system, _wsystem


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Executes a command.


This API cannot be used in applications that execute in the Windows Runtime. For more information, see CRT functions not supported with /ZW.


int system(  
   const char *command   
int _wsystem(  
   const wchar_t *command   


The command to be executed.

Return Value

If command is NULL and the command interpreter is found, returns a nonzero value. If the command interpreter is not found, returns 0 and sets errno to ENOENT. If command is not NULL, system returns the value that is returned by the command interpreter. It returns the value 0 only if the command interpreter returns the value 0. A return value of – 1 indicates an error, and errno is set to one of the following values:

The argument list (which is system-dependent) is too big.

The command interpreter cannot be found.

The command-interpreter file cannot be executed because the format is not valid.

Not enough memory is available to execute command; or available memory has been corrupted; or a non-valid block exists, which indicates that the process that's making the call was not allocated correctly.

See _doserrno, errno, _sys_errlist, and _sys_nerr for more information about these return codes.


The system function passes command to the command interpreter, which executes the string as an operating-system command. system uses the COMSPEC and PATH environment variables to locate the command-interpreter file CMD.exe. If command is NULL, the function just checks whether the command interpreter exists.

You must explicitly flush—by using fflush or _flushall—or close any stream before you call system.

_wsystem is a wide-character version of system; the command argument to _wsystem is a wide-character string. These functions behave identically otherwise.

Generic-Text Routine Mappings

TCHAR.H routine _UNICODE & _MBCS not defined _MBCS defined _UNICODE defined
_tsystem system system _wsystem


Routine Required header
system <process.h> or <stdlib.h>
_wsystem <process.h> or <stdlib.h> or <wchar.h>

For additional compatibility information, see Compatibility.


This example uses system to TYPE a text file.

// crt_system.c  
#include <process.h>  
int main( void )  
   system( "type crt_system.txt" );  

Input: crt_system.txt

Line one.  
Line two.  


Line one.  
Line two.  

.NET Framework Equivalent

See Also

Process and Environment Control
_exec, _wexec Functions
exit, _Exit, _exit
_spawn, _wspawn Functions