How to turn on AutoComplete in Windows Command Prompt

If you are a Windows power user who frequently needs to use the Command Prompt regularly, then you find it useful to turn on auto-complete in Command Prompt. If you want to make the change permanent, you will have to edit the Windows Registry.

File name completion and folder name completion are quick-search features of the Windows command processor or cmd.exe. Auto-complete for CMD.exe is not enabled by default in Windows – you have to enable it.

Enable AutoComplete in Command Prompt

You can activate auto-complete permanently or for the current session only.

Activate auto-complete in CMD temporarily

To activate auto-complete in CMD for the current user for the current command session, open Run box, type the following command and hit Enter:

cmd /f

The /f switch enables or disables file and directory name completion characters.

Now press Ctrl+D to complete the folder name or Ctrl+F to complete a file name. Keep pressing this key combination and see the file names change.

To deactivate automatic complete, type the following and hit Enter:

cmd /f:off

Turn on auto-complete in CMD permanently

To enable auto-complete permanently in command prompt, run regedit to open the Registry Editor, and navigate to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Command Processor

autocomplete in command prompt

You will have to edit the CompletionChar value. The default is 40 in Hexadecimal. Set the value of REG_DWORD to 9. This will enable folder name completion.

Next, double-click on PathCompletionChar and change its value to 9.

This will set the TAB key as the control character.

If you want to use the same control characters that you use for a single command session as mentioned in the first part of this post, then set the values as follows:

  • 4 for Ctrl+D
  • 6 for Ctrl+F

The file name auto-completion feature will work on folders too, because Windows will search for the complete path and match against both file and folder names.

Go on to read more Command Prompt Tips Tricks!

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

2 Comments

  1. Milky

    Hi, Ctrl+F opens the “Find” window, like in any other app.
    Any way to go around it?
    Thanks!

  2. Jamie Robillard

    Yes, follow the instructions above. When you are finished changing the two values in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftCommand Processor to 9 then you need not worry. The tab key will be used for autocomplete just like in any other shell, even Windows Powershell.

    If that is not satisfactory then use the methods above to force ctrl-f to do autocomplete if that is really what you want. Though I do not understand why you would :D.

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