Microsoft DOS sort command

Quick links

About sort
Availability
Syntax
Examples

About sort

Sorts the input and displays the output to the screen.

Availability

The sort.exe is an external command that is available in the below Microsoft operating systems.

All Versions of MS-DOS
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows ME
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7

Syntax

MS-DOS, Windows 95, 98, ME, NT Syntax

Sorts input and writes results to the screen, a file, or another device

SORT [/R] [/+n] [[drive1:][path1]filename1] [> [drive2:][path2]filename2]
[command |] SORT [/R] [/+n] [> [drive2:][path2]filename2]

/R Reverses the sort order; that is, sorts Z to A, then 9 to 0.
/+n Sorts the file according to characters in column n.
[drive1:][path1]filename1 Specifies file(s) to be sorted
[drive2:][path2]filename2 Specifies a file where the sorted input is to be stored.
command Specifies a command whose output is to be sorted.

Windows 2000 and Windows XP Syntax

SORT [/R] [/+n] [/M kilobytes] [/L locale] [/RE recordbytes]
    [[drive1:][path1]filename1] [/T [drive2:][path2]]
    [/O [drive3:][path3]filename3]

/+n Specifies the character number, n, to begin each comparison. /+3 indicates that each comparison should begin at the 3rd character in each line. Lines with fewer than n characters collate before other lines. By default comparisons start at the first character in each line.
/L[OCALE] locale Overrides the system default locale with the specified one. The ""C"" locale yields the fastest collating sequence and is currently the only alternative. The sort is always case insensitive.
/M[EMORY] kilobytes Specifies amount of main memory to use for the sort, in kilobytes. The memory size is always constrained to be a minimum of 160 kilobytes. If the memory size is specified the exact amount will be used for the sort, regardless of how much main memory is available.

The best performance is usually achieved by not specifying a memory size. By default the sort will be done with one pass (no temporary file) if it fits in the default maximum memory size, otherwise the sort will be done in two passes (with the partially sorted data being stored in a temporary file) such that the amounts of memory used for both the sort and merge passes are equal. The default maximum memory size is 90% of available main memory if both the input and output are files, and 45% of main memory otherwise.

/REC[ORD_MAXIMUM]  characters Specifies the maximum number of characters in a record (default 4096, maximum 65535).
/R[EVERSE] Reverses the sort order; that is, sorts Z to A, then 9 to 0.
[drive1:][path1]filename1 Specifies the file to be sorted. If not specified, the standard input is sorted. Specifying the input file is faster than redirecting the same file as standard input.
/T[EMPORARY]
[drive2:][path2]
Specifies the path of the directory to hold
the sort's working storage, in case the data
does not fit in main memory. The default is
to use the system temporary directory.
/O[UTPUT]
[drive3:][path3]filename3
Specifies the file where the sorted input is to be stored. If not specified, the data is written to the standard output. Specifying the output file is faster than redirecting standard output to the same file.

Examples

sort test.txt

This would display the sorted results of the text in test.txt.

sort test.txt /o output.txt

This next command takes the sorted results and store them in the output.txt file.

Additional information

  • See our sort definition for further information and related links on this term.