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Category: Batch

Batch Scripting: Including Scripts and Managing Environment Variables

Batch scripting is a powerful tool for automating tasks in Windows environments. One useful feature is the ability to include one script within another, allowing for modular and reusable code. Let's explore how to include scripts and manage environment variables in batch scripting.

Including Scripts with the call Command

The call command is used to include one batch script into another. This feature facilitates code organization and reusability. For example, let's create two batch scripts, "script1.bat" and "script2.bat".


@echo off
set MY_VARIABLE=Hello from script1
call script2.bat
echo In script1, MY_VARIABLE is: %MY_VARIABLE%


@echo off
echo In script2, MY_VARIABLE is: %MY_VARIABLE%
set MY_VARIABLE=Hello from script2

In this example, script1.bat sets the MY_VARIABLE environment variable and then calls script2.bat using the call command. The output demonstrates that changes to the environment variable made in script2.bat are reflected in script1.bat.

In script2, MY_VARIABLE is: Hello from script1
In script1, MY_VARIABLE is: Hello from script2

Managing Environment Variables Across Scripts

When a script is called from another script using call, any changes made to environment variables in the called script persist in the calling script. This behavior allows for the sharing of variables between scripts.

It's important to note that this method of managing environment variables creates a shared scope between the calling and called scripts. This can be advantageous for passing information between scripts or modularizing code.

Best Practices for Environment Variables

  1. Clear Naming Conventions: Use clear and consistent naming conventions for your environment variables to avoid confusion and potential conflicts.
  2. Document Your Variables: Include comments in your scripts to document the purpose and usage of environment variables. This helps other developers (or even yourself in the future) understand the code.
  3. Avoid Global Variables if Unnecessary: While sharing environment variables between scripts is powerful, it's advisable to avoid excessive use of global variables to maintain script independence and reduce potential issues.
  4. Error Handling: Implement robust error handling to gracefully handle situations where a variable might not be set as expected.


Batch scripting provides a straightforward way to automate tasks in Windows environments. The ability to include scripts and manage environment variables enhances the flexibility and modularity of batch scripts. By following best practices, you can create well-organized and maintainable scripts that efficiently perform complex tasks.

Remember to experiment with these concepts in your own scripts and adapt them based on your specific requirements. Happy scripting!

Understanding setlocal in Batch Scripting

Batch scripting is a powerful tool for automating tasks in Windows environments. Within these scripts, the setlocal command plays a crucial role in managing environment variables and their scope.

What is setlocal?

setlocal is a command in batch scripting that initiates the localization of environment changes. Its primary purpose is to restrict the scope of environment variable modifications to the current batch script or the calling environment of that script. By doing so, it ensures that any alterations made to environment variables during script execution are temporary and do not affect the broader system.

How Does setlocal Work?

Consider the following example:

@echo off
echo Before setlocal: %MY_VARIABLE%

set MY_VARIABLE=LocalValue
echo Inside setlocal: %MY_VARIABLE%

echo After endlocal: %MY_VARIABLE%

In this script:

  1. Initially, the %MY_VARIABLE% is echoed, displaying its value before setlocal.
  2. setlocal is then used to initiate localization, creating a localized environment.
  3. Within this localized environment, MY_VARIABLE is set to "LocalValue."
  4. After the endlocal command, the script returns to the global environment, and the value of %MY_VARIABLE% reverts to its original state.

Use Cases for setlocal

The setlocal command is particularly useful in scenarios where you want to make temporary changes to environment variables without affecting the broader system settings. It is commonly employed when writing batch scripts that need to modify variables for specific tasks, ensuring that these modifications are isolated to the script's execution.

Example Use Case:

Suppose you have a batch script that requires a specific configuration or path during execution. Using setlocal, you can modify environment variables to meet the script's requirements without impacting the overall system configuration. Once the script completes, the changes are automatically rolled back with the use of endlocal.


Understanding and using setlocal in batch scripting is essential for managing environment variables effectively. By localizing changes, you can ensure that modifications made during script execution are temporary and do not have unintended consequences on the broader system. This command provides a level of control and isolation that is crucial for writing robust and predictable batch scripts.

In summary, setlocal is a valuable tool for scriptwriters, enabling them to make temporary environment variable changes in a controlled manner, ensuring the integrity of the broader system environment.

Capturing the Output of a Command to a Variable

Use the following for statement syntax with /f option

FOR /F ["options"] %variable IN (file-set) DO command [command-parameters]
FOR /F ["options"] %variable IN ("string") DO command [command-parameters]
FOR /F ["options"] %variable IN ('command') DO command [command-parameters]

    or, if usebackq option present:

FOR /F ["options"] %variable IN (file-set) DO command [command-parameters]
FOR /F ["options"] %variable IN ('string') DO command [command-parameters]
FOR /F ["options"] %variable IN (`command`) DO command [command-parameters]

    file-set is one or more file names.  Each file is opened, read
    and processed before going on to the next file in file-set.
    Processing consists of reading in the file, breaking it up into
    individual lines of text and then parsing each line into zero or
    more tokens.  The body of the for loop is then called with the
    variable value(s) set to the found token string(s).  By default, /F
    passes the first blank separated token from each line of each file.
    Blank lines are skipped.  You can override the default parsing
    behavior by specifying the optional "options" parameter.  This
    is a quoted string which contains one or more keywords to specify
    different parsing options.  The keywords are:

        eol=c           - specifies an end of line comment character
                          (just one)
        skip=n          - specifies the number of lines to skip at the
                          beginning of the file.
        delims=xxx      - specifies a delimiter set.  This replaces the
                          default delimiter set of space and tab.
        tokens=x,y,m-n  - specifies which tokens from each line are to
                          be passed to the for body for each iteration.
                          This will cause additional variable names to
                          be allocated.  The m-n form is a range,
                          specifying the mth through the nth tokens.  If
                          the last character in the tokens= string is an
                          asterisk, then an additional variable is
                          allocated and receives the remaining text on
                          the line after the last token parsed.
        usebackq        - specifies that the new semantics are in force,
                          where a back quoted string is executed as a
                          command and a single quoted string is a
                          literal string command and allows the use of
                          double quotes to quote file names in

For a very basic example, lets capture the result of the echo test to a variable. This can be done as follows:

for /f %I in ('echo test') do set OUTPUT="%~I"

Note: The echo test command here could be any executable command (e.g. executing a different batch or any executable file).

Reading a Batch Variable without the Quotes

Read a Batch Argument without the Quotes

This can be done by inserting a tilde (i.e. ~) character between the percent character and the corresponding argument position. 

For example for argument position 1 we can access it as the following:


Read a Batch Variable without the Quotes

This can be done with the following syntax:


Note: This is just using the replacement syntax as follows: