Some answers to the questions most often asked
regarding the installation of 4DOS, and some tips thrown in:
What is 4DOS?
4DOS is a very powerful and heavy-duty command processor, a replacement for
the rather feeble command.com that typically comes free with your DOS
version. 4DOS runs under any DOS version, be it from MS, DR, IBM, FreeDOS,
PTS-DOS ... and in the socalled DOS window (CLI, VDM, Emulation...) of all
Until August 2004, 4DOS was available only commercially (a specially adapted
version was sold by Symantec as NDOS). Thanks to dwindling sales of
DOS-related programms, 4DOS is now freeware.
4DOS is compatible, too, with the also free 4OS2, with the (commercial,
time-limited testversion available) 4NT and Take Command, a graphical
command line with a standard GUI Interface. These are all products written
by Rex Conn and available at JP Software. Look it up at the
Why should I use 4DOS?
4DOS offers major productivity enhancements to all standard commands like
COPY and DIR, hundreds of new commands, internal variables und functions,
improved command line editing, and dozens of other features for work at the
command prompt, like fast directory changes, command history, comprehensive
commandline sensitive help, colored dir entries, file descriptions and more.
In addition 4DOS provides powerful extensions for those who need to write
batch files, such as full loop control, error handling, block-structured
logic, an integrated batch debugger, and over 200 built-in variables and
In other words: most of your existing tools / utils, each one with its own,
different, often cryptic syntax is probably redundant after switching to
Where do I get 4DOS?
You can download your own freeware 4DOS from
JP Software or the
separate files from their ftp site.
How do I use 4DOS?
Like feeble command.com, but better :-)
4DOS.EXE is a Windows installer file, so to put the 4DOS files into a
directory like C:\4DOS either use the installer or use an unzip utility like
PKUNZIP to extraxt the 4DOS files from 4DOS.EXE. Delete the
installer-specific files (file0001...8.dat). Start 4DOS.COM, hit the F1 key
and follow the instructions under "Starting 4DOS" for your type of system.
If you have a "Command prompt here" on
rightclicking a drive/directory/folder, look up that entry in your registry,
copy and change that entry to gain a "4DOS here" capability.
Under Windows use Explorer (Options - Folders - Filetypes) to set up a BTM
file extension and associate it with the 4DOS.COM executable (btm is the
preferred batch file extension for 4DOS: batches: batch to memory because
4DOS loads the whole batch into memory, command.com only the line currently
executed). Here you can setup an edit option pointing to your favourite
editor, a list option...
Reserve the BAT extension for command.com batch files, BTM for 4DOS batch
files. Many command.com batch files will run unchanged under 4DOS, if none
of those beloved undocumented tricks and whistles are used. 4DOS is mostly
compatible, but not with every MUF of nearly a dozen different command.com
versions. You can still run all your old batch files with a line like
"command.com /c mybatch.bat"
4DOS works well in its default configuration. There are a lot of changes
that can be effected via the 4DOS.INI file or the OPTION command, but leave
that for later till you are a bit more familiar with 4DOS. You can then have
a 4START.BTM with specific sections on different 4DOS behaviour in parent or
child shell, command line or batch, plain DOS or under Windows etc.
4DOS works quite well under NT flavours like WinXP, though it's discouraged
by JP Software, partly because you cannot use the whole power available
under NT, partly because there is commercial 4NT for you...
Corrections and additions welcome.
Another currant 4DOS Installation Guide by
Allenware can be found