.3 naming convention, so all the directories will be the first 6 letters followed by ~1 assuming there is only one name that matches, for example:

C:\BCDEFG~1 - C:\BCDEFGHIJKL M Another Directory

here is the only exception

C:\ABCDEF~2 - C:\ABCDEFGHI Directory as well

  • 4
    Not true. Sometimes fewer characters are used, particularly if you are using asian characters, such as Korean. – Arafangion Sep 5 '13 at 2:04
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    I suppose finding out which one is which in the "exceptional" case is the point of the question - especially as the "exception" regularly occurs in every Windows 64 bit installation, where you may need to know which one out of Program Files and Program Files (x86) is PROGRA~1 and which one is PROGRA~2. Paul's answer solves that issue. – O. R. Mapper Feb 1 '14 at 12:00
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    I have so many files that start with the same characters that after four of them (...~4) it started with what looks like hashing, e.g. ABxxxx~1 where x was hexadecimal -- which isn't very easy to read. – Sirap Nov 21 '14 at 23:07
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    Are you suggesting that the user can figure out the short names logically by looking at the long names? That’s not true.  If I create ABCDEFGH-CAT, it gets short name ABCDEF~1. If I then create ABCDEFGH-DOG, it gets short name ABCDEF~2. If I then delete ABCDEFGH-CAT, ABCDEFGH-DOG, still has short name ABCDEF~2. There’s no way to tell just by looking at the long names. – Scott May 28 '18 at 19:32

Here is a one liner:

cmd /c for %A in ("C:\Program Files") do @echo %~sA


cmd /c - Starts a new instance of the Windows command interpreter, carries out the command specified by string and then terminates

for %%parameter in (set) do command - Conditionally perform a command several times.

echo - Display messages on screen. @ symbol is the same as ECHO OFF applied to the current line only.

%~s - Expanded path contains short names only.


  • 1
    Nice!!! You can replace "C:\Program Files" with . to get the short name for the current directory – Andrew Steitz Sep 18 '17 at 17:22
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    When / why would you need the cmd /c?  If you’re in a Command Prompt window, you can just type the for %A in ("C:\Program Files") do @echo %~sA command, and if you type this into the “Run” dialog box, the result disappears before you can read it. – Scott May 28 '18 at 19:21
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    Nicely done; as @Scott points out, you don't need the cmd /c when running from cmd; you do need it from PowerShell, but then you also need to '...'-enclose the tokens after /c: cmd /c 'for %f in ("C:\Program Files") do @echo %~sf' – mklement0 Feb 14 at 15:49

I found very handy way to solve short pathname of current directory (or anything else) if you have Powershell installed.

Just open powershell in current dir

  • in cmd windows type powershell

  • if you have folder open in gui you can type cmd.exe or powershell.exe directly in address bar of folder.

Then give command

(New-Object -ComObject Scripting.FileSystemObject).GetFolder(".").ShortPath

Origin of information: [https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/scriptcenter/Get-ShortName-90a49303]


Similar to Ivan Schwartz's answer, you can replace "C:\Program Files" with %cd% to get current dir:

cmd /c for %A in ("%cd%") do @echo %~sA  

I have installed node modules by running npm install on a boilerplate. While trying to delete those folders, windows does not allow us to delete them as path is too long to be able to handle.

After some of shallow research, I thought it would be right my own piece of code snippet to rename the folders from root to leaf so that it would throw any violation exception for this attempt as well.

It works for me. Following is the code for c# project.

    public static int directoryCounterIndex = 0;
    public static void Main(string[] args)
        string dirPath = @"D:\Studies\MeanStack\a\nodem";

    private static void RenameDirectories(string dirPath)
        directoryCounterIndex += 1;
        var newPath = Path.GetDirectoryName(dirPath) + Path.DirectorySeparatorChar + directoryCounterIndex.ToString();
        Directory.Move(dirPath, newPath);
        var subDirectories = Directory.GetDirectories(newPath);
        foreach (var subDirectory in subDirectories)
  • 1
    Please read the question again carefully. Your answer does not answer the original question. – DavidPostill Nov 6 '16 at 14:17

Alternatively, you could use this awesome little tool called PathCopyCopy

In a few clicks, you can get the long and short path of literally any folder from the contextual menu, e.g:

Right-click in the destination folder => Path Copy => Short Path.

Done. It will be copied to your clipboard.



C:\Users\abcd>subst z: "c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office365 Tools\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0"

C:\Users\abcd>subst Z:: => C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office365 Tools\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0" This is the easiest way I have used when dealing with files with spaces and this is accessible from file explorer too has all the same access privileges.


Just replace the spaces with


It's the way things are "translated", and spaces go into %20.

If you really need alot, simply pop open your browser and type something like

test ";($#< and find the word test, and see that the space is %20 and so on...
  • I don't think you're right. This does not produce a positive outcome: if exist C:\Program%20Files\ (echo exists) – kayleeFrye_onDeck Sep 26 '16 at 20:51
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    You're talking about something completely different. The main point is that directory and file names are truncated to 8 characters. The browser has nothing to do with that. – Dawid Ferenczy Rogožan Feb 21 '17 at 10:26

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