Is there an equivalent of 'which' on the Windows command line?

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As I sometimes have path problems, where one of my own cmd scripts is hidden (shadowed) by another program (earlier on the path), I would like to be able to find the full path to a program on the Windows command line, given just its name.

Is there an equivalent to the UNIX command 'which'?

On UNIX, which command prints the full path of the given command to easily find and repair these shadowing problems.

Windows Server 2003 and later (i.e. anything after Windows XP 32 bit) provide the where.exe program which does some of what which does, though it matches all types of files, not just executable commands. (It does not match built-in shell commands like cd.) It will even accept wildcards, so where nt* finds all files in your %PATH% and current directory whose names start with nt.

Try where /? for help.

Note that Windows PowerShell defines where as an alias for the Where-Object cmdlet, so if you want where.exe, you need to type the full name instead of omitting the .exe extension.

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While later versions of Windows have a where command, you can also do this with Windows XP by using the environment variable modifiers, as follows:

c:\> for %i in (cmd.exe) do @echo.   %~$PATH:i
   C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe

c:\> for %i in (python.exe) do @echo.   %~$PATH:i
   C:\Python25\python.exe

You don't need any extra tools and it's not limited to PATH since you can substitute any environment variable (in the path format, of course) that you wish to use.


And, if you want one that can handle all the extensions in PATHEXT (as Windows itself does), this one does the trick:

@echo off
setlocal enableextensions enabledelayedexpansion

:: Needs an argument.

if "x%1"=="x" (
    echo Usage: which ^<progName^>
    goto :end
)

:: First try the unadorned filenmame.

set fullspec=
call :find_it %1

:: Then try all adorned filenames in order.

set mypathext=!pathext!
:loop1
    :: Stop if found or out of extensions.

    if "x!mypathext!"=="x" goto :loop1end

    :: Get the next extension and try it.

    for /f "delims=;" %%j in ("!mypathext!") do set myext=%%j
    call :find_it %1!myext!

:: Remove the extension (not overly efficient but it works).

:loop2
    if not "x!myext!"=="x" (
        set myext=!myext:~1!
        set mypathext=!mypathext:~1!
        goto :loop2
    )
    if not "x!mypathext!"=="x" set mypathext=!mypathext:~1!

    goto :loop1
:loop1end

:end
endlocal
goto :eof

:: Function to find and print a file in the path.

:find_it
    for %%i in (%1) do set fullspec=%%~$PATH:i
    if not "x!fullspec!"=="x" @echo.   !fullspec!
    goto :eof

It actually returns all possibilities but you can tweak it quite easily for specific search rules.

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Under PowerShell, Get-Command will find executables anywhere in $Env:PATH.

Get-Command eventvwr

CommandType   Name          Definition
-----------   ----          ----------
Application   eventvwr.exe  c:\windows\system32\eventvwr.exe
Application   eventvwr.msc  c:\windows\system32\eventvwr.msc

It also finds PowerShell cmdlets, functions, aliases, files with custom executables extensions via $Env:PATHEXT, etc. defined for the current shell (quite akin to Bash's type -a foo) - making it a better go-to than other tools like where.exe, which.exe, etc which are unaware of these PowerShell commands.

Finding executables using only part of the name
gcm *disk*

CommandType     Name                             Version    Source
-----------     ----                             -------    ------
Alias           Disable-PhysicalDiskIndication   2.0.0.0    Storage
Alias           Enable-PhysicalDiskIndication    2.0.0.0    Storage
Function        Add-PhysicalDisk                 2.0.0.0    Storage
Function        Add-VirtualDiskToMaskingSet      2.0.0.0    Storage
Function        Clear-Disk                       2.0.0.0    Storage
Cmdlet          Get-PmemDisk                     1.0.0.0    PersistentMemory
Cmdlet          New-PmemDisk                     1.0.0.0    PersistentMemory
Cmdlet          Remove-PmemDisk                  1.0.0.0    PersistentMemory
Application     diskmgmt.msc                     0.0.0.0    C:\WINDOWS\system32\diskmgmt.msc
Application     diskpart.exe                     10.0.17... C:\WINDOWS\system32\diskpart.exe
Application     diskperf.exe                     10.0.17... C:\WINDOWS\system32\diskperf.exe
Application     diskraid.exe                     10.0.17... C:\WINDOWS\system32\diskraid.exe
...
Finding custom executables

To find other non-windows executables (python, ruby, perl, etc), file extensions for those executables need to be added to the PATHEXT environmental variable (defaults to .COM;.EXE;.BAT;.CMD;.VBS;.VBE;.JS;.JSE;.WSF;.WSH;.MSC;.CPL) to identify files with these extensions in the PATH as executable. As Get-Command also honours this variable, it can be extended to list custom executables. e.g.

$Env:PATHEXT="$Env:PATHEXT;.dll;.ps1;.psm1;.py"     # temporary assignment, only for this shell's process

gcm user32,kernel32,*WASM*,*http*py

CommandType     Name                        Version    Source
-----------     ----                        -------    ------
ExternalScript  Invoke-WASMProfiler.ps1                C:\WINDOWS\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\Invoke-WASMProfiler.ps1
Application     http-server.py              0.0.0.0    C:\Users\ME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WindowsApps\http-server.py
Application     kernel32.dll                10.0.17... C:\WINDOWS\system32\kernel32.dll
Application     user32.dll                  10.0.17... C:\WINDOWS\system32\user32.dll

You can quickly set up an alias with sal which gcm (short form of set-alias which get-command).

More information and examples can be found under the online help for Get-Command.

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In Windows PowerShell:

set-alias which where.exe

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If you have PowerShell installed (which I recommend), you can use the following command as a rough equivalent (substitute programName for your executable's name):

($Env:Path).Split(";") | Get-ChildItem -filter programName*

More is here: My Manwich! PowerShell Which

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Comments
  • Foredecker: "which" searches the PATH for the executable that will be run if you type a command at the shell prompt.
  • for example, if you have 5 versions of Java installed and you don't know which one is being used you can type "which java" and it gives you the PATH to the binary
  • @Foredecker, MR says it's "where" in Win2k3 but Win2k3 wasn't part of the question. If "where" isn't in the other Windows versions, other answers are also valid. IMNSHO, the answer that works on all Windows versions is the best. Also, the other answers aren't wrong, just different ways of doing it.
  • I know this question arose before SuperUser, but it probably belongs there.
  • There is no which command in standard Unix. The POSIX utility is type. The C Shell has a which command, and some systems have it as an external executable. For instance, on Debian Linux, which comes from a package called debutils. This external which does not "see" shell built-ins, aliases or functions. type does; Bash's type has an option to suppress that and just do a path lookup.
  • No, because grep examines the contents of its input, which you have to give explicitly. which and where.exe only look at the names of the files in a set of directories set in the PATH environment variables.
  • @Ajedi32 - Correct, which is not in XP. As I said, "Windows Server 2003 and later".
  • Works in Windows 8
  • watch out that this wont work in powershell unless you type where.exe
  • Remember that where.exe is not a shell builtin, you need to have %windir%\system32 on your %PATH% - which may not be the case, as using where suggests that you may be working on problems with your path!
  • Hey, I wish I had learned that! Too bad it doesn't work with MS-DOS or Win9x (that is, with command.com). (Raymond Chen has a more "elaborate" version you can turn into a batch file: blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2005/01/20/357225.aspx )
  • @Michael, if you're still using DOS or Win95, finding executables on the path are the least of your problems :-)
  • windows recognizes more than .exe as executable. Last time I coded a which back in W95/DOS days amdittedly, the search order was - current dir, then each path dir, for cmd.com, then cmd.exe, then cmd.bat So, even cmd.bat in current dir is executed befroe cmd.exe soemwhere in path