Command Line PHP on Microsoft Windows

This section contains notes and hints specific to getting PHP running from the command line for Windows.


You should read the manual installation steps first!

Getting PHP to run from the command line can be performed without making any changes to Windows.

C:\PHP5\php.exe -f "C:\PHP Scripts\script.php" -- -arg1 -arg2 -arg3

But there are some easy steps that can be followed to make this simpler. Some of these steps should already have been taken, but are repeated here to be able to provide a complete step-by-step sequence.

  • Add the location of the PHP executable (php.exe, php-win.exe or php-cli.exe depending upon your PHP version and display preferences) to the PATH environment variable. Read more about how to add your PHP directory to PATH in the corresponding FAQ entry.

  • Add the .PHP extension to the PATHEXT environment variable. This can be done at the same time as amending the PATH environment variable. Follow the same steps as described in the FAQ but amend the PATHEXT environment variable rather than the PATH environment variable.


    The position in which you place the .PHP will determine which script or program is executed when there are matching filenames. For example, placing .PHP before .BAT will cause your script to run, rather than the batch file, if there is a batch file with the same name.

  • Associate the .PHP extension with a file type. This is done by running the following command:

    assoc .php=phpfile

  • Associate the phpfile file type with the appropriate PHP executable. This is done by running the following command:

    ftype phpfile="C:\PHP5\php.exe" -f "%1" -- %~2

Following these steps will allow PHP scripts to be run from any directory without the need to type the PHP executable or the .PHP extension and all parameters will be supplied to the script for processing.

The example below details some of the registry changes that can be made manually.

Example #1 Registry changes

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

"Content Type"="application/php"

@="PHP Script"




@="\"C:\\PHP5\\php.exe\" -f \"%1\" -- %~2"

With these changes the same command can be written as:

"C:\PHP Scripts\script" -arg1 -arg2 -arg3
or, if your "C:\PHP Scripts" path is in the PATH environment variable:
script -arg1 -arg2 -arg3


There is a small problem if you intend to use this technique and use your PHP scripts as a command line filter, like the example below:

dir | "C:\PHP Scripts\script" -arg1 -arg2 -arg3
dir | script -arg1 -arg2 -arg3
You may find that the script simply hangs and nothing is output. To get this operational, you need to make another registry change.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

Further information regarding this issue can be found in this » Microsoft Knowledgebase Article : 321788.

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