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%

Related questions:


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 '15 at 9:00
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    @MD.MohiuddinAhmed That's because there are spaces in the path.
    – ChrisF
    Oct 22 '15 at 9:15
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    this can damage your path because of a 1024 character limit! - see superuser.com/questions/387619/…
    – dkocich
    Apr 15 '20 at 20:20
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    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 '20 at 16:16
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    And for Windows Terminal, you currently (nov 2020) need to close all instances and restart.
    – Sire
    Nov 19 '20 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.

setx program "C:\Program Files" /M

/M for set system environment variable level instead of user level like @Minh Chau answer

Test enter image description here

RESTART command line (if you don't restart command line, environment variable will not work)

enter image description here

  • This duplicates another answer and adds no new content. Please don't post an answer unless you actually have something new to contribute.
    – DavidPostill
    Feb 9 '17 at 10:23
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    @DavidPostill my answer have a new is we need restart command line. I think it is important
    – Linh
    Feb 9 '17 at 13:14

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

  • 3
    +1 for mentioning 'refreshenv' - I'd never come across that before! Mar 1 '19 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 '17 at 13:39
  • It's close, though. Using REG ADD may accomplish this?
    – TOOGAM
    Mar 10 '17 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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