How to create a Text file from a directory/folder of files

The other day I was backing up some data on my hard drive using a program called Sonic something. But I got the message "Name too long (106 characters Maximum)". I had to rename a few dozen html files and the directories that they pointed to. There were hundreds of files and folders in the list and I did not want to loose these very discriptive file names, but I could not back them up unless I made the changes. I thought that if I had a text file listing all of the file names, then I would not loose the information. Now the question was "What's the best way to get hundreds of file names into a text file?".

I used to be pretty good at MS DOS (when DOS was all there was) so I tried the commands that I could still remember. I knew that if I used a "dir" command I could get a complete listing of all of the files in a given directory. So I went to DOS by clicking the Start button and clicking Run. Then I typed "cmd" (if I was using Windows 95 or 98 I would have typed "command") and hit enter. By the way I did not type any quotation marks when I was typing that is just to make what I typed stand out in this text. This brought up a DOS window. I typed "dir" and hit Enter (the enter key on the keyboard) and sure enough it listed all of the hundreds of file names.

So, I thought to myself, all I need to do now is copy the text and paste it into an empty document file. Again this is DOS so things are a little than Windows. In Windows XP to highlight the text you have to Right Click and choose "Select All" from the menu and then hit Enter to copy. (In all versions of MS Windows the right mouse button brings up different menu options depending where you click. It will give you one menu if you right click a blank spot on the desk top, a different menu if you right click an , and still different menus in most of your programs. If you have not tried it before, you should really give it a try.) Then paste as usual in Notepad. But when I looked at the list most of it was missing. The list was larger than the memory buffer in the DOS window.

So I dug around in my memory for more for some of the options that went with the dir command, and I remembered "/p" this would let me page through the list one screen at a time. So I went back to the DOS window and typed "dir /p" (remember, if you are doing this too, don't use the " marks) and hit Enter. It listed the first 19 files, so I copyed and pasted them, then I hit Enter to see the next page and repeated the process a dozen times before I hit "Control C" ("Control C" is used in most text editing programs to Copy text.) by mistake. When you hit "Control C" in DOS it means "Quit what you are doing!" which was of course not what I wanted to do. I had to start over, find the place I left off and pick up from there. After doing that a few times I decided that there must be a better way.

I went to the page MSDOS Help and found DOS Command Index but they did not have what I wanted, I finally found what I wanted on the MS website: Using command redirection operators

My goal was a text file. What I needed was a command to copy the directory listing directly to a file with no steps in between. And that is what I found. "dir>filename.txt" where filename stands for the name I wanted the file to be. I actually used the file name dirfile.txt because I thought that it described the file fairly well. If I had wanted a listing of all the files, directories and their subdirectories I would have used the command "dir/s>filename.txt".

After that I just renamed the files and burned them to DVD. I also put a copy of the file on the CD for reference.


How to turn a directory listing into a text file.

Click the Start button in the lower left hand corner of the desk top.

Click Run and then type "cmd" (do not type the quotes) and then hit enter.

Change directories as needed.

Type "dir>filename.txt" (again do not type the quotes) and remember that filename.txt stands for the name of the file you want to create with the directory listing.

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