The escape character gives the character that follows a special meaning; it has a different purpose than the ASCII ESC that is often used in ANSI X3.64 and printer control sequences.
The default escape character is a caret (^, ASCII: 94).
Ten special characters are recognized when they are preceded by the escape character. The combination of the escape character and one of these characters is translated to a single character, as shown below. The special characters which can follow the escape character are:
|e||the ASCII ESC character (code 27)|
|g||bell (code 7)|
|k||back quote `|
|q||double quote "|
|t||horizontal tab character|
If you follow the escape character with any other character, the escape character is removed and the second character is copied directly into the command line. This allows you to suppress the normal meaning of special characters (such as ? * / \ | " ` > < and &). For example, to display a message containing a > symbol, which normally indicates redirection:
echo 2 is ^> 4
The escape character has an additional use when it is the last character on any line of a batch file. TCC recognizes this use of the escape character to signal line continuation: it removes the escape character and appends the next line to the current line before executing it.
WARNING: Escape characters are considered to be normal characters on the right side of a pipe.
Note: The term escape character has additional usages not related to the above description, as detailed in ASCII, Key Codes and Key Names.