MS-DOS (at least 6.22) had optional features such as DOSKEY to remember the command line history, which is now standard on modern command prompts. However, I'm not aware of an autocomplete feature, such as on modern systems by pressing Tab.

Was there a Microsoft supplied or third party utility for autocomplete on MS-DOS?


Microsoft didn’t provide anything like this for MS-DOS, but there are a number of third-party tools which can add auto-completion to the shell (along with other command-line editing features). A number of these are listed in the DOSKEY replacement section of the Free Software for DOS catalog: Toddy, CmdEdit, etc.

4DOS and FreeCOM, which are full shell replacements (the latter for FreeDOS, and somewhat anachronistic if you’re asking specifically about MS-DOS), have completion support built-in.

  • 1
    Most CMD.EXE versions for newer Windows systems obviously support TAB completion - But that's not MS-DOS. Also, I've always found CMD's way of cycling through the options instead of displaying them all a bit weird.
    – tofro
    Sep 27 '19 at 9:00
  • Thanks, I wasn’t sure about Windows. Sep 27 '19 at 9:03
  • 4
    +1 for 4DOS which was extremely useful at the time (~25 years ago).
    – shoover
    Sep 27 '19 at 22:21
  • 1
    @shoover ...and a healthy part of any effort to free up more conventional memory because it can load itself high more thoroughly than COMMAND.COM despite all the extra features.
    – ssokolow
    Sep 24 '20 at 9:13

Paul Houle wrote a version of doskey with autocompletion. I currently have it loaded under IBMDOS 5.00, but it works under other DOS versions as well.



Norton Command for DOS had both a command line history and a feature to quickly paste filenames into the command line: Pressing Alt and a letter would jump to the next file starting with that letter, more letters would refine the search prefix, or one could move to other files with the arrow keys. Pressing Ctrl-Enter would then paste the highlighted file into the command line.

While this is not exactly tab-completion, in practice it was very very similar. So I guess that would count as a third-party utility.

It wasn't uncommon to do all file system work completely in Norton Commander anyway (at least that's what I did).

  • 1
    Yes, I did this too. For readers not familiar with NC, it handled a command line too, and could be used like the DOS prompt with a file manager on top. Sep 28 '19 at 14:26

DR-DOS, which was not MS-DOS but which was, by design, largely compatible at many levels, and was a contemporaneous single-user Intel CPU based system operating system, included command-line history and, IIRC, some search/autocomplete functionality. Unfortunately, I don't have any running systems to check the specifics now (well, for many years...). At least the basic command-line history was very nice - having just MS-DOS's one line (F3 - wow, just checked and that still works in the Windows 7 CMD) after learning to program on bigger systems was quite annoying.

  • 5
    Nah. DR-Dos didn't know command line completion.
    – tofro
    Sep 27 '19 at 16:53
  • 5
    I just checked on DR DOS 6 and OpenDOS 7, and they don’t support completion, even with HISTORY set to ON. (They do provide much better line editing than plain MS-DOS, including incremental search through history entries.) Sep 28 '19 at 8:37

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