The DIR command in Windows Command Prompt displays a list of files and directories in a specific directory. Its primary purpose is to allow users to view the content and structure of directories, making it invaluable for navigating the filesystem and managing files. It is most effective in administrative tasks, data management, and script automation where visibility of file system contents is required.


The basic syntax for the DIR command is:

DIR [drive:][path][filename] [/A[[:]attributes]] [/B] [/C] [/D] [/L] [/N] [/O[[:]sortorder]] [/P] [/Q] [/R] [/S] [/T[[:]timefield]] [/W] [/X] [/4]
  • [drive:][path][filename] specifies the drive, directory, and files to list.
  • Options can be combined to refine the output according to the user’s needs.


  • /A[[:]attributes] : Displays files with specified attributes. Attributes include D (Directories), H (Hidden), R (Read-only), etc.
  • /B : Uses bare format (no heading information or summary).
  • /C : Displays the file size in bytes.
  • /D : Same as wide but files are sorted by column.
  • /L : Converts filenames to lowercase.
  • /N : New long list format where filenames are on the far right.
  • /O[[:]sortorder] : Sorts the output in a specific order. Sort options include N (By name), S (By size), etc.
  • /P : Pauses after each screen of data.
  • /Q : Displays the owner of the file.
  • /R : Shows alternate data streams of the files.
  • /S : Includes subdirectories.
  • /T[[:]timefield] : Specifies which time field to display or sorts by. Options include C (Creation), A (Last Accessed), etc.
  • /W : Uses a wide list format.
  • /X : If filenames contain extended characters, displays the short names.
  • /4 : Displays years in four-digit format.


  1. List all files and subdirectories in the current directory:

  2. List all files in the directory and its subfolders:

    DIR /S
  3. Display files in bare format with their full path:

    DIR /B /S
  4. List only directories in a specific path:

    DIR C:\ /AD
  5. Sort files by size in descending order and include subdirectories:

    DIR /O-S /S

Common Issues

  • Access Denied: This occurs if the user doesn’t have sufficient permissions. Ensure you have the necessary rights or run CMD as an administrator.
  • File Not Found: Make sure the path and filename are correct. Check for typos.
  • Output Clutter: Especially with large directories, using /P for pagination or /W for less detailed output can help.


Combine DIR with other commands for powerful scripts:

  • List large files for cleanup:

    FOR /R %G in (*) DO @IF %~zG GTR 10000000 ECHO %G
  • Find a specific file and output details:

    DIR /S /B | FINDSTR "myfile.txt"
  • CD: Changes the current directory.
  • COPY: Copies files from one location to another.
  • DEL: Deletes one or more files.
  • MOVE: Moves files from one directory to another.

Additional resources and the official documentation for these commands can be found on the Microsoft documentation page.