Rob van der Woude's Scripting Pages


command > file Write standard output of command to file
command 1> file Write standard output of command to file (same as previous)
command 2> file Write standard error of command to file (OS/2 and NT)
command > file 2>&1 Write both standard output and standard error of command to file (OS/2 and NT)
command >> file Append standard output of command to file
command 1>> file Append standard output of command to file (same as previous)
command 2>> file Append standard error of command to file (OS/2 and NT)
command >> file 2>&1 Append both standard output and standard error of command to file (OS/2 and NT)
commandA | commandB Redirect standard output of commandA to standard input of commandB
commandA 2>&1 | commandB Redirect standard output and standard error of commandA to standard input of commandB (OS/2 and NT)
command < file command gets standard input from file
command 2>&1 command's standard error is redirected to standard output (OS/2 and NT)
command 1>&2 command's standard output is redirected to standard error (OS/2 and NT)


Notes: (1) Where the table mentions redirection to a file you may also use redirection to a device. Redirection from a device is not always possible.
  (2) Redirection to the NUL device is often used to hide standard output, instead of displaying it on screen:
COPY *.* A: > NUL
Another frequently used redirection is redirection to a parallel port to print standard output:
In COMMAND.COM, if you frequently use this kind of redirection, you may find that after some time you'll get unexpected error messages complaining that there aren't enough free file handles left to acomplish some tasks and that you should increase the number of file handles, set in CONFIG.SYS (FILES=nn).
Since DOS treats devices like AUX, COMn, LPTn, NUL and PRN as files, opening a device will claim one file handle.
However, unlike files, devices will never be closed until reboot.
To make things worse, each device exists in every directory on every drive, so if you used redirection to NUL in, say, C:\ and after that you use it again in C:\TEMP, you'll lose another file handle.
There are tricks to decrease the number of file handles lost by redirection:
  • redirect to (one single temporary) file instead of NUL
  • specify a directory if you have to redirect to a device:
    DIR > %TEMP%\LPT1
    now you only claim one file handle per device, instead of one file handle per device per directory
  • use PRINT to print files:
    however, this will cost you some base memory, since a portion of PRINT stays resident in memory
These restrictions are not so severe in OS/2 or NT DOS sessions, since you'll probably close those sessions after executing only a few command(s), and a new DOS session will start with the full set of file handles available.
  (3) Redirections to one or more files tend to make batch files hard to read.
Sometimes the lines can be padded with spaces to align all redirection signs and make the batch file more readable.
However, if you were to do this with ECHO command lines, the spaces would really be ECHOed, which is not always convenient, to say the least.
On Marc Stern's web site I found a great solution: just place the redirections before the actual commands.
Take this imaginary batch file, for example:
ECHO Directory of all files on C: >> LOG1.LOG
DIR C:\ /S >> LOG1.LOG

Not exactly easy on the eye, that one?
How about this one, then?
>> LOG1.LOG   ECHO Directory of all files on C:
>> LOG1.LOG   DIR C:\ /S

It will do exactly the same, no difference! Much better, isn't it?
But now, try these:

As you will notice, in the second line, it is the output of VER that gets redirected to LOG1.LOG !!
As a rule of thumb: do not use this technique in command lines that also contain other redirections.
  (4) Redirecting both standard output and standard error to the same file or device is done by adding 2>&1 to the command line. This will only work in OS/2 and NT, not in MS-DOS.
Where you put 2>&1 is rather critical. It will only do what it is supposed to do when placed at the end of the command line (as Jennie Walker pointed out to me) or right before the next pipe ( | ).
  (5) When using redirection to create temporary batch files, keep in mind that the output that you redirect may vary with different language versions.
A sample of these differences is shown on the DATE/TIME page.
  (6) Sometimes we need redirection to create a temporary batch file that uses redirection itself. This may seem quite a challenge. How, for example, are you going to append the following command line to a temporary batch file:
DIR | FINDSTR /R /I /C:" 0 Dir(s)" >NUL
The following code will definitely not work:
For Windows NT 4 and later, you will need to escape the pipe and redirection symbols, which is done by prefixing them with carets ( ˆ ):
What we have done is tell the ECHO command not to interpret the pipe and the first > symbol but instead to treat them as ondinary characters that must be ECHOed. The escape characters themselves will not be visible in the ECHOed line, so the temporary batch file will contain the normal, unescaped pipe and redirection symbol again.
For "real" (or "legacy") DOS, (ab)use the PROMPT codes $L, $G and $B to display and/or redirect pipe and redirection symbols.

Redirection usually results in temporary files. Some notes on this subject can be found on my Temporary Files page.

Read my explanation of standard output and standard error streams.

Take a look at some of the examples available, they will give you an impression of the many possibilities of redirection

page last modified: 2016-09-19