Definition of > in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is > (command line symbol)?

A command-line symbol used for redirection that is supported by all versions of Microsoft Windows. Redirection allows you to direct the output of a Windows command to something other than the screen. The > symbol is generally referred to as the redirection symbol.

How It Works

Normally, Windows sends the output of a command to the screen. For example, suppose you open a command prompt on a machine running Windows 2000 Server with Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) installed on it and you type

dir c:\winnt\system32\wins

Graphic 0-1. The screen output of a command such as dir can be redirected to a text file.

The typical output displayed on the screen after executing such a command might be a directory listing such as the one shown in the screen capture. With the redirection symbol, however, such a command output can be redirected to a text file or to a printer. For example, if you enter the command

dir c:\winnt\system32\wins > stuff.txt

the command creates a text file called stuff.txt and sends its output to the file. If the file stuff.txt already exists, it will be overwritten. The contents of the file will look exactly like the output on the screen shown in the illustration. You can then print out the file, send it as an e-mail attachment, or archive it for documentation purposes.


To prevent the output of a command from being displayed on the screen (for example, when running a batch file), redirect the command to nul. For example, in a logon script that synchronizes the clocks of servers with server7, use

net time \\server7 /set /yes > nul

If you want to redirect the output of a series of commands to the same file cumulatively, use the >> symbol to append redirected output to an existing file instead of overwriting it.

The symbol > and his parent < are called angle brackets.