SetCurrentDirectory function (winbase.h)

Changes the current directory for the current process.


BOOL SetCurrentDirectory(
  [in] LPCTSTR lpPathName


[in] lpPathName

The path to the new current directory. This parameter may specify a relative path or a full path. In either case, the full path of the specified directory is calculated and stored as the current directory.

For more info, see Naming files, paths, and namespaces.

By default, the name is limited to MAX_PATH characters.


Starting with Windows 10, Version 1607, you can opt in to remove the MAX_PATH limitation. For details, see the Maximum path length limitation section of Naming files, paths, and namespaces.


Setting a current directory longer than MAX_PATH causes CreateProcessW to fail.

The final character before the null character must be a backslash ('\'). If you don't specify the backslash, then it will be added for you. Therefore, specify >MAX_PATH-2 characters for the path unless you include the trailing backslash; in which case, specify MAX_PATH-1 characters for the path.

Return value

If the function succeeds, then the return value is non-zero.

If the function fails, then the return value is zero. To get extended error information, call GetLastError.


Each process has a single current directory made up of two parts:

  • A disk designator that is either a drive letter followed by a colon, or a server name and share name (\\servername\sharename)
  • A directory on the disk designator

The current directory is shared by all threads of the process: If one thread changes the current directory, it affects all threads in the process.

Multithreaded applications and shared library code should avoid calling the SetCurrentDirectory function due to the risk of affecting relative path calculations being performed by other threads. Conversely,

multithreaded applications and shared library code should avoid using relative paths so that they are unaffected by changes to the current directory performed by other threads.


The current directory for a process is locked while the process is executing. That prevents the directory from being deleted, moved, or renamed.

In Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, this function is supported by the following technologies.

Technology Supported
Server Message Block (SMB) 3.0 protocol Yes
SMB 3.0 Transparent Failover (TFO) Yes
SMB 3.0 with Scale-out File Shares (SO) Yes
Cluster Shared Volume File System (CsvFS) Yes
Resilient File System (ReFS) Yes


For an example, see Changing the current directory.


Requirement Value
Minimum supported client Windows XP [desktop apps | UWP apps]
Minimum supported server Windows Server 2003 [desktop apps | UWP apps]
Target Platform Windows
Header winbase.h (include Windows.h)
Library Kernel32.lib
DLL Kernel32.dll

See also