When I typed %^ in cmd and pressed Enter, and it said:


When I pressed Enter again, it gave the same response.

Is this an Easter Egg? What is this?

  • 13
    You should have pressed enter one more time, and then googled "cmd carat" instead :)
    – panhandel
    May 20, 2015 at 14:56
  • 6
    type "ip^" [enter] "config" [enter]... without the qoutes. now you understand what ^ does.
    – n00b
    May 21, 2015 at 15:11
  • 8
    What about this behavior makes you think that it's an easter egg?
    – jamesdlin
    May 21, 2015 at 16:48
  • 1
    I am guessing because More is different enough from what you would normally expect. (Normally you would think it would just say invalid/) May 24, 2015 at 2:47

3 Answers 3


CMD is line based. It only reads and executes one line at a time. When you are typing and you haven't finished a line it prompts with More?.

Your specific thing is there is no line ending so it's waiting to see what comes after the % sign.

It's easier to see using brackets

Try dir


echo %time%
(type c:\windows\win.ini

Only when the line is complete (matching brackets) is it read and executed.

Here's a list of punctuation.

&    separates commands on a line.

&&    executes this command only if previous command's errorlevel is 0.

||    (not used above) executes this command only if previous command's errorlevel is NOT 0

>    output to a file

>>    append output to a file

<    input from a file

|    output of one command into the input of another command

^    escapes any of the above, including itself, if needed to be passed to a program

"    parameters with spaces must be enclosed in quotes

+ used with copy to concatenate files. E.G. copy file1+file2 newfile

, used with copy to indicate missing parameters. This updates the files modified date. E.G. copy /b file1,,

%variablename% a inbuilt or user set environmental variable

!variablename! a user set environmental variable expanded at execution time, turned with SelLocal EnableDelayedExpansion command

%<number> (%1) the nth command line parameter passed to a batch file. %0 is the batch file's name.

%* (%*) the entire command line.

%<a letter> or %%<a letter> (%A or %%A) the variable in a for loop. Single % sign at command prompt and double % sign in a batch file.

\\ (\\servername\sharename\folder\file.ext) access files and folders via UNC naming.

: (win.ini:streamname) accesses an alternative steam. Also separates drive from rest of path.

. (win.ini) the LAST dot in a file path separates the name from extension

. (dir .\*.txt) the current directory

.. (cd ..) the parent directory

\\?\ (\\?\c:\windows\win.ini) When a file path is prefixed with \\?\ filename checks are turned off. 

< > : " / \ | Reserved characters. May not be used in filenames.

Reserved names. These refer to devices eg, 

copy con <filename> 

which copies a file to the console window.


COM5, COM6, COM7, COM8, COM9, LPT1, LPT2, 

LPT3, LPT4, LPT5, LPT6, LPT7, LPT8, and LPT9

Maximum path length              260 characters
Maximum path length (\\?\)      32,767 characters (approx - some rare characters use 2 characters of storage)
Maximum filename length        255 characters

  • 4
    Where did you find this list of punctuation?
    – Steven
    May 21, 2015 at 16:16
  • 7
    I wrote it myself. References are MSDos 6.22 Help File, Windows Vista command help (ie dir /?), and Windows Software Developent Kit.
    – trigger
    May 21, 2015 at 20:56
  • 1
    Plus MS used to have this up for free download, appears no more. Chapter 2 from Windows NT Shell Scripting, published by MacMillan Technical Publishing (I've put it up on my skydrive at skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=E2F0CE17A268A4FA!121)
    – trigger
    May 21, 2015 at 21:43
  • '(' and ')' are parentheses; brackets are usually considered '[]' (square brackets) or '<>' (angle brackets). May 22, 2015 at 14:50
  • 8
    @toddkaufmann "Brackets" can also refer to ( and ). It's a common use of the word outside of the US, see englishclub.com/writing/punctuation-round-brackets.htm for instance.
    – hvd
    May 23, 2015 at 10:04


Microsoft formally stopped including Easter eggs in its programs as part of its Trustworthy Computing Initiative in 2002.

Larry Osterman at Microsoft noted in October 2005 that adding an Easter Egg is grounds for termination.

Nowadays, adding an easter egg to a Microsoft OS is immediate grounds for termination, so it's highly unlikely you'll ever see another.
Or: MSDN blog Archive

The command prompt is looking for a continuation (More?) of the command, since it ended with the escape character ^.

The ^ escape character can be used to make long commands more readable by splitting them into multiple lines and escaping the Carriage Return

  • 31
    They got rid of all future easter eggs to increase trustworthiness? How do they suppose that works out? May 20, 2015 at 17:59
  • 29
    @Panzercrisis Why No Easter Eggs? blogs.msdn.com/b/larryosterman/archive/2005/10/21/483608.aspx
    – Steven
    May 20, 2015 at 18:08
  • 12
    Why does it prompt More? a second time if you don't put anything in response to the first one?
    – Random832
    May 20, 2015 at 18:25
  • 2
    @AlecTeal Yes, but to do that I have to keep putting ^ at the end of each line. If I type something (with no ^) to the first More? prompt, it executes immediately, but if I just enter, it prompts More? again. EDIT: I've done some further testing with echo which reveals that entering a blank line at the More? prompt puts a literal CR/LF in the command line. Don't know why I didn't run into that yesterday.
    – Random832
    May 21, 2015 at 12:13
  • 2
    Its Trustworthy Computing Initiative prevented undocumented behaviors, but they never prevented documented easter eggs ;) Jun 21, 2015 at 17:55

Simple really, From all the other answers and comments (and some inputs of my own) this is what I gathered:

  • Microsoft doesn't include Easter eggs and this isn't one.
  • Even typing just ^ gives the same response.
  • ^ is used to finish incomplete commands: [thanks @n00b]

    C:\windows\system32>net ^
    More? user
    User accounts for \\INFINITEPC
    Administrator            Guest                    Rahul
    The command completed successfully.

  • So basically if you type ip^ and press enter and then type config then cmd registers it as ipconfig.
  • ^ is used to make long commands more readable. [thanks @Steven]
  • I thought this is an easter egg because I didn't expect cmd to respond in a human language

  • 0

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