MS-DOS Shell Limited to 2000 Tokens (93167)

The information in this article applies to:
    Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 5.0
    Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 5.0a
    Microsoft MS-DOS operating system 6.0

This article was previously published under Q93167


When you start MS-DOS Shell, the DOSSHELL.INI file is read into memory. Each unique item in the DOSSHELL.INI file is stored as a token (there is a 2000 token limit). When this limit is reached, any action that causes MS- DOS Shell to write to the DOSSHELL.INI file (which requires a new token) causes the computer to beep. For example, the computer beeps when you try to add a New Program Object.


A token is a word, a string of text, or a symbol. The following DOSSHELL.INI file entry would be represented in memory by three tokens; one for the word "help," one for the equal sign, and one for the string of text to the right of the equal sign:

help = Starts the MS-DOS command prompt

Once a token has been used to represent a word, string, or symbol, each additional occurrence of the word, string, or symbol does not require an additional token. For example, the following block of text uses 11 tokens:

startup = filemanager
filemanagermode = shared
sortkey = name
pause = disabled
explicitselection = disabled
swapmouse = disabled

Only one token is used to represent each occurrence of the equal sign and one token is used to represent each occurrence of the word "disabled."

What Happens When New Tokens Are Added

The text on the left of the equal sign is usually a common word (such as "sortkey," "pause," "swapmouse," and so on) that is used repeatedly in the DOSSHELL.INI file. Therefore, each new line added to the DOSSHELL.INI file usually requires only one new token for the string to the right of the equal sign.

If you reach the 2000 token limit, you can remove unneeded lines to make room for additional Program Objects or other items.

The following items can usually be removed without significantly impacting your MS-DOS Shell configuration:
    Color schemes you do not use.
    Default program items and groups you don't use.
    Help text (If you don't need or use it).

Modification Type: Major Last Reviewed: 10/15/2003
Keywords: KB93167