Purpose:Create, modify, or delete file and subdirectory descriptions


Format:Creating or modifying descriptions

DESCRIBE [ranges... /I"text"] [/A:atrlst /O:[-]adegnrstu] [@file] file [[/D]"description"] ] ...]


Description file updating

DESCRIBE /U [[d:\path\descript.ion] ...]]


fileThe file or files to operate on.
@fileA text file containing the names of the files to describe, one per line (see @file lists for details).
"description"The description to attach to the file.


/A:  (Attribute select)

/O:... (Order)

/D(escription follows)

/U(pdate) descriptions file

/I (match description)



See also: @DESCRIPT, DIR, and SELECT


File Selection


Supports command dialog, attribute switches, extended wildcards, ranges, multiple file names, and include lists. Use wildcards with caution on LFN volumes; see LFN File Searches for details.




DESCRIBE adds descriptions to files and subdirectories. (Volume root directories cannot have descriptions.) The descriptions are displayed by DIR in single-column mode and by SELECT, and can be retrieved using the @DESCRIPT function. Descriptions let you identify your files in much more meaningful ways than you can in a filename alone.


If you don't specify any arguments, DESCRIBE will display its command dialog.


You enter a description on the command line by typing the DESCRIBE, the filename, and the description in double quotes, like this:


describe memo.txt "Memo to Bob about party"


If you don't put a description on the command line, DESCRIBE will prompt you for it:


describe memo.txt

Describe "memo.txt" : Memo to Bob about party


If you use wildcards or multiple filenames with the DESCRIBE command and don't include the description text, you will be prompted to enter a description for each file. If you do include the description on the command line, all matching files will be given the same description.


When you use DESCRIBE on an LFN drive, you must quote file if it contains white space or special characters.


If you enter a quoted description on the command line, and the text matches the name of a file in the current directory, TCC will treat the string as a quoted file name, not as description text as you intended. To resolve this problem use the /D switch immediately prior to the quoted description (with no intervening spaces). For example, if the current directory contains the files DATA.TST and "Test File", the first of these commands will work as intended, but the second will not (in the second example the string "test file" will be treated as a second file name, when it is intended to be description text):


describe data.tst /D"test file"        correct command

describe data.tst "test file"        incorrect command


On LFN drives you will not see file descriptions in a normal DIR display, because DIR must leave space for the long filenames. To view the descriptions, use DIR /Z to display the directory in FAT format. See DIR for more details.


Each description can be up to 511 characters long. You can change this limit with the Maximum Length configuration option. In order to fit your descriptions on a single line in a standard DIR display, keep them to 40 characters or less (longer descriptions are wrapped in the DIR output). DESCRIBE can edit descriptions longer than Maximum Length (up to a limit of 511 characters), but will not allow you to lengthen the existing text.


The descriptions are stored either in the NTFS SummaryInformation stream (if you have set the NTFS Descriptions configurtion option), or in each directory in a hidden file called DESCRIPT.ION. Use the ATTRIB command to remove the hidden attribute from this file if you need to copy or delete it. DESCRIPT.ION is always created as a hidden file, but will not be rehidden by TCC if you remove the hidden attribute.


You can change the description file name with the Description Filename configuration option or the SETDOS /D command, and retrieve it with the %_DNAME internal variable. Use caution when changing the description file name, as changing the name from the default will make it difficult to transfer file descriptions to another system.


The description file is modified appropriately whenever you perform an internal command which affects it (such as COPY, MOVE, DEL, or RENAME), but not if you use an external program (such as XCOPY or Explorer). You can disable description processing with the Enable Descriptions configuration option, or with SETDOS /D.


When you COPY, MOVE or REN files between two directories, both of which have descriptions, and you use switches which enable processing of hidden files (or you have removed the hidden attribute from DESCRIPT.ION), you must use caution to avoid overwriting existing file descriptions in the destination directory with the DESCRIPT.ION file from the source directory. See the notes under the Advanced Features sections of COPY and MOVE for additional details.


If you disable descriptions with the SETDOS /D0 option, DESCRIBE will return with an error message.




/=Display the DESCRIBE command dialog to help you set the filename and command line options. You cannot specify any other arguments on the command line.


/A:Select only those files that have the specified attribute(s) set. See Attribute Switches for information on the attributes which can follow /A:. Do not use /A: with @file lists. See @file lists for details.


You can specify /A:= to display a dialog to help you set individual attributes.



The quoted string following the /D switch without any separation is used as a description, not a file name, avoiding ambiguity in the meaning of quoted strings. See the Usage section above for details.



Select files by matching text in their descriptions. The text can include wildcards and extended wildcards. The search text must be enclosed in double quotes, and must follow the /I immediately, with no intervening spaces. You can select all filenames that have a description with /I"[?]*", or all filenames that do not have a description with /I"[]". Do not use /I with @file lists. See @file lists for details.


/O:...Sort the files before processing. You may use any combination of the sorting options below. If multiple options are used, the listing will be sorted with the first sort option as the primary key, the next as the secondary key, and so on:


nSort by filename and extension, unless e is explicitly included. This is the default.
-Reverse the sort order for the next sort key
aSort names and extensions in standard ASCII order, instead of numerically when numeric substrings are included in the name or extension.
dSort by date and time (oldest first); also see /T:acw
eSort by extension
gGroup subdirectories first, then files
rReverse the sort order for all options
sSort by size
tSame as d


/UUpdate the DESCRIPT.ION file (or the file specified by the Description Filename configuration option), deleting the entries for any nonexistent files. If no filename is supplied, DESCRIBE will process DESCRIPT.ION in the current directory. Otherwise, DESCRIBE will process DESCRIPT.ION in the specified path(s). This option may not be used in conjunction with other DESCRIBE options.