How to edit the Windows path environment variable in Windows 10

Matthew Adams By: Matthew Adams
3 minute read

Home » Windows » How to edit the Windows path environment variable in Windows 10

The Command Prompt is the last remnant of DOS (a former command-based operating system) preserved in Windows. You can open software and run handy tools, such as the System File Checker, with it. For example, you can run SFC by entering ‘sfc /scannow’ without specifying its path. To open third-party software in Windows, you would usually need to input a full directory in the Command Prompt. The path environment variable tells your system where it can find the SFC, but not the software.

The path environment variable could be a handy setting for those who often make use of the Command Prompt. Microsoft even replaced the Edit System Variable dialog in earlier Windows platforms with a new Edit environment variable path window in Windows 10. The Edit environment variable window enables you to add new paths to third-party software so that you can open the programs without entering their full directories in the Command Prompt. This is how you can edit the Windows path environment variable in Windows 10.

  • Click the Cortana taskbar button and type ‘advanced system settings’ in the search box. Then, select View advanced system settings to open the window in the shot below.

  • Press the Environment Variables button to open the window shown below.

  • There you can select Path in the System variables box. Selecting Path and pressing the Edit button opens the window shown directly below.

  • The Edit environment variable window above includes a C:\Windows\system32 path, which is where the System File Checker tool is. To add your own path, press the New button.

  • Enter ‘C:’ in the empty space and press the Browse button to select a folder. If you don’t enter something in the space for the new path, your selected folder directory replaces the path listed above it.
  • Now, select a folder that includes third-party software in the Browse for Folder window. For example, I selected a folder that includes Firefox.
  • Press the OK button on the Browse for Folder window to confirm the selection. The Edit environment variable window will include your selected path as in the snapshot below.

  • Press the OK button on Edit environment variable window to close it.
  • Click the OK buttons on the Environment Variables and System Properties windows to close them.
  • Now press Win key +X hotkey to open the Win X menu.
  • Click Command Prompt on that menu to open it as below.

  • Now you can open the software path you added to the Edit environment variable window by entering its executable. For example, if you added Firefox’s path to it you can open that browser by entering ‘Firefox’ in the Command Prompt.

Note that a program’s executable doesn’t always match the exact software title. For example, I found that Opera’s executable was Launcher. As such, check the software’s executable title in File Explorer and then enter that in the Command Prompt.

No longer do you need to enter C:\folder\subfolder\subfolder\software title to open a program! This certainly comes in handy if you’re not entirely sure what the software’s path is.

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