Aliases in Windows command prompt

To add to josh’s answer,

you may make the alias(es) persistent with the following steps,

  1. Create a .bat or .cmd file with your DOSKEY commands.
  2. Run regedit and go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor
  3. Add String Value entry with the name AutoRun and the full path of your .bat/.cmd file. For example, %USERPROFILE%\alias.cmd, replacing the initial segment of the path with %USERPROFILE% is useful for syncing among multiple machines.

This way, every time cmd is run, the aliases are loaded.

For Windows 10, add the entry to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Command Processor instead.

For completeness, here is a template to illustrate the kind of aliases one may find useful.

@echo off

:: Temporary system path at cmd startup

set PATH=%PATH%;"C:\Program Files\Sublime Text 2\"

:: Add to path by command

DOSKEY add_python26=set PATH=%PATH%;"C:\Python26\"
DOSKEY add_python33=set PATH=%PATH%;"C:\Python33\"

:: Commands

DOSKEY ls=dir /B
DOSKEY sublime=sublime_text $*  
    ::sublime_text.exe is name of the executable. By adding a temporary entry to system path, we don't have to write the whole directory anymore.
DOSKEY gsp="C:\Program Files (x86)\Sketchpad5\GSP505en.exe"
DOSKEY alias=notepad %USERPROFILE%\Dropbox\alias.cmd

:: Common directories

DOSKEY dropbox=cd "%USERPROFILE%\Dropbox\$*"
DOSKEY research=cd %USERPROFILE%\Dropbox\Research\

  • Note that the $* syntax works after a directory string as well as an executable which takes in arguments. So in the above example, the user-defined command dropbox research points to the same directory as research.
  • As Rivenfall pointed out, it is a good idea to include a command that allows for convenient editing of the alias.cmd file. See alias above. If you are in a cmd session, enter cmd to restart cmd and reload the alias.cmd file.

When I searched the internet for an answer to the question, somehow the discussions were either focused on persistence only or on some usage of DOSKEY only. I hope someone will benefit from these two aspects being together here!

Here’s a .reg file to help you install the alias.cmd. It’s set now as an example to a dropbox folder as suggested above.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor]

For single-user applications, the above will do. Nevertheless, there are situations where it is necessary to check whether alias.cmd exists first in the registry key. See example below.

In a C:\Users\Public\init.cmd file hosting potentially cross-user configurations:

REM Add other configurations as needed
IF EXIST "%USERPROFILE%\alias.cmd" ( CALL "%USERPROFILE%\alias.cmd" )

The registry key should be updated correspondly to C:\Users\Public\init.cmd or, using the .reg file:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor]

Leave a Comment