🌻 📖 spaceless


spaceless - Remove spaces and other hazards from your PATH


version 0.08


Convert PATH (by default):

 cygwin% spaceless
 export PATH

Convert another PATH style environment variable

 cygwin% spaceless PERL5LIB
 export PERL5LIB

Update the PATH in the current shell (works with both sh and csh):

 cygwin% eval `spaceless PATH`

Same thing from cmd.exe or command.com prompt:

 C:\> spaceless PATH -f path.bat
 C:\> path.bat


Although legal in most modern operating system directory names, spaces are only frequently encountered in Windows. This can be troublesome for some tools that do not take such antics into account. Fortunately, Windows provides alternate file and directory names for any name that is not compatible with MS DOS. Since spaces were never supported by MS DOS we can use these alternate names for tools that don't take spaces into account.

spaceless converts PATH style environment variables on windows into equivalents that do not have spaces. By default it uses Shell::Guess to make a reasonable guess as to the shell you are currently using (not your login shell). You may alternately specify a specific shell type using one of the options below.

spaceless will not convert long directory (non 8.3 format) names that do not have spaces, as these are usually handled gracefully by scripts that are space challenged.



Generate cmd.exe configuration


Generate command.com configuration


Generate c shell configuration

-f filename

Write configuration to filename instead of standard output

--expand | -x

Expand short paths to long paths (adding any spaces that may be back in)


Generate fish shell configuration


Print help message and exit


Generate korn shell configuration

--list | -l

Instead of generating a shell configuration, list the directories in the given path style variable


Use the your default login shell (as determined by Shell::Guess) On Unix style systems this consults the GECOS field in the /etc/passwd file or uses NIS. On other platforms it may use another means to determine your login shell, or simply make an informed guess based on the platform.


Remove any cygwin paths. Has no affect on non cygwin platforms.


Generate Power shell configuration


Generate bourne shell configuration

--sep char | --sep-in char | --sep-out char

You can use these options to change the path separator character. Normally you do not need to set this. the Platform default is used for input (: for Unix and cygwin, and ; for Windows) and the shell default is used for output (: for sh and csh, and ; for command.com and cmd.exe). But in some situation you might want a UNIX style path in a cmd.exe script. Any character may be specified, but keep in mind that not all characters are supported by Shell::Config::Generate.

--squash | -s

Remove duplicate paths from the given path style variable.

--trim | -t

Trim non-existing directories. This is a good idea since such directories can sometimes cause spaceless to die.

--version | v

Print version number and exit


Removing spaces from the PATH on Cygwin

My motivation for writing this script was trying to get perlbrew to work on Cygwin. Since Windows frequently includes spaces in its %PATH% environment variable, and cygwin inherits them.

 xian-x86_64% source ~/perl5/perlbrew/etc/cshrc
 setenv: Too many arguments.
 xian-x86_64% eval `spaceless PATH`
 xian-x86_64% source ~/perl5/perlbrew/etc/cshrc

I could have manually updated my %PATH% to not include spaces, or better yet submitted a patch to perlbrew to fix its spacing problem. This probably won't be the last script that I will have the spaces in the %PATH% problem with.

Visualizing the PATH

Reading the %PATH% variable can be difficult, especially if you have already removed the spaces and are using the short version.

 C:\> echo %PATH%

You can use the -l (short for --list) and -x (short for --expand) options to make it a little more readable

 C:\> spaceless -l -x
 C:\Program Files (x86)\NVIDIA Corporation\PhysX\Common

Remove duplicate directories in the path

You can use the -s (short for --squeeze) option to squeeze out duplicate paths. It keeps the first instance of a directory in a path style variable, which is usually what you want.

 % spaceless -l
 % spaceless -s -l

You can then update the PATH with the eval trick:

 % eval `spaceless -s`


Short names with the 8.3 spaceless naming convention can be turned off using tweaks to the windows registry (see https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc959352.aspx). This program would not be of much use on such a system.


Graham Ollis <plicease@cpan.org>


This software is copyright (c) 2014 by Graham Ollis.

This is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as the Perl 5 programming language system itself.