How to Fix Command Prompt Not Recognizing Commands?

By Dominic Chooper on April 25, 2023

The Command Prompt is a very useful tool available in Windows that allows performing a plethora of tasks very quickly and efficiently.

However, at times, it may malfunction and display an error message, stating something like “not recognized as an internal or external command” when you try to run a specific command.

This is quite a common error, and there are quite a few easy fixes for it. It is about those specific fixes and troubleshooting steps that this article will tell you about.


Why is Command Prompt Not Recognizing Internal or External Commands?

The most significant reason for the Command Prompt not to recognize internal or external commands is wrong input or incorrect execution of the command.

In such situations, Windows will not be able to find the executable matching the filename and the extension in any directory, according to the Environment Variables Path.

Another major reason for the Command Prompt failing to recognize internal or external commands is issues with the Windows Environment Variable itself, which actually maintains the record of the paths followed or to be followed by the Windows operating system.

There are also a few other reasons for this error to occur, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

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Ways to Fix Command Prompt Not Recognizing Internal or External Commands

How to Fix Command Prompt Not Recognizing Commands

Assuming that the specific programs you want to use are installed on your system, you can fix the issue of the Command Prompt not recognizing the internal or external command by writing the entire path, preferably inserted in double quotes.

You can also fix the issue by:

These are the steps that you should follow for each specific process.

Method 1: Check the Existence and Location of the Program

This process actually consists of different steps, depending on the outcome.

The first thing you should do is check whether or not the .exe files of the concerned programs are actually installed on your PC.

Then you must check whether it is stored at the correct location, which is usually C:\Windows\System32.

It is in this directory that Windows will look for the files of any app installed on the computer system. If it is not, then the Command Prompt will not recognize the command.


To check whether the specific program, say, Microsoft Edge or msedge.exe, is installed:

Type control in the box

View by Category

Programs and Features

Alternatively, if you View by Large icons, you can click on Programs and Features directly as shown below:

View by Large icons

Uninstall or change a program

To be doubly sure, also press the Windows and I keys to open Settings.

go to Apps

Apps & features

Now, if you do not find the program installed, install it first to proceed with the following steps.

Once you have verified the installation of the program, now check for its exact location in the following ways:

Go to This PC

Windows folder

System32 folder

Scroll down the entire list displayed on the right side of the window to check whether or not the specific program is located there.

If it is there, well and good. If it is not, you will need to move the program to the System32 folder by following these particular steps:

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Program Files or Program Files

Click on Copy from the drop-down menu

When you are done with all these steps, open the Command Prompt now and run the command that it was not allowing you to run before and hit Enter. CMD will now open it instantly, as shown in the image below:

open the Command Prompt now

Expert tip:

If you really have to move the files to the System32 folder, do it cautiously and make sure that you try the other solutions mentioned in this article first, where you do not have to install an application, and then go ahead with it.

This is because every time you move the appropriate executables into this folder to use from the Command Prompt, it will grow larger with a lot of files sitting in there.

Also, there may be specific executable tools that you won’t be able to move to the System32 folder.

This is because they are designed to be installed in a particular directory, and their specific path for installation is defined in the Windows Registry.

Method 2: Type the Full Path of the Executable File

The Command Prompt may not recognize the internal or external command if you do not type the full path of the executable file. Therefore, find the full path and type it always.


Copy as path

open the Command Prompt

Expert tip:

It is good to insert the command within double quotes. This is because the command will not work if there are white spaces within the file path.

The Command Prompt will typically read the command till the white space, considering it to be the end of the command. Anything written after the space will be considered a separate command.

When the entire command is put within double-quotes, it will not create such confusion and work successfully.

Method 3: Make Changes in Windows Environment Variables

You will need to add the path of the executable file to the Windows Environment variables to ensure that the Command Prompt recognizes the internal and external commands.


System and Security

Select and click on System

Advanced system settings

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Click on Environment Variables

Environment Variables window

Edit environment variable

Type the folder path

To find the folder path, you can proceed in two specific ways.

copy the path

click on the Browse button

Finally, restart your PC and try running the Command Prompt. This should resolve the problem.

Method 4: Change the Directory

There may be a few specific 32-bit programs installed on your PC that are designed to work only in a 32-bit environment.

Typically, the directory for these programs is C:\Windows\SysWOW64. Therefore, if the Command Prompt looks for them in the usual System32 folder, it will not find them and hence not recognize the command.

So, change the directory first by typing the command cd c:\windows\SysWOW64 in the Command Prompt, as shown below:

cd c:\windows\SysWOW64

Now, CMD will look for the 32-bit executable in the right directory and execute the command you want to run successfully.

Method 5: Change the Path

The issue of the Command Prompt not recognizing the internal or external command is mainly caused due to the path you are using and not the specific command.

So, make sure that you are using the right path. If not, change it.


This will take you to the main C Drive.

Now enter the particular command you want to run in the Command Prompt, ipconfig in this case, and it will run perfectly, which was not running earlier, as shown in the image below:

cd Windows\System32


So, as you see, this article includes the fixes for both versions of the error of the Command Prompt not recognizing commands.

One or the other will surely fix the error you are coming up against every time you want to run a command.

Just make sure that you choose and follow the one relevant to your specific case.