Can I launch URLs directly from the command line in Windows?

  • I always thought iexplore www.google.com would work i'm sure i've done it in the past loads of times, but it didn't. So, stick c:\program files\internet explorer, in the path and it will. Personally I make another environment variable for long boring stuff like MOREPATH="c:\program files\internet explorer". Then path=.......;%MOREPATH% That's in control panel..system..environment variables. now iexplore www.google.com will damn well work!
    – barlop
    May 22 '11 at 17:38

Yes, with the start command. Example:

start http://www.google.com

That will use the user's default browser.
As stated by Joey, you should use a different format for URLs with special chars:

start "" "http://www.google.com"
  • 49
    Remember to use start "" "some://url?with=special&chars=:->" otherwise things will break.
    – Joey
    Sep 6 '09 at 7:22
  • Nice, another nice feature for this solution is that you can also do start www.google.com but I admit it will not always work.
    – рüффп
    Jun 2 '15 at 7:00
  • 3
    I need to remove the quotes, otherwise it opens a new CMD.
    – daVe
    May 26 '17 at 8:53
  • 2
    @daVe you need an empty quote pair like Joey said if the url is quoted
    – phuclv
    Jun 4 '18 at 15:00
  • 1
    @Joey When the comment is more useful than the answer...
    – jpmc26
    Nov 9 '18 at 21:28

you can use

start http://www.google.com

Interestingly only following combination are working for above url :

start www.google.com
start http://google.com
start http://blog.google.com

But following is not working :

start google.com
start asp.net
start blog.google.com

I think it is because in the later example google.com and asp.net are treated as files and it tries to find google.com file and gives error on not finding it.

I think it is hardcoded for www. Any better guesses ?

  • It's probably because start works for several applications (not only websites). providing at least www or http:// the start command links your URI to the HTTP protocol, while it could probably run other protocols.
    – Jeff Noel
    Aug 7 '14 at 18:22

What's "launch" in this context? You can start http://www.foo.bar/ or the like, your default browser will come up and visit that URL -- is that what you mean?


You could use explorer <url> which will use your default browser.

  • @ekaj Your right :/ First time i tried it it didn't work - for some reason it now worked ... comment deleted
    – DavidPostill
    Nov 24 '14 at 20:04
  • Windows Server 2016: First time it displays a prompt asking you to choose a default browser, with a checkbox asking "Always use this app".
    – mozey
    Nov 18 '20 at 11:22

Here's a cheap approach that will work on XP at least:

"%PROGRAMFILES%\Internet Explorer\IExplore" "http://www.msn.com"
  • 15
    Ouch... and msn.com no less.
    – harpo
    Sep 6 '09 at 5:09
  • first thing that came to mind...for no apparent reason whatsoever Sep 6 '09 at 6:38
  • Cheap in what sense?
    – Kazark
    Aug 7 '14 at 18:19
  • 1
    @Kazark: cheap in that it opens up the URL in Internet Explorer as opposed to whatever the default browser happens to be. Aug 11 '14 at 11:44

you can run this below command and it will redirect to google chrome browser

C:\>start 'http://www.google.com'

You can use this in Powershell:

Start-Process "URL"

From C# code you could just run this (cmd-start equivalent):


You've launched your url from a command-line directly (i.e. without running another program first).

  • Is this C#? This does not work for me on Windows 7 using cmd.exe.
    – iglvzx
    Jun 6 '12 at 19:06
  • 2
    Tried this in PowerShell and it didn't work. Must be C#. Does this really answer the question?
    – Kazark
    Aug 7 '14 at 17:56
  • 2
    This is not CMD syntax, nor does it seem to be valid Powershell. I could remove my downvote if the poster updated his answer with details.
    – oligofren
    Jan 5 '17 at 12:10