By Delia / Last update March 8, 2022

An environment variable is a dynamically specified value that contains details such as the operating system path, the number of processors used by the operating system, and the location of temporary files. It is an essential tool for running system programs, Windows 11 users also need to configure environment variables in time to make programs and processes that need different settings run properly.

In this article, we will explain how to add, change and delete environment variables properly.

windows 11

How to set environment variables

In order to use and set environment variables, we need to obtain system administrator privileges and then follow these steps.

1. Press "Windows + R" to open the Run window, type "sysdm.cpl" in the text box and press Enter to open System Properties.

2. Go to the "Advanced" tab and select "Environment Variables".

3. The Environment Variables panel appears on the screen. You can observe two types of variables and set them according to your needs.

environment variables

User variables: Use them when you want to change the environment variables for the current or specific user.

System variables: Use them when you want to make system-wide changes.

How to create or modify user environment variables

If you want to set environment variables for an installed application, let's look at an example of how to set environment variables. You have installed Audacity and want to add its path to the environment variable (EV)

1. Click "New" under User Variables to create an EV.

2. In the New User Variable window that pops up, enter the Variable name.

3. Now, click "Browse Directory" and select the path where the application is installed, then click "OK".

new user variable

You can also modify it again by clicking the "Edit" button.

How to edit Windows Path variables

Path variables are just address books for computer programs and commands. You must provide the address of any new software on the computer that you want to start from the command line interface in the Path variable. As part of the process, Windows will look for the address of a command. When you issue a command from the command line, Windows first looks for it in the current directory. If the operating system does not find it in the current directory, it looks for the address in the Path variable.

If you want to add to the Path variable, you can change it as follows.

1. Click on the Path variable under System Variables and then click on "Edit".

2. Once the Edit environment variable window opens, now click New and add the new path you want to add. You can also edit, reorder, or delete. Then click "OK".

edit windows path variable

You may need to restart your computer to reflect the changes, and the system will ensure that all applications are running this Path change.

Finally, remember that the Path variable is different for each user on the system. Therefore, multiple users can list different folders without having to change the variables for each folder. If you want all users to have access to a tool, you must change the Path variable in the system variables.