Attrib Command (Examples, Options, Switches, and More)

Attrib Command Examples, Switches, & More

Screenshot of the attrib command in Windows 10
Attrib Command (Windows 10).

The attrib command is a Command Prompt command used to display or change the file attributes for a file or folder.

This attrib command is also available in MS-DOS as a DOS command, as well as in the offline command-line tools available in most versions of Windows.

Attrib Command Syntax & Switches

attrib [+a|-a] [+h|-h] [+i|-i] [+r|-r] [+s|-s] [+v|-v] [+x|-x] [drive:][path][filename] [/s [/d] [/l]]

Tip: See How To Read Command Syntax if you're not sure how to interpret the attrib command syntax you see above.

Execute the attrib command alone to see the attributes set on the files within the directory that you execute the command from.

+a = Sets the archive file attribute to the file or directory.

-a = Clears the archive attribute.

+h = Sets the hidden file attribute to the file or directory.

-h = Clears the hidden attribute.

+i = Sets the 'not content indexed' file attribute to the file or directory.

-i = Clears the 'not content indexed' file attribute.

+r = Sets the read-only file attribute to the file or directory.

-r = Clears the read-only attribute.

+s = Sets the system file attribute to the file or directory.

-s = Clears the system attribute.

+v = Sets the integrity file attribute to the file or directory.

-v = Clears the integrity attribute.

+x = Sets the no scrub file attribute to the file or directory.

-x = Clears the no scrub attribute.

drive:, path, filename = This is the file (filename, optionally with drive and path), directory (path, optionally with drive), or drive that you want to view or change the attributes of.

Wildcard use is allowed.

/s = Use this switch to execute whatever file attribute display or changes you're making on the subfolders within whatever drive and/or path you've specified, or those within the folder you're executing from if you don't specify a drive or path.

/d = This attrib option includes directories, not only files, to whatever you're executing.

You can only use /d with /s.

/l - The /l option applies whatever you're doing with the attrib command to the Symbolic Link itself instead of the target of the Symbolic Link. The /l switch only works when you're also using the /s switch.

/? = Use the help switch with the attrib command to show details about the above options right in the Command Prompt window. Executing attrib /? is the same as using the help command to execute help attrib.

Note: In Recovery Console, +c and -c switches are available for the attrib command, which set and clear the compressed file attribute, respectively. Outside of this diagnostic area in Windows XP, use the compact command to handle file compression from the command line.

Attrib Command Examples

attrib +r c:\windows\system\secretfolder

In the above example, the attrib command is used to turn on the read only attribute, using the +r option, for the secretfolder directory located in c:\windows\system.

attrib -h c:\config.sys

In this example, the config.sys file located in the root directory of the c: drive has its hidden file attribute cleared by use of the -h option.

attrib -h -r -s c:\boot\bcd

This time, the attrib command is used to remove multiple file attributes from the bcd file, an important file that must be working for Windows to start.

In fact, executing the attrib as shown above is a key part of the process outlined in my How to Rebuild the BCD in Windows tutorial.

Attrib Command Errors

Like with most commands in Command Prompt, remember to put folders and files with spaces in double-quotes. If you forget to do this with the attrib command, you'll get a "Parameter format not correct -" error.

Attrib command errors like "Access Denied" mean that you don't have enough access to the file(s) you're trying to make attribute changes to. Take ownership of those files in Windows and then try again.

Attrib Command Availability

The attrib command is available in the Command Prompt in all Windows operating systems including Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, plus older versions of Windows as well.

All offline diagnostic and repair tools available with the various versions of Windows, including Advanced Startup Options, System Recovery Options, and Recovery Console, also include the attrib command in some capacity.

The attrib command is also available in MS-DOS.

Changes in the Attrib Command

The +i-i, and /l attrib command options were first available in Windows Vista and have been retained up through Windows 10.

The +v, -v, +x, and -x switches for the attrib command are only available in Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.