Using ATTRIB, CHKDSK, or DIR Command to Locate Files

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Article ID: 89727 - View products that this article applies to.
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Locating files on your hard drive can be accomplished with the MS-DOS ATTRIB and CHKDSK commands. With MS-DOS 5.0, 6.0, or 6.2, you can locate files using the DIR command. These commands are also very useful when searching for multiple copies of a file.


The MS-DOS 5.0 and later internal command DIR provides an /S option that allows you to search all subdirectories for occurrences of the specified file. For example, the following command will find the COMMAND.COM file in every directory on the C drive:
dir c:\ /s
In MS-DOS versions 3.3 and later, the MS-DOS external command ATTRIB can be used to check for the existence of a file on a specific drive. The following command issued from the root directory (C:\>) will find the COMMAND.COM file in every directory on drive C and display their attributes:
attrib c:\ /s
NOTE: When using DIR or ATTRIB, you must specify that the search start at the root path in order to search the entire drive, or you can specify a pathname if you want to restrict the search to a certain branch of the directory tree.

With MS-DOS versions 2.0 and later, you can locate a file on a drive by using the MS-DOS external commands CHKDSK and FIND. For example, the following will find COMMAND.COM:
chkdsk c: /v | find "COMMAND.COM"
Note: Because the FIND command is case sensitive, you must specify the filename in capital letters. Also, because the pipe creates a temporary file, you must have write access to the current disk/directory.

When using the DIR and ATTRIB commands, issue the command from the root directory to include all locations of the file on a disk. When using the CHKDSK command, all copies of the file are displayed regardless of the directory you're in.


Article ID: 89727 - Last Review: November 16, 2006 - Revision: 2.1
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 2.11 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 3.1
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 3.2 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 3.21 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 3.3 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 3.3a
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 4.01 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0a
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.2 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.21 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.22 Standard Edition
Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.

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