The SETX command is used in Windows Command Prompt (CMD) to set or create environment variables persistently at the command line. It works by modifying the system environment, which can affect the current user or all users on the computer. The key advantage of SETX is that variables set with it are available in future sessions and do not disappear when the command prompt is closed, unlike the SET command.


The basic syntax of the SETX command is:

SETX variable value [/M] [/S system [/U [domain\]user [/P [password]]]]


  • variable : Specifies the environment variable name.
  • value : Specifies the value assigned to the environment variable.
  • /M : Optional. Modify the system variable instead of the user variable (requires administrative rights).
  • /S system : Optional. Specifies a remote system to set the environment variable on.
  • /U [domain\]user : Optional. Runs the command with the permissions of the specified user account.
  • /P [password] : Optional. Specifies the password of the user account that is specified with /U.


  • /M: Apply changes to the system environment variables instead of the user environment (requires admin rights).
  • /S system: Defines the target system for the command.
  • /U [domain]user: Specifies the user context under which the command should execute.
  • /P [password]: Indicates the password for the specified user, necessary if /U is used.


1. Set a User Environment Variable

SETX JAVA_HOME "C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-14"

This command sets the JAVA_HOME environment variable to the path of JDK 14 for the current user.

2. Set a System Environment Variable

SETX JAVA_HOME "C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-14" /M

This command sets the JAVA_HOME variable at the system level, affecting all users (administrative rights are required).

3. Set an Environment Variable on a Remote System

SETX /S system02 /U user /P password JAVA_HOME "C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-14"

Sets the JAVA_HOME environment variable on a remote system system02 using specified user credentials.

Common Issues

1. No Permission to Modify System Environment

Users frequently encounter permission issues, especially when using /M without administrative rights. To resolve, run the command prompt as an administrator.

2. Not Specifying a Value

Forgetting to provide a value with SETX will result in an empty variable. Always verify that both variable name and value are correctly specified.

3. Commands Not Reflecting in the Same Session

Changes made by SETX are not reflected in the command prompt session where the command was run, but will appear in new sessions.


SETX is often used in scripting to automate the configuration of software environments. Here is an example of a batch script that checks for the existence of a variable before setting it:

@echo off
    SETX JAVA_HOME "C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-14" /M
) ELSE (
    ECHO JAVA_HOME already set

This script checks if JAVA_HOME is defined, and sets it if not.

  • SET: Temporary sets or displays environment variables.
  • GETENV: Retrieve the value of one or all environment variables.
  • ENV: Display, set, or remove environment variables.

Further Reading: Visit the official Microsoft documentation: MS Docs: SETX for more detailed information about the SETX command.