QB64 is a modern extended BASIC programming language that retains QBasic/QuickBASIC 4.5 compatibility and compiles native binaries for Windows, Linux, and macOS.

The SHELL statement allows a program to run external programs or command line statements in Windows, macOS and Linux.


SHELL [DOSCommand$]





When working with file or folder names with spaces, add quotation marks around the path and/or file name with CHR$(34).

SHELL _HIDE "dir " + CHR$(34) + "free cell.ico" + CHR$(34) + " /b > temp.dir" 
SHELL "start Notepad temp.dir" ' display temp file contents in Notepad window 

Contents of temp.dir text file:

Free Cell.ico

Opening a Windows program (Notepad) to read or print a Basic created text file.

INPUT "Enter a file name to read in Notepad: ", filename$
SHELL "CMD /C start /max notepad " + filename$  ' display in Notepad full screen in XP or NT   

'SHELL "start /min notepad /p " + filename$ ' taskbar print using QB64 CMD /C not necessary

Explanation: Notepad is an easy program to open in Windows as no path is needed. Windows NT computers, including XP, use CMD /C where older versions of DOS don’t require any command reference. The top command opens Notepad in a normal window for a user to view the file. They can use Notepad to print it. The second command places Notepad file in the task-bar and prints it automatically. The filename variable is added by the program using proper spacing.

Function that returns the program’s current working path.

 currentpath$ = Path$ ' function call saves a path for later program use
 PRINT currentpath$

 FUNCTION Path$   
   SHELL _HIDE "CD > D0S-DATA.INF"   'code to hide window in **QB64**
   OPEN "D0S-DATA.INF" FOR APPEND AS #1  'this may create the file
        L% = LOF(1)          'verify that file and data exist
   CLOSE #1   
   IF L% THEN                       'read file if it has data
     LINE INPUT #1, line$           'read only line in file
     Path$ = line$ + "\"            'add slash to path so only a filename needs added later
     CLOSE #1
   ELSE : Path = ""                 'returns zero length string if path not found
   KILL "D0S-DATA.INF"              'deleting the file is optional

Explanation: The SHELL “CD” statement requests the current working path. This info is normally printed to the screen, but the > pipe character sends the information to the DOS-DATA.INF file instead(QB64 can use _HIDE to not display the DOS window). The function uses the OPEN FOR APPEND mode to check for the file and the data(INPUT (file mode) would create an error if file does not exist). The current path is listed on one line of the file. The file is opened and LINE INPUT (file statement) returns one line of the file text. The function adds a “" so that the Path$ returned can be used in another file statement by just adding a file name. Save the Path$ to another variable for later use when the program has moved to another directory. In QB64 you can simply use the _CWD$ statement for the same purpose of the example above.

Determining if a drive or path exists. Cannot use with a file name specification.

LINE INPUT "Enter a drive or path (no file name): ", DirPath$
IF PathExist%(DirPath$) THEN PRINT "Drive Path exists!" ELSE PRINT "Drive Path does not exist!"

FUNCTION PathExist% (Path$)
  PathExist% = 0
  IF LEN(Path$) = 0 THEN EXIT FUNCTION 'no entry
  SHELL _HIDE CMD$ + "If Exist " + Path$ + "\nul echo yes > D0S-DATA.INF"
  IF LOF(1) THEN PathExist% = -1             'yes will be in file if path exists
  CLOSE #1
  KILL "D0S-DATA.INF"               'delete data file optional

Explanation: IF Exist checks for the drive path. \Nul allows an empty folder at end of path. Echo prints yes in the file if it exists. In QB64 you can simply use the _FILEEXISTS statement for the same purpose of the example above.

Snippet 1: When looking for printers this command gives you a file list with the default printer marked as TRUE:

SHELL _HIDE "CMD /C" + "wmic printer get name,default > default.txt"

Created file’s text:

Default  Name                           
  FALSE    Microsoft XPS Document Writer 
  TRUE     HP Photosmart C7200 series     
  FALSE    HP Officejet Pro 8600         
  FALSE    Fax

Explanation: LINE INPUT could be used to find the printer names as STRING variables.

Snippet 2: Here is the code to set the default printer to the “HP Officejet Pro 8600”:

SHELL _HIDE "CMD /C" + "wmic printer where name='HP Officejet Pro 8600' call setdefaultprinter"

After executing this program, and then running the first snippet again, we see the following contents of the text file:

Default  Name 
  FALSE    Microsoft XPS Document Writer 
  FALSE    HP Photosmart C7200 series     
  TRUE     HP Officejet Pro 8600         
  FALSE    Fax

More examples

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See Also

Extra reference