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"\" ASCII code 92. Common names: escape (from C/Unix); reverse slash; slosh; backslant; backwhack. Rare: bash; ITU-T: reverse slant; reversed virgule; INTERCAL: backslat.

Backslash is used to separate components in MS-DOS pathnames, and to introduce special character sequence in C and Unix strings, e.g. "\n" for newline.


The symbol (\) used as a separator between folder and file names in DOS and Windows. For example, the path to the Windows version of this encyclopedia is c:\"program files"\CDEweb\CDEweb.exe, which points to the CDEweb.exe file in the CDEweb folder within the Program Files folder on the C: drive.

An Unfortunate, Confusing Symbol
While the backslash (\) is used in Windows addresses, the forward slash (/) is used in Internet addresses, which are Unix based. In addition, the backslash key is in a non-standard keyboard location.

Windows followed DOS, which was modeled after CP/M, and CP/M used the forward slash for command line parameters without regard to Unix path compatibility (Unix was big iron at the time, and CP/M was for personal computers). Thus we are stuck with two different symbols to separate file and folder names.

Double Backslashes (\\)
Two backslashes are used as a prefix to a server name (hostname). For example, \\a5\c\expenses is the path to the EXPENSES folder on the C: drive on server A5. See UNC, \\, path and forward slash.

Platform     Path to Ovens Folder

 Windows:     \products\kitchen\ovens

 Mac OS X:    /products/kitchen/ovens

              Path to Ovens Page


Three Symbols Separate Names
The Unix-based Mac uses the forward slash, while Windows uses the backslash. Starting with Windows Vista, the Explorer path uses right arrows; however, backslashes must still be used at the command line (see cmd abc's).
References in periodicals archive ?
First you must select the entire database, then depress the ALT or backslash key, select the data pull-down menu, and choose set database.
To use the formula define name command, depress the ALT or backslash key, select the formula pulldown menu, and choose define name.
To use the data form command, gain access to the menu bar by depressing the ALT or backslash key, select the data pull-down menu, and choose data form.
To copy the column headings, select them and then depress the ALT or backslash key to gain access to the menu bar.
To use this command, select the criteria range, depress the ALT or backslash key, select data, and choose set criteria.