Replacement Utilities for MS-DOS FORMAT

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Article ID: 81283 - View products that this article applies to.
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Third-party utilities, such as Norton Utilities by Symantec and PC Tools by Central Point Software, give you the option of choosing an alternative method of formatting hard disks and floppy disks.

These utilities rename the FORMAT utility that comes with MS-DOS. If you are using one of these third-party utilities and you invoke the FORMAT command, you are probably formatting with that third-party utility.

To use the MS-DOS FORMAT utility, change to the MS-DOS directory and use the XXFORMAT or FORMAT! command.


Both Norton Utilities version 6.0 and PC Tools version 7.0 open a graphical dialog box that gives you formatting options, in contrast to MS-DOS, where options are text based. Other utilities and versions of these products may or may not produce graphical dialog boxes, but the messages displayed differ from those that MS-DOS displays.

Norton Utilities renames the MS-DOS FORMAT utility to XXFORMAT.*., and PC Tools changes the name to FORMAT!.*. For example, if your version of MS-DOS has a FORMAT.EXE file, it is renamed to XXFORMAT.EXE or FORMAT!.EXE; if you have a FORMAT.COM file, it is renamed to XXFORMAT.COM or FORMAT!.COM.)

If you want all future FORMAT commands to be the MS-DOS version of FORMAT, you can rename it to FORMAT.* from its present name, or retrieve it from the original MS-DOS floppy disk set. Microsoft also recommends that the MS-DOS directory be placed in the path before any other utility, or the alternative (third-party) FORMAT utility may be inadvertently used.

If PC Tools is installed after Norton Utilities, PC Tools also renames the FORMAT utility associated with Norton Utilities, and any other FORMAT program on the hard drive(s) to FORMAT!.*.

The products included here are manufactured by vendors independent of Microsoft; we make no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding these products' performance or reliability.


Article ID: 81283 - Last Review: May 12, 2003 - Revision: 2.0
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 1.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 2.11 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 3.1
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 3.2 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 3.21 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 3.3 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 3.3a
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 4.01 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0a
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.2 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.21 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.22 Standard Edition
Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.

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