Which which - Batch File Hackiness - Dave's Blog


Which which - Batch File Hackiness

2007 Aug 9, 5:41To satisfy my hands which have already learned to type *nix commands I like to install Win32 versions of common GNU utilities. Unfortunately, the which command is a rather literal port and requires you to enter the entire name of the command for which you're looking. That is 'which which' won't find itself but 'which which.exe' will. This makes this almost useless for me so I thought to write my own as a batch file. I had learned about a few goodies available in cmd.exe that I thought would make this an easy task. It turned out to be more difficult than I thought.

for /F "usebackq tokens=*" %%a in ( `"echo %PATH:;=& echo %"` ) do (
    for /F "usebackq tokens=*" %%b in ( `"echo %PATHEXT:;=& echo %"` ) do (
        if exist "%%a"\%1%%b (
            for  %%c in ( "%%a"\%1%%b ) do (
                echo %%~fc
The environment variables PATH and PATHEXT hold the list of paths to search through to find commands, and the extensions of files that should be run as commands respectively. The 'for /F "usebackq tokens=*" %%a in (...) do (...)' runs the 'do' portion with %%a sequentially taking on the value of every line in the 'in' portion. That's nice, but PATH and PATHEXT don't have their elements on different lines and I don't know of a way to escape a newline character to appear in a batch file. In order to get the PATH and PATHEXT's elements onto different lines I used the %ENV:a=b% syntax which replaces occurrences of a with b in the value of ENV. I replaced the ';' delimiter with the text '& echo ' which means %PATHEXT:;=& echo% evaluates to something like "echo .COM& echo .EXE& echo .BAT& ...". I have to put the whole expression in double quotes in order to escape the '&' for appearing in the batch file. The usebackq and the backwards quotes means that the backquoted string should be replaced with the output of the execution of its content. So in that fashion I'm able to get each element of the env. variable onto new lines. The rest is pretty straight forward.

Also, it supports wildcards:
C:\Users\davris>which.cmd *hi*
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