Sleeping in a batch file


When writing a batch file to automate something on a Windows box, I've needed to pause its execution for several seconds (usually in a test/wait loop, waiting for a process to start). At the time, the best solution I could find uses ping (I kid you not) to achieve the desired effect. I've found a better write-up of it here, which describes a callable "wait.bat", implemented as follows:

@ping -n 2 -w 1000 > nul
@ping -n %1% -w 1000> nul

You can then include calls to wait.bat in your own batch file, passing in the number of seconds to sleep.

Apparently the Windows 2003 Resource Kit provides a Unix-like sleep command (at last!). In the meantime, for those of us still using Windows XP, Windows 2000 or (sadly) Windows NT, is there a better way?

I modified the script in the accepted answer, so that it defaults to one second if no arguments are passed on the command line:

import time, sys

time.sleep(float(sys.argv[1]) if len(sys.argv) > 1 else 1)
5/23/2017 11:54:56 AM

Accepted Answer

If you have Python installed, or don't mind installing it (it has other uses too :), just create the following script and add it somewhere in your PATH:

import time, sys


It will allow sub-second pauses (for example, 1.5 sec, 0.1, etc.), should you have such a need. If you want to call it as sleep rather than, then you can add the .PY extension to your PATHEXT environment variable. On Windows XP, you can edit it in:

My Computer → Properties (menu) → Advanced (tab) → Environment Variables (button) → System variables (frame)

UPDATE: The timeout command, available from Windows Vista and onwards should be the command used, as described in another answer to this quiestion.

6/3/2019 8:05:02 AM

The timeout command is available from Windows Vista onwards:

c:\> timeout /?

TIMEOUT [/T] timeout [/NOBREAK]

    This utility accepts a timeout parameter to wait for the specified
    time period (in seconds) or until any key is pressed. It also
    accepts a parameter to ignore the key press.

Parameter List:
    /T        timeout       Specifies the number of seconds to wait.
                            Valid range is -1 to 99999 seconds.

    /NOBREAK                Ignore key presses and wait specified time.

    /?                      Displays this help message.

NOTE: A timeout value of -1 means to wait indefinitely for a key press.

    TIMEOUT /?
    TIMEOUT /T 10
    TIMEOUT /T -1

Note: It does not work with input redirection - trivial example:

C:\>echo 1 | timeout /t 1 /nobreak
ERROR: Input redirection is not supported, exiting the process immediately.

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