Programming Field

Wildcards - DOS/Command Prompt Reference

A wildcard consists of the characters ‘*’ and ‘?’, and is used in combination with general strings (such as letters and numbers). It is employed when searching for files, for example, when you don't know part of a file name or when you want to retrieve a list of files with the same pattern.



Represents ‘any single character’. For example, in ‘ho?e’, it would match ‘hoge’, ‘hole’, ‘home’, ‘ho9e’, ‘ho_e’, and so on.

[MS-DOS, Windows 95/98/Me] In a file name, ‘ho?e’ would match ‘ho.e’ as well, but ‘hoge.dt?’ would not match ‘hoge.dt’. However, ‘hoge?’ would match ‘hoge’.

[Windows NT/XP or later] In a file name, ‘ho?e’ does not match ‘ho.e’, but ‘hoge.dt?’ matches ‘hoge.dt’, and ‘hoge?’ matches ‘hoge’.

* Represents ‘any string of length 0 or more’. For example, in ‘win*’, it would match ‘win’, ‘wind’, ‘windows’, ‘wing’, ‘wins’, ‘’, and so on.

Note that a simple replacement in regular expressions would be ‘?’ → ‘.’ and ‘*’ → ‘.*’ (there may be subtle differences).


  • Wildcards are not supported in all commands. Please refer to the explanation for each command for more details.
  • The wildcard characters ‘*’ and ‘?’ cannot be used in file names or directory names. (Therefore, it is not possible to search for file names that contain ‘*’ or ‘?’.)


Sample 1

dir *. /w

Displays all files without extensions, including directory names that do not contain ‘.’.

* Executing this command will display file names that start with ‘.’, as well as those that do not contain ‘.’ at any other position.

Sample 2

for %1 in (*.*_) do expand.exe %1

Using the For command, performs the execution of ‘expand.exe’ for each file with an extension ending in ‘_’ by using them as individual arguments.

Sample 3 (Batch file)

md \Backup
copy *.in? \Backup

Copy all files with a three-character extension where the first two characters of the extension are ‘in’ (e.g. ‘setup.ini’ and ‘driver.inf’) to the directory ‘\Backup’.