What Is an .INI File?

.INI files are plain-text files that contain configuration information. These files are used by Windows and Windows-based applications to save information about your preferences and operating environment. "INI" stands for initialization.

Format of .INI Files

.INI files contain one or more sections. Each section begins with a section name, which is followed by zero or more entries. An entry associates a keyname with a value. The general format is:


Comments can also be included in the file by prefacing the comment with a semicolon (;).

Windows and Windows for Workgroups use several standard .INI files for storing configuration information. These files are WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, PROTOCOL.INI, PROGMAN.INI, CONTROL.INI, WINFILE.INI, MSMAIL.INI, SHARED.INI, and SCHDPLUS.INI. Windows-based programs may also add sections and entries to WIN.INI, and they may add .INI files in the Windows directory.

Editing .INI Files

Because .INI files use only plain text, they can be edited using any text editor or word processor. .INI Master also has a built-in text editor for making corrections in the .INI files you are diagnosing.

Where to Find More

The best .INI file reference to have is Microsoft's Windows for Workgroups Resource Kit. In it you will find detailed explanations for every entry in the standard .INI files.

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