Rob van der Woude's Scripting Pages


The CHOICE command was introduced in MS-DOS 6 and is still available in MS-DOS 7 (Windows 95/98).

In Windows NT 4, 2000 and XP, CHOICE is no longer a part of the standard distribution. It is, however, available as part of the Windows NT 4 Resouce Kit.
On the other hand, if you still have that old unused MS-DOS 6 or Windows 95/98 version lying around, you can use the CHOICE.COM from that version instead. (*)
Just copy it to a directory that is in your PATH.

Note: 16-bit DOS versions will not work in 64-bit Windows versions.

CHOICE is available again in Windows Vista and later versions.


CHOICE [ /C choices ] [ /N ] [ /CS ] [ /T timeout /D choice ] [ /M text ]
     This tool allows users to select one item from a list of choices and returns the index of the selected choice.
Parameter List:
     /C choices      Specifies the list of choices to be created.
Default list for English versions is YN
  /N   Hides the list of choices in the prompt.
The message before the prompt is displayed and the choices are still enabled.
  /CS   Enables case-sensitive choices to be selected.
By default, the utility is case-insensitive.

Note: DOS and NT Resource Kit versions use /S instead
  /T timeout   The number of seconds to pause before a default choice is made.
Acceptable values are from 0 to 9999.
If 0 is specified, there will be no pause and the default choice is selected.

Note: DOS and NT Resource Kit versions use /T:default,timeout instead.
  /D default   Specifies the default choice after timeout seconds.
Character must be in the set of choices specified by /C option and must also specify timeout with /T.

Note: DOS and NT Resource Kit versions use /T:default,timeout instead.
  /M text   Specifies the message to be displayed before the prompt.
If not specified, the utility displays only a prompt.
     The ERRORLEVEL is set to the offset of the index of the key that was selected from the set of choices.
The first choice listed returns a value of 1, the second a value of 2, and so on.
If the user presses a key that is not a valid choice, the tool sounds a warning beep.
If tool detects an error condition, it returns an ERRORLEVEL value of 255.
If the user presses CTRL+BREAK or CTRL+C, the tool returns an ERRORLEVEL value of 0.
When you use ERRORLEVEL parameters in a batch program, list them in decreasing order.



At the bottom of my errorlevel page you can find an example that uses CHOICE to convert redirected output to an errorlevel.

On my wait page CHOICE's time-out option (/T) is used to insert a delay in batch files.

An ingenious way to use CHOICE is demonstrated by Laurence Soucy's version of BootDriv.bat.

CHOICE can also be used to strip or replace certain characters from text strings, as explained on my Batch HowTo page, the CD-ROM example of my Solutions found at alt.msdos.batch page, and in the GetPorts example.


My PMCHOICE for NT, written in both KiXtart and batch, gives NT users almost the same functionality.
I haven't figured out a way to implement the time-out period in KiXtart, though pressing Enter will result in the default value, if specified.

The more recently written SecondChoice.bat (for Windows XP and later) also supports pressing Enter for the default value, and it is entirely self-contained, pure batch only.


My CHOICE.EXE for OS/2, written in Rexx and compiled by RXCLS, gives OS/2 users the same functionality.
To use the /T switch you would need Quercus Systems' RexxLib, though, which unfortunately is no longer available.


I also "ported" the CHOICE command to Rexx and Perl, though the latter does have some limitations.

page last modified: 2016-03-03