Edit command

Updated: 11/12/2023 by Computer Hope
Edit command entered at a command line MS-DOS prompt.

The MS-DOS text editor, edit, lets you view, create, or modify any text file on your computer. While running edit, a screen similar to the picture below is shown.


Edit is an external command available for the following Microsoft operating systems.


The edit command is a legacy 16-bit program, which is incompatible with 64-bit operating systems. Therefore, 64-bit versions of Windows do not come installed with, and cannot run, the edit command. On 64-bit Windows systems, use Notepad to edit files instead. See: Why is the edit command missing in Windows?

Edit syntax

EDIT [/B] [/H] [/R] [/S] [/<nnn>] [/?] [FileName...]
/B Forces monochrome mode.
/H Displays the maximum number of lines possible for your hardware.
/R Load file(s) in read-only mode.
/S Forces short file names.
/<nnn> Load binary file(s), wrapping lines to <nnn> characters wide.
/? Display a summary of command line options.
[FileName...] Specifies initial files(s) to load. Wildcards and multiple file specs can be given.

Edit examples

MS-DOS Editor edit command window

edit c:\autoexec.bat

Open the file c:\autoexec.bat to be edited, if it exists. If the file does not exist, a blank blue screen is shown.


If you are using new versions of Windows running under a 64-bit processor, the edit command no longer works. See: How to open, view, and edit the contents of a file on a computer.

Using "copy con"

If you are running an MS-DOS version 4.x or lower, or edit.com is not found on your hard drive, use the following command to create a file.

copy con FileName

After entering the command above, a file with the name specified is created.

After typing all the lines you want to be in the file, press and hold Ctrl+Z. Once you see "^Z" on the screen, press Enter and one file should be copied.

Using edit to create a new file

Using edit lets you to create a new file. For example, if you wanted to create a file called myfile.txt, type the command below.

edit myfile.txt

This command would bring up a blank edit screen. Type your text and save the file, and myfile.txt is created with the text you entered.

Additional information

  • Edit is only able to open a file with a maximum of 65,280 lines.
  • If your mouse drivers are not loaded while in MS-DOS or the Windows command line, you may have no mouse support. It is still possible to navigate the Editor using keyboard shortcuts as seen in the below list.
  • Pressing Alt lets you quickly navigate through edit without having to memorize all the commands listed below.

Commands available in edit

Home Move cursor to the beginning of the line.
End Move cursor to the end of line.
Ctrl+ Scroll up one line.
Ctrl+ Scroll down one line.
PgUp Scroll up one screen at a time.
PgDn Scroll down one screen.
Ctrl+PgUp Scroll left one screen.
Ctrl+PgDn Scroll right one screen.
Ctrl+Home Scroll to the top of the file.
Ctrl+End Scroll to the bottom of the file.
Ctrl+ Move left one word.
Ctrl+ Move right one word.
Enter Starts a new line or moves text after the cursor down.
Del Deletes one character that cursor is on or currently selected text.
Backspace Deletes one character before (left) the cursor.
Tab Moves cursor or text to the next tab stop, or indents line if at first character.
Insert Switch between insert and overwrite mode.
Ctrl+Y Deletes the current line.
Ctrl+V Pastes contents currently in the buffer, if any.
Ctrl+P Allows special characters to be inserted into edit.
Shift Using Shift in combination with any of the above scrolling or moving commands highlights text, such as Ctrl+Shift+.
Ctrl+C Copies currently selected text into the buffer.
Ctrl+X Cuts the currently selected text into the buffer.
Shift+Tab Removes indents on the selected line.
Ctrl+Q+F Find text.
Ctrl+Q+A Find and replace text.
F3 Repeat the last search.
F5 Switch to the next edit window, if any.
Ctrl+F4 Closes second edit window.
Ctrl+F6 Open new edit window.
Ctrl+F8 Resizes edit window.
F1 Displays help.

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