The WHERE command in Windows CMD is used to locate and display the executable file, script, or batch file’s path in a set of directories listed in the system path. This tool is particularly useful for system administrators and developers to verify the location of executables and to troubleshoot path issues.


The basic syntax of the WHERE command is:

WHERE [options] [pattern]
  • [options]: The command line options to modify the behavior of the command.
  • [pattern]: Specifies the file name or search pattern. Wildcards may be used.


  • /R <dir>: Recursively searches for the specified pattern starting from the directory <dir>.
  • /Q: Quiet mode; returns only the exit code (0 if found, 1 if not found).
  • /T: Displays the size and the last modified date and time of the file.
  • /E: Displays the environment variable value.
  • /F: Forces the command to display the results in the format “PATH = <complete_path_to_the_file>”.

Default Behavior

Without any options, WHERE searches for the pattern in all directories listed in the system PATH environment variable.


  1. Basic Usage: Find the location of notepad.exe in the PATH.
    WHERE notepad.exe
  2. Recursive Search: Find all .txt files within a directory and subdirectories.
    WHERE /R C:\Users\ExampleUser\Documents *.txt
  3. Quiet Mode: Check if python.exe exists in the PATH, suitable for batch scripts.
    WHERE /Q python.exe
  4. Display Details: Find cmd.exe and show details including size and last modification time.
    WHERE /T cmd.exe

Common Issues

  • Path Not Found: If the command fails to find the specified file, ensure that the file exists in the directories listed in the SYSTEM PATH or the specified directory.
  • Multiple Instances: Multiple results may appear if different versions of a file exist in the search directories. Use the full path for disambiguation.


Combine WHERE with other commands to enhance your scripts:

FOR /F "tokens=*" %G IN ('WHERE notepad.exe') DO @ECHO Found Notepad at %G

This loops through each instance of notepad.exe found and prints its full path.

  • SET: View, set, or remove environment variables which can be useful to understand the PATH in which WHERE searches.
  • DIR: List the contents of directories.

Further reading and official documentation can be found at the Microsoft command-line reference.

By understanding and leveraging the WHERE command, users can efficiently manage and troubleshoot the availability of executables and scripts in their Windows environment.