What is Windows cannot find ‘cmd’ error

Some users experience a problem opening Command Prompt in Windows systems. The issue is followed by a message saying that:

“Windows cannot find ‘cmd’. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again”.

This can be damaging for those using Command Prompt to overcome other issues related to system performance. What is even worse is that Command Prompt can be used by other programs to run certain processes as well. The issue means that the “cmd.exe” file is missing and cannot be found by Windows. Usually, this can happen due to malware presence that hijacked and messed up the folder of cmd. Thus, we will start by running a scan and then try other methods later on.

windows cannot find 'cmd' error

Download Windows Repair Tool

Download Windows Repair Tool

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There are special repair utilities for Windows, that can solve problems related to registry corruption, file system malfunction, Windows drivers instability. We recommend you to use Advanced System Repair Pro to fix the “Windows cannot find ‘cmd'” error in Windows 10.

1. Scan PC for malware

Whoever uses the Internet on a regular basis, always remains at risk of being infected with unwanted or malicious software. Even if you think the opposite, we still recommend you to perform a full scan of your system to test out this option before proceeding to the next steps of recovery. Use Malwarebytes to detect and remove malware or unwanted software that could beat up the configuration of your PC. Download it through the link below and check if it solves the problem.

Download Malwarebytes

2. Check the Path in Environment Variables

If the previous step did not eliminate the problem, you can try restoring the path to the System32 folder where cmd is located. There is a possibility of the path getting twisted out of the regular one, which can raise the issue of cmd. In the instructions below, we will help you identify the loss and restore it if there is one indeed.

In Windows 10:

  1. Right-click on This PC and choose Properties.
  2. Navigate to Advanced system settings.
  3. In the opened window, go to Advanced and open Environment Variables somewhere below.
  4. Under the System variables section, double-click on Path.
  5. There, you will be able to see a list of important system variables. Make sure you have these listed out there:

  6. %SystemRoot%\system32;

  7. In case you cannot see any of them, this is the reason for the problem. Just click New and type in the missing variables likewise written above.
  8. Once done, restart your PC and try to launch the Command Prompt again.

In Windows 7 and 8.1:

The steps are the same as above. The only difference is that you will see variables divided by semi-colons (;). If you found something is not within the list of System variables, add the missing by using semi-colons to separate each.

3. Make sure cmd is enabled in Windows Registry

Run the following steps to see whether cmd is enabled in Windows Registry.

  1. Type Regedit in search next to the Start Menu, right-click on it and choose Run as administrator.
  2. When opened, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System.
  3. Now, you will see a blank space on the right side of the window. If there is no DisableCmd DWORD, the cmd is enabled. If there is one, you should remove it and reboot your PC.

4. Make sure cmd is enabled in Local Group Policy

This is another essential part of cmd working correctly. Try to do this and see the difference.

  1. Click Windows key + R combination and type gpedit.msc to initiate Local Group Policy Editor.
  2. Navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > System.
  3. From the list of variables, find and double click on Prevent access to the command prompt.
  4. In the opened tab, make sure it is not enabled. If it is, change the value to Not Configured or Disabled.
  5. Save changes and restart your PC.

5. Try to launch cmd via Windows Powershell

You can try to launch cmd via other in-built command utility (Windows Powershell). Here are the steps:

  1. Type Powershell in search next to the Start Menu.
  2. Right-click on it and choose Run as administrator.
  3. Then, simply type cmd and click Enter to open it.

If this does not work either, move on to the last, but radical step to fix the error.

6. Use the Windows Restore feature to roll back your system

When nothing works, the best decision to make is using the latest point of backup to restore the system back to a normal state. Sometimes there are system updates or configuration packs installed by Windows without the consent of users. Not an exception that your system received a faulty update that turned some settings upside down. To reverse the consequences, we will do the following:

  1. Right-click on This PC and choose Properties.
  2. Navigate to Advanced system settings.
  3. Go to System Protection and choose System Restore.
  4. In the opened application, click Next and choose the date when cmd worked correctly. There is also an option to Scan for affected programs, which will show what programs will be removed after the restoring procedure. In addition, if you have something important on your system, make a backup of it to prevent permanent loss.
  5. After the list of affected programs is found, click Next and Finish to start the restoration of your system.


This is how you can solve the “Windows cannot find cmd” error. Usually, there are a plethora of such problems with other programs/utilities installed on your PC. Even third-party software can be prevented from opening due to such malfunctions. Hopefully, this has helped you achieve success in resolving the issue.

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James Kramer
Hello, I'm James. My website Bugsfighter.com, a culmination of a decade's journey in the realms of computer troubleshooting, software testing, and development. My mission here is to offer you comprehensive, yet user-friendly guides across a spectrum of topics in this niche. Should you encounter any challenges with the software or the methodologies I endorse, please know that I am readily accessible for assistance. For any inquiries or further communication, feel free to reach out through the 'Contacts' page. Your journey towards seamless computing starts here