MS-DOS and Windows command line edit command

Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope
edit command

The MS-DOS text editor, edit, allows you to 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.


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 the use of 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 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 cannot find on your hard drive, you can also use the following command to create a file.

copy con FileName

Once you have entered the command above, a file with the name specified is created.

Once you have typed 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, you can also create a new file. For example, if you wanted to create a file called myfile.txt, you would 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 will be 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 shortcut keys as seen in the below list.
  • Pressing Alt allows you to 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 the line.
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 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 will highlight text, such as Ctrl+Shift+Right.
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.
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.

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