1) In a computer operating system, a path is the route through a file system to a particular file. A pathname (or path name) is the specification of that path. Each operating system has its own format for specifying a pathname. The DOS, Windows, and OS/2 operating systems use this format:


Windows uses the term folder instead of directory.

In UNIX-based systems, the format is:


In UNIX, the storage drive location is not an explicit part of the path name (and UNIX systems usually use two words for path name).

In all operating systems, an absolute pathname (or fully qualified path name) specifies the complete path name. A relative pathname specifies a path relative to the directory to which the operating system is currently set.

The World Wide Web's HTTP program uses a pathname as part of a Uniform Resource Locator (URL).

2) In a network, a path is a route between any two points or node.

3) In a number of products or applications, a path is a route to or between points within a given organized structure.

4) In IBM's Virtual Telecommunication Access Method (VTAM), a path identifies a particular dial-out port.

This was last updated in April 2007

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