relative path

Definition of relative path in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is Relative Path?

The hierarchical path that locates a file or folder on a file system starting from the current directory. The relative path is different from the absolute path, which locates the file or folder starting from the root of the file system.


If the current directory is C:\Windows, the relative path to the executable for the game of Solitaire, which is located in the current directory, is simply the name of the executable - sol.exe. If the current directory is C:\Windows\System, the relative path to Solitaire is ..\sol.exe.

In a UNIX file system, the syntax for relative paths is similar except that it uses forward slashes instead of backslashes to separate levels in the file system hierarchy.


The idea of a “relative path” is also used in other naming contexts. For example, in Active Directory of Microsoft Windows 2000, you can uniquely and globally specify directory objects using the object’s distinguished name, which provides a kind of absolute path within the directory starting at the root and terminating at the desired object. For example, the object representing the user Mitch Tulloch in the domain has this distinguished name:

DC=northwind,OU=Users,CN=Mitch Tulloch

If a search context is established as the Users container within the domain, the relative distinguished name of the Mitch Tulloch object is simply

CN=Mitch Tulloch

This relative distinguished name uniquely identifies the desired object within the Users container in Active Directory.

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