Setting up command-line PHP on Windows


On *nix systems you usually have the php executable available in shell, so you can run command-line scripts like unit tests and such, but on Windows this isn’t usually the case. Let’s fix that!

There’s two ways to do this: Temporary and permanent


The temporary method will affect only a single command prompt.

Open command prompt (start, run, cmd) and type in the following:

set PATH=%PATH%;C:\path\to\php

Where C:\path\to\php is the folder where your php.exe file is located. After this, you should be able to run PHP in any folder like this:

C:\>php -v
PHP 5.2.5 (cli) (built: Nov  8 2007 23:18:51)
Copyright (c) 1997-2007 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v2.2.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2007 Zend Technologies
    with Zend Extension Manager v1.2.0, Copyright (c) 2003-2007, by Zend Technologies
    with Xdebug v2.0.2, Copyright (c) 2002-2007, by Derick Rethans

Your output may vary depending on your PHP version and extensions.


The permanent method will affect all command prompts and will persist upon reboots. It can also be set up to affect all users on the system and not only your account.

  1. Open control panel
  2. Go to System
  3. Choose the Properties tab
  4. Click Environment variables

From this screen you can edit the environment variables of the system. If you only wish to modify them on your user account, click New under your own variables box and type in the following:

Variable name: Path
Variable value: %PATH%;C:\path\to\php

If you want the change to affect all users on the system, choose the Path variable from the system variables box and click Edit.

Append the variable value with:


Note the ; character. It’s used to separate directories in the var, so be sure it’s present.

Again, C:\path\to\php is where your php.exe is located.

Now you should have the php executable available in command line. Have fun!