Microsoft is making it easier to modify your computer’s
environment variables on Windows 11 and Windows 10, which could
help you save time in Command Prompt.
For those unaware, Environment variables is a powerful tool
that let you set important directories, like the location of
apps or functions including the Temp folder. It also lets you
set the Path variable, such as the folders where the executable
is located, so you can easily run commands in a terminal.
For example, if you type ‘mspaint’ in the Command Prompt, it
will launch immediately, but if you type a third-party app like
‘mpv’ or ‘Chrome’, an error message will appear stating that
the command ‘mpv’ is not “recognized as an internal or external
command, operable program or batch file”.
That’s because native apps – Notepad or Paint – are already
defined in the Path, but apps like Chrome or MPV Player are
not. You can use the Environment Variables to easily define
paths for any app, but the tool isn’t really user friendly and
users need to define variables for individual user accounts.
If you’re familiar with PC’s environment variables feature, you
can easily save time in Command Prompt when you need to run
apps or certain scripts.
Microsoft has admitted that the Environment variable page is
very limited for ‘readability’ and understanding things like
path or specified folder can be difficult for beginners. The
company wants to show path in a more consumable way, allow
items that act like lists to be inserted like lists, and help
you easily define the paths to run executables.
PowerToys tool ‘Environment Manager’ could make managing
the Environment Variables easier.
“We are playing around with how we can improve Environment
variables. We have some ideas, but would love your opinions /
thoughts / ideas. One idea was show the calculated final
value(s) if item was in both system and user,” a Microsoft
official noted in one of
the Github posts.
As you can see in the above mockup screenshot, creating an
environment variable using PowerToys works the exact same way
as it currently does. For example, the user needs to click on
the ‘Add’ button and give a name and value to the variable.
You can also add multiple values and users still need to adhere
to the principles of the tool, like values must be separated by
Once you’ve created your variable, you can “OK” to apply
Microsoft is still working on the feature and we don’t know
when it will begin rolling out to users.