The Windows Command Prompt (CMD) is a useful tool, especially if you prefer typing commands to using the mouse. In this article, we’ll show you how to change the directory in CMD with basic commands. 

You can use the Command Prompt to browse between folders using the “change directory” command. 

We’ll go over how to change directories in CMD, navigate between different folder levels, troubleshoot common issues, and master some important commands. 

Let’s begin. 

Why Change Directory in CMD?

Before you learn how to change the directory in CMD, let’s find out why you may want to change it in the Command Prompt.

One effective way to navigate the file system is to change the directory in CMD. You can access multiple areas inside your computer’s file system by changing directories.

This makes it easier for you to manage data, run applications, and carry out various tasks. Browsing directories is useful when using command-line tools, scripting, or batch processing.

That’s because it allows you to access and change files and directories from multiple locations without specifying the full path every time. 

When you use the command line to work with files and directories, it helps you to improve productivity and streamline workflow when you change directories in CMD.

What Is the Command Prompt?
It’s a text-based interface in Windows that allows you to interact with the operating system by typing commands. The Command Prompt offers numerous ways to use a command-line interface (CLI) to carry out various tasks, like:

  • managing files and directories, 
  • operating programs, 
  • navigating the file system, and 
  • customizing system settings.”

Read this guide for more Command Prompt commands: Windows Command Prompt: Most Useful Commands.

How to Open the Command Prompt in Windows 11 and 10

Before you learn how to navigate in CMD, you need to know how to open the Command Prompt, whether you use Windows 10 or 11.

Here’s how to open the Command Prompt:

  • Typecmd in the search bar on Windows 11 or 10.
  • Right-click on the Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.” 
Run Command Prompt As Admin
When running a command that depends on the current directory, it’s best to avoid changing directories in CMD, especially if you’re not sure what will happen. 

For example, let’s say you use the Command Prompt to change the directory in the middle of a running script or batch file. 

When you access files or resources in the current directory, it could cause disruptions and failures. 

In the same way, when you change the directory in CMD, it could cause you to deviate from the intended process and make the task more difficult if you’re following a set of instructions or troubleshooting steps that demand you to stay in a specific directory. 

It’s always safer to stay in the current directory to ensure that commands and tasks are carried out correctly and without unexpected issues in such situations.

Also read: Most Useful Powershell Commands: Cheat Sheet 

How Do I Change Directories in the Command Prompt?

Here’s how to change directories in CMD in Windows 11 and 10: 

  • Open the Command Prompt without administrative privileges. 
  • Typecd and press the spacebar to create a space. 
open Command Prompt without admin privileges cd
  • Drag and drop the directory or folder you want to change onto the CMD interface. 
Command Prompt paste patch to file
Command Prompt drag and drop folder
  • Press Enter.” 

This is one of the easiest ways to learn how to navigate to a folder in CMD.

A directory path, or simply a path, is a string of characters that shows where a file or folder is located within a file system. It helps you to navigate and find specific files and folders inside the file system hierarchy of a computer. A directory route usually consists of several folder or directory names separated by a backslash. For example, a directory path in Windows looks like C:\Users\Username\Documents.

How Do I Navigate to a Folder in the Command Prompt?

If you want to know how to change directories in the Command Prompt by typing, follow the steps below.

You can use this method if the above mentioned drag-and-drop method doesn’t work. However, before you proceed, make sure you know the directory’s name:

  • Open the Command Prompt. 
  • Typecd,” press the spacebar, and type the name of the folder you want to find. 
Alternatively, you can use the “cd name\name” command to simultaneously go down two levels of directories. For example, you can access the ’Document folder in the Admin folder using “cd Admin\Documents.” Type “cd..” to move up one level and then “cd..” again to return to the beginning directory. Type “dir” and press “Enter” if you’re not sure where you are in the directory hierarchy.

How to Change Directory in CMD: Common Errors and Troubleshooting

Even if you learn how to change the directory in CMD In Windows 10 or 11, you can still encounter an error:

1. Directory not found

The “Directory not found” error usually occurs when you misspell directory names or use incorrect capitalization. So, check if the directory name and its casing are correct. Also, you can fix this problem by checking that the directory actually exists in the current location or by providing the whole path if it does not. You can also use the “dir” command to list every directory to confirm the directory’s existence. Furthermore, switch to the right disk using its corresponding drive letter followed by a colon (e.g., “D:”) before accessing directories on various drives.

2. Access denied

The “Access denied” error usually comes from insufficient access permissions to the directory. Check if you have the required privileges, especially for directories that require administrative access. If the directories are on a shared network, make sure you have the permission to make changes. If the directory is secured by system or User Account Control settings, you may need to change the security settings or contact the system administrator.

How to Change the Directory in CMD: Explained

Knowing how to change directories in CMD is a useful skill that can help you access and manage files and folders on your computer.

You can improve workflow, access resources more effectively, and work more efficiently by knowing your way around directories.

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If you want to change your current drive, type the drive’s name, followed by a colon, and press “Enter.” For example, type “D:” (without the quotes) and press “Enter.” This will allow you to change the active drive and access and modify files and directories on that drive.
An elevated Command Prompt is when you open the Command Prompt with administrative privileges. When you open with an elevated Command Prompt, you can change system settings and files that regular Command Prompt sessions can’t access or edit. 
You can create several directories using the “mkdir” command. For example, let’s say you want to create three directories named “Folder 1,” “Folder 2,” and “Folder 3.” Type “mkdir Folder1 Folder2 Folder3” (without the quotes) and then press Enter. This command will create all three directories simultaneously in the current directory. If you want to create folders not in the current directory, you can specify their whole paths.
In CMD, you can change the directory to the root directory by using the “cd” command with the forward slash (/). Just type “cd /” (without the quotes) and press “Enter.” With this command, you can move the Command Prompt to the root directory of the currently active drive. You can then access the files and directories at the top of the file system hierarchy from that location. Remember that every drive has its root directory. So, the root may differ depending on the drive you’re working with.