MS-DOS and Windows command line attrib command

Updated: 05/04/2019 by Computer Hope
attrib command

The attrib command allows an MS-DOS and Windows command line user to change the attributes of a file or files. For example, you could make a file hidden using the attrib command.

Note

If you need to change the ACL of a file, see the CACLS command.

Availability

Attrib is an external command that is available for the following Microsoft operating systems attrib.exe.

Syntax

Windows 7 and Windows 8 syntax

Displays or changes file attributes.

ATTRIB [+R | -R] [+A | -A ] [+S | -S] [+H | -H] [+I | -I] [drive:][path][file name] [/S [/D] [/L]]

+ Sets an attribute.
- Clears an attribute.
R Read-only file attribute.
A Archive file attribute.
S System file attribute.
H Hidden file attribute.
I Not content indexed file attribute.
X No scrub file attribute
V Integrity attribute.
/S Processes matching files in the current folder and all subfolders.
/D Process folders as well.
/L Work on the attributes of the symbolic link versus the target of the symbolic link.

See our attrib examples for information on how to use this command.

Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows XP syntax

Displays or changes file attributes.

ATTRIB [+R | -R] [+A | -A ] [+S | -S] [+H | -H] [[drive:] [path] file name] [/S [/D]]

+ Sets an attribute.
- Clears an attribute.
R Read-only file attribute.
A Archive file attribute.
S System file attribute.
H Hidden file attribute.
/S Processes files in all directories in the specified path.
/D Process folders as well.

See our attrib examples for information and examples on how to use this command.

Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows XP Recovery Console syntax

Note

The options below are the available options in the Windows Recovery Console.

Changes attributes on one file or directory.

ATTRIB -R | +R | -S | +S | -H | +H | -C | +C [file name]

+ Sets an attribute.
- Clears an attribute.
R Read-only file attribute.
S System file attribute.
H Hidden file attribute.
C Compressed file attribute.

See our attrib examples for information and examples on how to use this command.

Microsoft Windows 95, 98, and ME syntax

Displays or changes file attributes.

ATTRIB [+R | -R] [+A | -A] [+S | -S] [+H | -H] [[drive:][path]file name] [/S]

+ Sets an attribute.
- Clears an attribute.
R Read-only file attribute.
A Archive file attribute.
S System file attribute.
H Hidden file attribute.
/S Processes files in all directories in the specified path.

Attrib examples

attrib

Typing attrib by itself displays all files in the current directory and each of their attributes. If any file is hidden, it also displays those files.

MS-DOS and Windows command line attrib command

As can be seen in the example above, we typed the dir command to list the files in the current directory and could only see the "computer.bat" file listed. However, if you type attrib by itself, there are three files in this directory, "computer.bat" with read-only, "example.txt" with hidden, and "hope.txt" with the hidden and read-only attribute.

attrib +r autoexec.bat

Add the read-only attribute to the autoexec.bat file to prevent it from being modified until the read-only attribute is taken off. This command is helpful for important system files or any other file that you do not want to have mistakenly edited or changed by another program.

attrib +h config.sys

Add the hidden attribute to the config.sys file, causing it to be not be seen by the average user.

attrib -h config.sys

This command does the opposite of the example shown before this one. Instead of hiding the file this command makes the file visible if hidden.

attrib +r +h autoexec.bat

Finally, this example adds two attributes to the autoexec.bat and makes the file read-only as well as hidden.

Extended information

Below is the MS-DOS and the Windows command line file attributes bit positions and hexadecimal values with bit positions in the order of "7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0."

Bit Positions Hex Description
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 01h Read-only file
0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 02h Hidden file
0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 04h System file
0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 08h Volume Label
0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 10h Subdirectory
0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 20h Archive
0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 40h Reserved
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 80h Reserved
Examples
0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 21h Read-only and archive.
0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 32h Hidden, subdirectory, and archive.
0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 27h Read-only, hidden, system file, and archive.
0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 23h Read-only, hidden, and archive.

Additional information