Specifies the command interpreter you want MS-DOS to use.

The SHELL command can only be invoked from Config.sys.


SHELL=filename [path] [parameters]
filename The full filename and path of the command interpreter to be used
pathThe path to the command interpreter. This is required so that the command interpreter can find itself when any transient parts of the program need to be reloaded at any time. The default value of path is the root directory of the startup drive (usually c:)
parametersAny command-line parameters or switches that can be used with the specified command interpreter.


There are three typical reasons for using the SHELL statement:

  1. The command interpreter is not Although not encouraged, it is possible to specify a command interpreter from another source (eg. DRDOS, or PCDOS).
  2. is not in the root directory of the start-up drive. When a disk is formatted as a system disk using FORMAT /S or with the SYS command, a copy of is put in the root directory. If it is moved for any reason, a SHELL statement is required so that the correct version of can be located and used.
  3. is required with one or more of its optional switches. Although the default settings of suit most situations, some aspects can be modified and, if required at startup, must be introduced within a SHELL statement.

When is invoked with a SHELL statement, it should be used with the /P switch to make it permanent.


If is in the root directory and is to be loaded with its default values, the following line is optional:
SHELL=c:\ c:\ /P

If is in the c:\windows\command directory, and it is to used with a non-default environment size, then the following line must be included in Config.sys:
SHELL=c:\windows\command\ c:\windows\command\ /e:1024 /P

If you should have any comments or suggestions,
please contact: Bob Watson
This page last revised:
December 9, 1999.