Coming from Mac OS X, you can type:

open yourfilehere.txt

and your file will open just as if you had opened it from Finder.

On Windows, I'd like to be able to open files in the same manner. What's the command?

5 Answers 5


Just drop the 'open' and you're set.

Enter the filename and it will open with the appropriate program.

You'll need to consider the path to the file, so executing the above would only work if the file is within the current directory.

  • 2
    I think this answer assumes cmd.exe and won't work if you use a different shell like bash or zsh. I ended up using start, as suggested in other answers.
    – Nickolay
    Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 17:24

In addition to the easy way that Luke pointed out, there's also the start command:

> start yourfilehere.txt

but watch out, if your filename has spaces in it, you'll need to do this:

> start "" "your file here.txt" 

While just typing the name is shorter, the start command jweede points out is better if you want to open a directory in Explorer instead (like open directoryName opens a folder in finder on OSX).

I use "start ." all the time.

However, you don't need the extra syntax he showed. Just start fileName works fine. The first "" is for the title, which is optional anyway.

  • sometimes this is needed for when filenames have spaces in them
    – jweede
    Commented Sep 10, 2009 at 13:13
  • 1
    The second set of quotes might be needed, but the first ones aren't. So you might do: <code>start "directory name contains spaces"</code>, but you don't need: <code>start "" "directory name contains spaces"</code>.
    – Jordan
    Commented Sep 10, 2009 at 13:35
  • 1
    D'oh! Nevermind, looks like I'm wrong. I see what you mean.
    – Jordan
    Commented Sep 10, 2009 at 13:38

% rundll32 url.dll,FileProtocolHandler xyz.bar

why not use "start /c" as mentioned above? because if the xyz.bar is missing the executable flag, you will get something like "access denied". this is also true for one of the answers to 'just drop the "open" term and the shell will handle the rest'

and as i learned right now, 'cygstart' does an excellent job on cygwin as well (see Linux equivalent command for "open" command on Mac/Windows?)

  • cygstart is excellent. I usually just make an alias for it to open. So I can simply open x just like I'm used to on the mac.
    – jweede
    Commented Mar 26, 2010 at 14:06

A few more options to consider.

  1. if you know the name of the application that you want to open the file with you can append the program name before the file: eg. "notepad yourfilehere.txt" or "wordpad yourfilehere.txt". As mentioned above you must be in the files directory for this to work, alternatively eg. "notepad C:\PathTo\YourFile\yourfilehere.txt" and the program that you're trying to launch must be a system application or be added to the PATH system variable
  2. you could use an application launcher program. This technically isn't going to let you open a file from a command line but programs such as Launchy Colibri and FARR enable you to access the programs that open the files much more easily.
  • Launchy makes windows life much more bearable.
    – jweede
    Commented Sep 10, 2009 at 13:16

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