Microsoft DOS edit command

Updated: 11/10/2017 by Computer Hope

About edit

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

MS-DOS Editor edit command window


The edit command is an external command that is available in the below Microsoft operating systems as

MS-DOS 5.x and above
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows ME
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Vista *
Windows 7 *

* 64-bit versions of Windows do not support the edit command. Use notepad to edit files in a 64-bit version of Windows. Notepad can be started from the Windows command line by using the start command.

Edit syntax

EDIT [/B] [/H] [/R] [/S] [/<nnn>] [/?] [file(s)]

/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 the use of short filenames.
/<nnn> Load binary file(s), wrapping lines to <nnn> characters wide.
/? Displays this help screen.
[file] Specifies initial files(s) to load. Wildcards and multiple file specs can be given.

Edit examples

edit c:\autoexec.bat

This would look at the autoexec.bat. However, if the file is not found a blank blue screen is shown. When editing this or any file, ensure that you know what you are placing in the files improperly editing the file can cause issues with your computer.

If you are unable to get this program to work, try typing in "path c:\windows\command" if you have Windows 95 or higher, or type in "path c:\dos" if you have Dos 5.x, 6.x, 7.x, or Windows 3.x and try again. If you still are not able to get edit to work, it may not be on the hard drive; Type in dir /s at the c:\>. If it says that the file is not found, you may not have this feature.

Note: If you are using new versions of Windows running under a 64-bit processor the edit command no longer works. See our how to open and view the contents of a file on a computer document for other methods of opening a file from the command line.

Using copy con

If you are running an MS-DOS version 4.x or lower or you are unable to find on your hard drive, you can also use the below command to create a file.

copy con <name of file>

Once you have entered the above command this will create the file with the name specified.

Once you have typed all the lines you want to be in the file, press and hold Ctrl+Z. This should enter ^Z, once on the screen, press enter and one file should be copied.

Using edit to create a file

Using edit you can also create files; for example, if you wanted to create a file called myfile.txt, you would type the below command.

edit myfile.txt

This would bring up a blank edit screen, as long as the file is saved upon exit this will create the file myfile.txt.

Additional information

Note: 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 shortcut keys as seen in the below list.

Tip: Pressing Alt allows you to quickly navigate through edit without having to memorize the below commands.

Home Move cursor to the beginning of the line currently on.
End Move cursor to the end of the line currently on.
Ctrl+Up Scroll up one line.
Ctrl+Down Scroll down one line.
PageUp Scroll up one screen.
PageDown Scroll down one screen.
Ctrl+PageUp Scroll left one screen.
Ctrl+PageDown Scroll right one screen.
Ctrl+Home Scroll to the top of the document.
Ctrl+End Scroll to the bottom of the document.
Ctrl+Left Move left one word.
Ctrl+Right Move right one word.
Enter Starts a new line or moves text after cursor down.
Delete (Del) Deletes one character that cursor is on or currently selected text.
Backspace Deletes one character before the cursor.
Tab Moves cursor or text to next tab stop, or indents line if at first character.
Insert Switch between insert and overwrite modes.
Ctrl+Y Deletes the current line.
Ctrl+V Pastes contents currently within 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 will highlight text, such as Ctrl+Shift+Right.
Ctrl+C Copies currently selected text into buffer.
Ctrl+X Cuts the currently selected text into buffer.
Shift+Tab Removes indents on the selected line.
Ctrl+Q+F Find text.
Ctrl+Q+A Find and replace text.
F3 Repeat last search.
F6 Switch to the next edit window, if any.
Ctrl+F6 Open new edit window.
Ctrl+F4 Closes second edit window.
Ctrl+F8 Resizes edit window.
F1 Displays help.

Technical support

Reference Question
CH001303 The edit command is missing in Windows.
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