I want to set an environment variable from the command prompt and then be able to access it globally (for instance, I should see it by going to System -> Environment Variables).

When I use the set command, it isn't accessible in a new cmd session.

echo %NEWVAR%

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5 Answers 5


To make the environment variable accessible globally you need to set it in the registry. As you've realised by just using:


you are just setting it in the current process space.

According to this page you can use the setx command:


setx is built into Windows 7, but for older versions may only be available if you install the Windows Resource Kit

  • 9
    Note that you need to specify quota, for example : setx JAVA_HOME "C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.7.0_45" will work. But setx JAVA_HOME C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.7.0_45 will give you syntax errors Oct 22, 2015 at 9:00
  • 13
    @MD.MohiuddinAhmed That's because there are spaces in the path.
    – ChrisF
    Oct 22, 2015 at 9:15
  • 3
    this can damage your path because of a 1024 character limit! - see superuser.com/questions/387619/…
    – dkocich
    Apr 15, 2020 at 20:20
  • 1
    You can check the command result by using echo %NEWVAR%. Current cmd will cache the Environment Variables so closing the current cmd and opening a new one will be required to see the changes done. Jul 3, 2020 at 16:16
  • 2
    And for Windows Terminal, you currently (nov 2020) need to close all instances and restart.
    – Sire
    Nov 19, 2020 at 11:52

We can also use "setx var variable /M" to set the var to system environment variable level instead of user level.

Note: This command should be run as administrator.


You can use setx env var [/M] as mentioned above. If it doesn't take effect you can use refreshenv to refresh environment variables. You don't have to restart your computer, explorer.exe or your command prompt to do that.

Edit: apparantly refreshenv doesn't come naturally with Windows, so here's the source: https://pastebin.com/1fJqA0pT
Save as RefreshEnv.cmd and place it in a folder that's included in your PATH environment variables

  • 6
    +1 for mentioning 'refreshenv' - I'd never come across that before! Mar 1, 2019 at 15:27

System variables can be set through CMD and registry For ex. reg query "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Environment" /v PATH

All the commonly used CMD codes and system variables are given here: Set Windows system environment variables using CMD.

Open CMD and type Set

You will get all the values of system variable.

Type set java to know the path details of java installed on your window OS.

  • Please read the question again carefully. Your answer does not answer the original question.
    – DavidPostill
    Mar 9, 2017 at 13:39
  • It's close, though. Using REG ADD may accomplish this?
    – TOOGAM
    Mar 10, 2017 at 9:05

I want to add that if you are using the /s parameter with setx in order to set environment variables on a remote computer, the "Remote Registry" service needs to be running on the target machine or else you will receive a "ERROR: The specified operation could not be completed."

(I have asked Microsoft to update their TechNet article on setx to include this information.)

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