Redirecting Error Messages from Command Prompt: STDERR/STDOUT

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Article ID: 110930 - View products that this article applies to.
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When redirecting output from an application using the ">" symbol, error messages still print to the screen. This is because error messages are often sent to the Standard Error stream instead of the Standard Out stream.

Output from a console (Command Prompt) application or command is often sent to two separate streams. The regular output is sent to Standard Out (STDOUT) and the error messages are sent to Standard Error (STDERR). When you redirect console output using the ">" symbol, you are only redirecting STDOUT. In order to redirect STDERR you have to specify "2>" for the redirection symbol. This selects the second output stream which is STDERR.


The command "dir" (where does not exist) will display the following output:
Volume in drive F is Candy Cane Volume Serial Number is 34EC-0876

File Not Found
If you redirect the output to the NUL device using "dir > nul", you will still see the error message:
File Not Found
To redirect the error message to NUL, use the following command:
   dir 2> nul
Or, you can redirect the output to one place, and the errors to another.
   dir > output.msg 2> output.err
You can print the errors and standard output to a single file by using the "&1" command to redirect the output for STDERR to STDOUT and then sending the output from STDOUT to a file:
   dir 1> output.msg 2>&1


Article ID: 110930 - Last Review: February 20, 2007 - Revision: 3.3
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
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