Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
LicenseProprietary commercial software

forfiles is a computer software utility for Microsoft Windows, which selects files and runs a command on them. File selection criteria include name and last modified date. The command specifier supports some special syntax options. It can be used directly on the command line, or in batch files or other scripts.

The forfiles command was originally provided as an add-on, in the Windows 98,[1] Windows NT[citation needed] and Windows 2000[2] Resource Kits. It became a standard utility with Windows Vista, as part of the new management features.


The forfiles command has several command-line switches. If no switches or parameters given, it outputs the name of every file in the current directory.


Switch Argument Meaning
/P pathname The directory (folder) to search for files in. The default is the current directory. UNC paths (\\machine\share) are not accepted.
/M searchmask A glob pattern (wildcard search). Only files whose filename matches the pattern are selected. The file extension is included in the filename; the path (folder name) is not. The pattern must match the entire name, or use wildcards. The default is to match all files.

This option treats glob patterns *.* and * differently. The former will only match files with a dot in their name, while the latter will match even those with no dot or extension. Most DOS/Windows commands will match files with no extension even when given a *.* pattern.

/S (none) Selects matching files in subdirectories. By default, only the single, specified directory is searched.
/C command Execute the given command for each matching file. The command string typically needs to be wrapped in double quotes. See below for the syntax within the command string. The default command is CMD /C ECHO @FILE, which causes the name of each matching file to be output (displayed).
/D date Selects files based on their last modified date. See below for date syntax. By default, files are selected regardless of their date.
/? (none) Displays a help message (brief usage instructions). Suppresses file search/command execution. May not be used with any other switch.

Command syntax

The command string is executed as given, except as noted below.

Sequences of the form 0xFF, where "0x" is literal, and "FF" represents any two-digit hexadecimal number, are replaced with the corresponding single-byte value. This can be used to embed non-printing ASCII characters, or extended ASCII characters.

The sequence \" is replaced with a literal quotation mark ". Using the 0x sequence form described previously, 0x22 can also be used, which additionally hides the " from the command interpreter.

Several variables are provided, to be used in the command as placeholders for the values from each file. Variables are technically not required, but must be used if the command is to vary for each file.

Variable Meaning
@file The name of the matching item, double quoted.
@fname The basename of the matching item (without file extension), double quoted.
@ext The file extension, double quoted, without leading dot. If a file has multiple extensions, only the last is returned. If the file has no extension, a quoted empty string is returned.
@path Full path of the matching item, double quoted, including drive letter, and file extension (if any).
@relpath Path of the matching item, double quoted, and relative to the starting directory (given by /P). Each path begins with a dot and backslash (.\).
@isdir Evaluates to the literal string TRUE if the matching item is a directory, or FALSE if not.
@fsize Size of the matching item, in bytes. Directories report a size of zero.
@fdate Date the file was last modified, in the localized date format of the current user.
@ftime Time the file was last modified, in the localized time format of the current user.

Date syntax

The date switch (/D) selects files based on their last modified date, given a date argument.

The date argument can be given as a literal date, in MM/DD/YYYY format (other date formats are not accepted). Alternatively, the date argument can be given as a number, in which case it is taken to mean an age in days (i.e., the day date days before the present date).

If the date argument begins with a minus (-), only files modified on or before the given date are selected (older file / modified earlier). Otherwise, only files modified on or after the given date are selected (younger files / modified later). An explicit plus (+) may be given, but is the default. Note that both modes select files on the given date. There is no way to select files only on a given date (without also either before or after).


The following command selects all log files (*.LOG) in the Windows directory 30 days or older, and lists them with their date.

C:\>FORFILES /P C:\Windows /M *.LOG /D -30 /C "CMD /C ECHO @FDATE @FILE"
6/12/2015 "iis7.log"
5/28/2015 "msxml4-KB954430-enu.LOG"
5/28/2015 "msxml4-KB973688-enu.LOG"
5/26/2015 "setuperr.log"

The following command would delete the same files.

C:\>FORFILES /P C:\Windows /M *.LOG /D -30 /C "CMD /C DEL @PATH"

The use of CMD /C is required in the above examples, as both ECHO and DEL are internal to the command processor, rather than external utility programs.

See also