batch How to sleep for 5 seconds in Windows's Command Prompt?(or DOS)

windows timeout command (24)

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Windows's Snipping tool can capture the screen, but sometimes I want to capture the screen after 5 seconds, such as taking an image being displayed by the webcam. (run the script and smile at the camera, for example).

So in Ruby, I could do something like

sleep 3

but not all computer has Ruby, so how do I do that in a .bat file? (something that is runnable on most PC with Snipping tool).

The problem is that there is no "sleep" usable in a .bat file.

I made this. It is working and show time left in seconds. If you want to use it, add to a batch file:

call wait 10

It was working when I tested it.

Listing of wait.bat (it must be in the working directory or windir/system32/):

@echo off

set SW=00

set SW2=00

set /a Sec=%1-1

set il=00
@echo Wait %1 second
for /f "tokens=1,2,3,4 delims=:," %%A in ("%TIME%") do set /a HH=%%A, MM=1%%B-100, SS=1%%C-100, CC=1%%D-100, TBASE=((HH*60+MM)*60+SS)*100+CC, SW=CC 

set /a TFIN=%TBASE%+%100

for /f "tokens=1,2,3,4 delims=:," %%A in ("%TIME%") do set /a HH=%%A, MM=1%%B-100, SS=1%%C-100, 

CC=1%%D-100, TACTUAL=((HH*60+MM)*60+SS)*100+CC,  SW2=CC

if %SW2% neq %SW% goto notype
if %il%==0 (echo Left %Sec% second & set /a Sec=sec-1 & set /a il=il+1)
goto no0
set /a il=0

if %TACTUAL% lss %TFIN% goto ESPERAR

Two answers:

Firstly, to delay in a batch file, simply without all the obtuse methods people have been proposing:

timeout /t <TimeoutInSeconds> [/nobreak]

Secondly, worth mentioning that while it may not do exactly what you want, using the inbuilt Windows snipping tool, you can trigger a snip on it without using the mouse. Run the snipping tool, escape out of the current snip but leave the tool running, and hit Control + Print Screen when you want the snip to occur. This shouldn't interfere with whatever it is you're trying to snip.

If you've got PowerShell on your system, you can just execute this command:

powershell -command "Start-Sleep -s 5"

Edit: people raised an issue where the amount of time powershell takes to start is significant compared to how long you're trying to wait for. If the accuracy of the wait time is important (ie a second or two extra delay is not acceptable), you can use this approach:

powershell -command "$sleepUntil = [DateTime]::Parse('%date% %time%').AddSeconds(5); $sleepDuration = $sleepUntil.Subtract((get-date)).TotalMilliseconds; start-sleep -m $sleepDuration"

This takes the time when the windows command was issued, and the powershell script sleeps until 5 seconds after that time. So as long as powershell takes less time to start than your sleep duration, this approach will work (it's around 600ms on my machine).

Make a cmd file called sleep.cmd:

REM Usage: SLEEP Time_in_MiliSECONDS
@ECHO off
ping -n 1 -w %1 > nul

Copy sleep.cmd to c:\windows\system32


sleep 500

Sleeps for 0.5 seconds. Arguments in ms. Once copied to System32, can be used everywhere.

EDIT: You should also be away that if the machine isn't connected to a network (say a portable that your using in the subway), the ping trick doesn't really work anymore.

It can be done with two simple lines in a batch file: write a temporary .vbs file in the %temp% folder and call it:

echo WScript.Sleep(5000) >"%temp%\sleep.vbs"
cscript "%temp%\sleep.vbs"

Well this works if you have choice or ping.

@echo off
if "%1"=="" goto askq
if "%1"=="/?" goto help
if /i "%1"=="/h" goto help
if %1 GTR 0 if %1 LEQ 9999 if /i "%2"=="/q" set ans1=%1& goto quiet
if %1 GTR 0 if %1 LEQ 9999 set ans1=%1& goto breakout
if %1 LEQ 0 echo %1 is not a valid number & goto help
if not "%1"=="" echo.&echo "%1" is a bad parameter & goto help
goto end

echo SLEEP runs interactively (by itself) or with parameters (sleep # /q )
echo where # is in seconds, ranges from 1 - 9999
echo Use optional parameter /q to suppress standard output 
echo or type /h or /? for this help file
goto end

set /p ans1=How many seconds to sleep? ^<1-9999^> 
if "%ans1%"=="" goto askq
if %ans1% GTR 0 if %ans1% LEQ 9999 goto breakout
goto askq

choice /n /t %ans1% /d n > nul
if errorlevel 1 ping -n 1 -w %ans1%000 > nul
goto end

choice /n /t %ans1% /d n > nul
if errorlevel 1 ping -n 1 -w %ans1%000 > nul
echo Slept %ans1% second^(s^)


just name it sleep.cmd or sleep.bat and run it

rem *** HACK ALERT: Sleep for 5 seconds ***
ping -n 6 > nul
rem ***************************************
  • Fixed as explained by @Joey

I wrote a powerbasic program wait.exe, where you pass a millisecond parameter to it in your batch file

wait 3000

the code for the EXE:

  c$ = Command$
  s! = Val(c$)*1000
  Sleep s!         

Timeout /t 1 >nul

Is like pause in 1 secound, you can take the limed to almost 100.000 (99.999) secounds. If you are connected to the internet the best solution would be:

ping -n 1 -w 1000 >nul

When you ping you count in milliseconds, so one second would be 1000 milliseconds. But the ping command is a little iffy, it does not work the same way on offline machines. The problem is that the machine gets confused because it is offline, and it would like to ping a website/server/host/ip, but it can't. So i would recommend timeout. Good luck!

This is the latest version of what I am using in practice for a ten second pause to see the output when a script finishes.

BEST>@echo done
BEST>@set DelayInSeconds=10
BEST>@rem Use ping to wait
BEST>@ping -n 1 -w %DelayInSeconds%000 > nul

The echo done allows me to see when the script finished and the ping provides the delay. The extra @ signs mean that I see the "done" text and the waiting occurs without me being distracted by their commands.

I have tried the various solutions given here on an XP machine, since the idea was to have a batch file that would run on a variety of machines, and so I picked the XP machine as the environment likely to be the least capable.

GOOD> ping -n 1 -w 3000 > nul

This seemed to give a three second delay as expected. One ping attempt lasting a specified 3 seconds.

BAD> ping -n 5 > nul

This took around 10 seconds (not 5). My explanation is that there are 5 ping attempts, each about a second apart, making 4 seconds. And each ping attempt probably lasted around a second making an estimated 9 seconds in total.

BAD> timeout 5
BAD> sleep /w2000
BAD> waitfor /T 180
BAD> choice

Commands not available.

BAD> ping -n 1 -w 10000 > nul :: wait 10000 milliseconds, ie 10 secs

I tried the above too, after reading that comments could be added to BAT files by using two consecutive colons. However the software returned almost instantly. Putting the comment on its own line before the ping worked fine.

GOOD> :: wait 10000 milliseconds, ie 10 secs
GOOD> ping -n 1 -w 10000 > nul

To understand better what ping does in practice, I ran

ping -n 5 -w 5000

This took around 30 seconds, even though 5*5=25. My explanation is that there are 5 ping attempts each lasting 5 seconds, but there is about a 1 second time delay between ping attempts: there is after all little reason to expect a different result if you ping again immediately and it is better to give a network a little time to recover from whatever problem it has had.

Edit: stolen from another post, .. RFC 3330 says the IP address should not appear on the internet, so pinging this address prevents these tests spamming anyone! I have modified the text above accordingly!

By using "ping" the -n will determine the timeout only when there is no response to the ping. Check out this post about implementing DELAY as a batch file.

DELAY command implemented as a Batch File

I could just copy-paste the important bits, but the whole post is quite useful.

One hack is to (mis)use the ping command:

ping -n 6 > nul


  • ping is a system utility that sends ping requests. ping is available on all versions of Windows.
  • is the IP address of localhost. This IP address is guaranteed to always resolve, be reachable, and immediately respond to pings.
  • -n 6 specifies that there are to be 6 pings. There is a 1s delay between each ping, so for a 5s delay you need to send 6 pings.
  • > nul suppress the output of ping, by redirecting it to nul.

ping waits for about 5 seconds before timing out, not 1 second as was stated above. That is, unless you tell it to only wait for 1 second before timing out.

ping -n 1 -w 1000

will ping once, wait only 1 second (1000 ms) for a response, then time out.

So an approximately 20-second delay would be:

ping -n 20 -w 1000

I use the following method entirely based on Windows XP capabilities to do a delay in a batch file:


REM DELAY seconds

FOR /F "TOKENS=1-3 DELIMS=:." %%A IN ("%TIME%") DO SET /A H=%%A, M=1%%B%%100,     S=1%%C%%100, ENDING=(H*60+M)*60+S+%1

FOR /F "TOKENS=1-3 DELIMS=:." %%A IN ("%TIME%") DO SET /A H=%%A, M=1%%B%%100, S=1%%C%%100, CURRENT=(H*60+M)*60+S

You may also insert the day in the calculation so the method also works when the delay interval pass over midnight.

Can't we do waitfor /T 180?

waitfor /T 180 pause will result in "ERROR: Timed out waiting for 'pause'."

waitfor /T 180 pause >nul will sweep that "error" under the rug

The waitfor command should be there in Windows OS after Win95

In the past I've downloaded a executable named sleep that will work on the command line after you put it in your path.

For example: sleep shutdown -r -f /m \\yourmachine although shutdown now has -t option built in

Try the Choice command. It's been around since MSDOS 6.0, and should do the trick.

Use the /T parameter to specify the timeout in seconds and the /D parameter to specify the default selection and ignore then selected choice.

The one thing that might be an issue is if the user types one of the choice characters before the timeout period elapses. A partial work-around is to obfuscate the situation -- use the /N argument to hide the list of valid choices and only have 1 character in the set of choices so it will be less likely that the user will type a valid choice before the timeout expires.

Below is the help text on Windows Vista. I think it is the same on XP, but look at the help text on an XP computer to verify.


CHOICE [/C choices] [/N] [/CS] [/T timeout /D choice] [/M text]

    This tool allows users to select one item from a list
    of choices and returns the index of the selected choice.

Parameter List:
   /C    choices       Specifies the list of choices to be created.
                       Default list is "YN".

   /N                  Hides the list of choices in the prompt.
                       The message before the prompt is displayed
                       and the choices are still enabled.

   /CS                 Enables case-sensitive choices to be selected.
                       By default, the utility is case-insensitive.

   /T    timeout       The number of seconds to pause before a default
                       choice is made. Acceptable values are from 0 to
                       9999. If 0 is specified, there will be no pause
                       and the default choice is selected.

   /D    choice        Specifies the default choice after nnnn seconds.
                       Character must be in the set of choices specified
                       by /C option and must also specify nnnn with /T.

   /M    text          Specifies the message to be displayed before
                       the prompt. If not specified, the utility
                       displays only a prompt.

   /?                  Displays this help message.

   The ERRORLEVEL environment variable is set to the index of the
   key that was selected from the set of choices. The first choice
   listed returns a value of 1, the second a value of 2, and so on.
   If the user presses a key that is not a valid choice, the tool
   sounds a warning beep. If tool detects an error condition,
   it returns an ERRORLEVEL value of 255. If the user presses
   CTRL+BREAK or CTRL+C, the tool returns an ERRORLEVEL value
   of 0. When you use ERRORLEVEL parameters in a batch program, list
   them in decreasing order.

   CHOICE /?
   CHOICE /C YNC /M "Press Y for Yes, N for No or C for Cancel."
   CHOICE /T 10 /C ync /CS /D y
   CHOICE /C ab /M "Select a for option 1 and b for option 2."
   CHOICE /C ab /N /M "Select a for option 1 and b for option 2."

two more ways that should work on everything from XP and above:

with w32tm

w32tm /stripchart /computer:localhost /period:5 /dataonly /samples:2  1>nul 

wtih typeperf:

typeperf "\System\Processor Queue Length" -si 5 -sc 1 >nul

You can use VBScript, for example, file myscript.vbs:

set wsobject = wscript.createobject("")

do while 1=1 "SnippingTool.exe",0,TRUE
    wscript.sleep 3000

Batch file:

cscript myscript.vbs %1

This should do the trick: choice /T 5 /N /D Y

Replace the 5 with the time in seconds you want to wait...

An improvement of the code proposed by the user Aacini, It has resolution of hundredths of a second and does not fail when the time reaches 23:59:59,99:

for /f "tokens=1,2,3,4 delims=:," %%A in ("%TIME%") do set /a HH=%%A, MM=1%%B-100, SS=1%%C-100, CC=1%%D-100, TBASE=((HH*60+MM)*60+SS)*100+CC

:: Example delay 1 seg.
set /a TFIN=%TBASE%+100

for /f "tokens=1,2,3,4 delims=:," %%A in ("%TIME%") do set /a HH=%%A, MM=1%%B-100, SS=1%%C-100, CC=1%%D-100, TACTUAL=((HH*60+MM)*60+SS)*100+CC

if %TACTUAL% lss %TFIN% goto ESPERAR

On newer Windows OS versions you can use the command

sleep /w2000

in a DOS script (.cmd or .bat) to wait for 2s (2000 ms - substitute the time in ms you need). Be careful to include the /w argument - without it the whole computer is put to sleep! You can use -m instead of /m if you wish and optionally a colon (:) between the w and the number.

You can make it with timeout:

This will be visible: timeout 5

This will not be visible timeout 5 >nul

I think the following command can help:

pause 5

The syntax of the pause command is: pause d \\where d represents the duration in seconds

I am using Windows 7 (32 bit), but I don't know about the others.