Invoking cmd.exe from .NET

One of the primary reasons I am writing this blog is to give back to the community -- technical blogs and message board archives have saved my bacon many times, so my plan is, whenever I spend an hour or two figuring something out and I wasn't able to find any concise resources about it, I'll write a post on it so that the next person may stumble across it and save some time.

Yesterday I was working on calling cmd.exe from within .NET, and had to piece together a few things from various places.  Here is the code I ended up with.  I've added comments to explain the reason for each line of code -- hopefully someone will find this helpful.


using System;
using System.Diagnostics;

namespace Utilities
    public class Command
        public static string ExecuteCmd(string arguments)
            // Create the Process Info object with the overloaded constructor
            // This takes in two parameters, the program to start and the
            // command line arguments.
            // The arguments parm is prefixed with "@" to eliminate the need
            // to escape special characters (i.e. backslashes) in the
            // arguments string and has "/C" prior to the command to tell
            // the process to execute the command quickly without feedback.
            ProcessStartInfo _info =
                new ProcessStartInfo("cmd", @"/C " + arguments);

            // The following commands are needed to redirect the
            // standard output.  This means that it will be redirected
            // to the Process.StandardOutput StreamReader.
            _info.RedirectStandardOutput = true;

            // Set UseShellExecute to false.  This tells the process to run
            // as a child of the invoking program, instead of on its own.
            // This allows us to intercept and redirect the standard output.
            _info.UseShellExecute = false;

            // Set CreateNoWindow to true, to supress the creation of
            // a new window
            _info.CreateNoWindow = true;

            // Create a process, assign its ProcessStartInfo and start it
            Process _p = new Process();
            _p.StartInfo = _info;

            // Capture the results in a string
            string _processResults = _p.StandardOutput.ReadToEnd();

            // Close the process to release system resources

            // Return the output stream to the caller
            return _processResults;


Published Wednesday, February 6, 2008 9:40 AM by gstarbuck


# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Wednesday, August 20, 2008 11:19 AM

Hey Guy...great article on how to launch cmd.exe from within .NET.  My question is how to do you convert the following line into VB.NET??

ProcessStartInfo _info =

               new ProcessStartInfo("cmd", @"/C " + arguments);

VB.NET does not like the "@" character!

Thanks so much!!

Leo Swiontek

Software Engineer

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Thursday, August 21, 2008 10:42 AM

Good question -- C# by default parses backslashes as escape characters, so you need to put the @ character before the string to tell the compiler to interpret the string literally.

VB.NET doesn't interpret the backslash as an escape character, so you can just take the @ sign out and it should work for you.

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Wednesday, September 24, 2008 11:06 PM


I'm not having any problems running the code in a winforms app -- can you give me more information on the problem you are having?

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Wednesday, October 8, 2008 8:41 AM

Thanks for this code!!!  It really helped me out.  Been looking for this all over.  I write Zebra Printer ZPL code to a text file and then need to do a "/C COPY " & path & " LPT1" to send it to the printer.  Knew how in VB6, but not .net.

Note to other readers: If your "path" contains spaces, you must wrap it in "s (quotes).  Otherwise, it won't work - cmd does not like spaces in folder/file names.

Thanks again for taking the time - it helped me.  :)

by Murf

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Monday, October 13, 2008 4:48 PM

I figured it out:

Obviously reading the redirected Output stream needs an explicit conversion, in some cases at least.

A call like:

System.IO.StreamReader sr = new System.IO.StreamReader(p.StandardOutput.BaseStream, textEndcoding)

fixed the problem for me. Reading the stream for the dir command on windows vista f***ed up basically all the digits (from windows.forms, not from console) In this case I run the command again with a changed encoding set to textEndcoding.

I can not see a reasonable explanation for this behaviour...

by stf

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Tuesday, October 14, 2008 9:09 PM

stf -- I'm glad to hear it, that's interesting behavior.  I'm back working on XP now for the near term, so I couldn't recreate that error -- it's a good thing to be aware of.

I really appreciate you hunting it down and posting the solution back here.

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Saturday, January 24, 2009 1:12 AM

thanks lot...plz give ur email id..for future reference...

by krish

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Wednesday, April 14, 2010 9:31 AM


Thanks for the code snippet and comments. This was very helpful.

by Steve

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Wednesday, September 1, 2010 4:42 PM

Thanks for this post! Was really helpful.

Comments in the code helped easily understand what's going on.

by Ratna

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Monday, March 7, 2011 11:10 PM

Using same code but ASP.NET not able run cmd at production server win 2003. i want to run sqlldr using command.

by Parveen

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Tuesday, March 8, 2011 7:29 AM


Your problem is possibly security related.  The Windows account that is running your software must have permissions to execute sqlldr as well as access to any file folders used.  You may want to try either impersonation, or modifying the security settings on your server to allow whatever user account is executing the software to also run sqlldr.

# re: Invoking cmd.exe from .NET@ Monday, December 24, 2012 2:04 AM

Very good & helpful post.

by Fahad

by Fahad Nawaz