Using the time-saving FOR command

You can save yourself a lot of time with repetitive tasks by using the FOR command in a simple batch file or using it directly from the command line. The help for this little command can be a bit daunting, but once you've learned what it is doing you'll be able to figure out creative ways to use it.

The command can be broken down into a few parts to simplify it:

  1. The FOR command itself.
  2. The switch (i.e. /F, /D, /L) that tells the command how to behave.
  3. The variable it will use in a command.
  4. The file-set, set, string, etc., it will use to get the variable.
  5. And, finally the command it will do.

A simple scenario where you would use the FOR command is to copy files to several servers in a domain. Instead of doing a manual copy you would do something like this:
FOR /f %i in (servers.txt) do (xcopy /ecify c:Source_files %ic$temp)

This example tells it to use the servers.txt file (that contains a list of servers) and make a copy of all of the files contained in the Source_files folder to the temp folder on each server. To use the FOR command in a batch program, specify %%variable instead of %variable. In the example, it would be %%i instead of %i if used in a batch file.

    Requires Free Membership to View

This was first published in October 2004

There are Comments. Add yours.

TIP: Want to include a code block in your comment? Use <pre> or <code> tags around the desired text. Ex: <code>insert code</code>

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
Sort by: OldestNewest

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to:

Disclaimer: Our Tips Exchange is a forum for you to share technical advice and expertise with your peers and to learn from other enterprise IT professionals. TechTarget provides the infrastructure to facilitate this sharing of information. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or validity of the material submitted. You agree that your use of the Ask The Expert services and your reliance on any questions, answers, information or other materials received through this Web site is at your own risk.