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PowerShell Cheat Sheet: Commands, Operators, and More for 2022

Posted in PowerShell, Cheat Sheet
PowerShell Cheat Sheet

PowerShell is a useful Windows command-line language version that helps you seamlessly perform and automate critical tasks on your systems. But how can you perform these tasks and make the most of PowerShell on your Windows system?

Don’t worry — we’ve compiled a PowerShell cheat sheet documenting PowerShell syntax and all the PowerShell commands to help you optimize PowerShell and even prepare for job interviews.

Download Our PowerShell Cheat Sheet PDF Here.

PowerShell Cheat Sheet

Let’s start with a quick introduction to Windows 10 PowerShell commands.

PowerShell Basics

PowerShell is a cross-platform and a commonly used task automation solution combining the power of the command-line shell, a scripting language, and a configuration management framework. You can run PowerShell on Windows, Linux, and macOS operating systems. Unlike other available shells that only accept and return data, PowerShell accepts and returns .NET objects.

This shell comes with the following features.

  • Robust command-line history
  • Extensive features, like tab completion and command prediction
  • Command and parameter aliases
  • Pipeline for changing commands
  • In-console help system, like Unix man pages

Considering the features of any scripting language, you can use PowerShell to automate the system management process and task. It lets you build, test, and deploy solutions in CI/CD environments.

PowerShell is built on the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR), which means all the inputs and outputs are .NET objects. You do not have to parse text output to retrieve information from it.

The PowerShell scripting language comes with the following features.

  • Functions, classes, objects, and modules
  • Easy formatting system for providing clear output for enhanced readability
  • Built-in support for different data formats, such as CSV, JSON, and XML
  • Type system for creating dynamic types

Now, let’s get into some useful PowerShell commands.

PowerShell Commands Cheat Sheet

cmdlets

Cmdlets are PowerShell’s internal commands. These cmdlets will return one or more objects to the pipeline where at the end of that pipeline, we mention some properties of the objects in the following table to see their values displayed on the screen.

Command

Description

Get-Help

This command allows you to get support with PowerShell.

Get-PSdrive

This command offers you a list of available PSDrives, such as c, env, hklm, hkcu, alias, etc.

Get-ChildItem

In any registry, children are the subkeys of the current key. To get the required details, you can use the following command.

Get-ChildItem -recurse

Run this command to list all the children recursively of the current PSdrive, folder, or registry key.

Get-ChildItem -rec -force

Use this command To include the hidden folders (directories).

(Get-ChildItem).name or Get-ChildItem -name

Run any of these commands to get the list file and directory names in the current folder.

(Get-ChildItem).count 

Use this command to get the number of entries in the collection of objects returned by the Get-Children.

PSdrives

PSdrives are the collection of entities grouped together so they can be accessed as a filesystem drive. The “PSprovider” does this grouping.

By default, a PS session can access several PSdrives including c:, env:, alias:, and HKLM:, where c: refers to the usual Windows c-drive; env: is the space of Windows environmental variables; alias: is the collection of cmdlet aliases; and HKLM is a hive in the registry.

Any PS session will enter the user’s home folder. If you want to switch from a PS session to another PSdrive and retrieve the information from that drive, consider the following commands:

Commands

Description

Switching to env-

The prompt character will change to the “ENV:\>”. Set-Location env by running the following command:

 

Set-Location env-
Env:\> Get-Childitem

This command will get you all the environment variables.

Env:\> Get-Childitem userprofile

Use this command to get the environment variables of “userprofile.”

Env:\> Set-Location alias:

Run the following command to change the prompt character to “Alias.”

Alias:\> Get-Childitem

Run this command to get all the children of all aliases.

Alias:\> Set-Location C:\

Use this command to get the “C:/>” prompt again, back to the default drive.

C:\Users\user_name>$alias:ls

Run this command to find what alias “ls” stands for.

Pipelines

Cmdlets uses the pipelines to pass the objects but not the character streams like Unix. The pipeline character is | (ASCII 124), followed by a command that handles the output passed through the pipeline. The pipeline consists of the following three stages.

Get-ChildItem *.txt | Where-Object length -lt 1000 | Sort-Object length

The following table highlights some of the basic pipeline commands:

Command

Description

(Get-Item /Users/praashibansal/Desktop).lastwritetime.year

Easily sets the value of the ‘lastwritetime.year’ property to the present date and time without affecting the file’s content.

(Get-ChildItem data.txt.rtf -name).name # -> null

Provides an empty result

"data.txt.rtf" | Rename-Item -NewName "data_new.txt.rtf"

Changes the old file names and file extensions to the new ones

Get-ChildItem data.txt | Rename-Item -new {$_.name}

A trivial renaming command that invokes an automatic variable

Get-ChildItem data.txt.rtf -name | Rename-Item -new {$_.name}

If the piped object $_ doesn't have the member property (name), you will receive an error, as parameter $_.name is null

Get-ChildItem | Select-Object basename | Sort-Object *

Displays the list of the names of all the files that are present in the current folder sorted in alphabetical order.

Move-Item *.txt subdirectory

Moves all the files to the folder subdirectory

Get-ChildItem *.txt | Move-Item ..\

Gives the error message that Move-Item lacks input

Alias

Cmdlets come with several aliases. The following table highlights a few of aliases, along with their descriptions:

Command

Description

Add-Content

Appends value to a file

Get-Content

Finds file content in an array

Set-Location

Changes folder, key, or PS drive

Clear-Host

Clears console

Remove-Item

Delete files

Get-ChildItem -Path .\

Lists Folder, Key, or PSDrive Children

Write-Output

Sends the array to the console, pipeline, or redirect it to the file

Foreach-Object

Traverses each object in a pipeline

Format-Table

Formats the table with selected properties for each object in each column

Format-List

Formats the process properties by name

Get-Alias

Provides Cmdlet Alias

Get-Command

Provides you with commands from the current session only

Get-Member

Retrieves all the object members

Get-ItemProperty .\data.txt | Format-List

Provides the specified item’s properties

Get-ItemPropertyValue -Path '.\data.txt' -Name LastWriteTime

Gives the current value for a specified property while using the name parameter

Get-Variable m*

Finds session variable names and sessions

New-Item -Path .\ -Name "testfile1.txt" -ItemType "file" -Value "This is a text string."

Creates a new file, directory, symbolic link, registry key, or registry entry

Get-Process

Gives the entire list of all the running processes

Get-Location

Provides the current directory’s or registry key’s location

Rename-Item -Path “old_name” -NewName “new_name”

Renames the old item name with the new name

Remove-Item .\testfile1.txt

Removes the specified directory, files, or registry keys

Remove-Variable 

Removes the specified variable

Start-Sleep

Suspends an activity for a specified period of time

Operators

  • Arithmetic Operators

Operator

Description

Example

+

Adds integers; concatenates

6 + 2

 

strings, arrays, and hash tables.

"file" + "name"

@(1, "one") + @(2.0, "two")

@{"one" = 1} + @{"two" = 2}

+

Makes a number out of an object

123

-

Subtracts one value from another

6 - 2

-

Calculates the opposite number

- -6

   

(Get-Date).AddDays(-1)

*

Multiply numbers or copy strings and arrays for a specified number of times

6 * 2

   

@("!") * 4

   

"!" * 3

/

Divides two values

6 / 2

%

Modulus - returns the remainder of a division operation

7 % 2

-band

Bitwise AND

5 -band 3

-bnot

Bitwise NOT

-bnot 5

-bor

Bitwise OR

5 -bor 0x03

-bxor

Bitwise XOR

5 -bxor 3

-shl

Shifts bits to the left

102 -shl 2

-shr

Shifts bits to the right

102 -shr 2

  • Operator Precedence

Precedence

Operator

Description

1

()

Parentheses

2

-

For a negative number or unary operator

3

*, /, %

For multiplication and division

4

+,-

For addition and subtraction

5

-band, -bnot, -bor, -bxor, -shr, and -shl

For bitwise operations

  • Assignment Operators

Operator

Description

=

Sets a variable’s value to the specified value

+=

Increases a variable’s value by the specified value or appends the specified value to the existing value

-=

Decreases a variable’s value by a specified value

*=

Multiplies a variable’s value by a specified value, or appends the specified value to the existing value

/=

Divides a variable’s value by a specified value

%=

Divides the variable’s value by a specified value and then assigns the remainder (modulus) to the variable.

#ERROR!

Increases a variable’s value, assignable property, or array element by 1.

--

Decreases the variable’s value, assignable property, or array element by 1.

  • Comparison Operators

Type

Operator

Comparison test

Equality

-eq

equals

 

-ne

not equals

 

-gt

greater than

 

-ge

greater than or equal

 

-lt

less than

 

-le

less than or equal

Matching

-like

string matches wildcard pattern

 

-notlike

string doesn't match wildcard pattern

 

-match

string matches regex pattern

 

-notmatch

string doesn't match regex pattern

Replacement

-replace

replaces strings matching a regex pattern

Containment

-contains

collection contains a value

 

-notcontains

collection doesn't contain a value

 

-in

value is in a collection

 

-notin

value is not in a collection

Type

-is

both objects are the same type

 

-isnot

objects are not the same type

  • Logical Operators

Operator

Description

Example

-and

Logical AND. TRUE when both statements are true.

(1 -eq 1) -and (1 -eq 2)

 

FALSE

-or

Logical OR. TRUE when either of the statements is TRUE.

(1 -eq 1) -or (1 -eq 2)

TRUE

-xor

Logical EXCLUSIVE OR. TRUE when only one statement is TRUE.

(1 -eq 1) -xor (2 -eq 2)

FALSE

-not

Logical not. Negates the statement that follows.

-not (1 -eq 1)

FLASE

!

Same as -not

!(1 -eq 1)

FALSE

  • Redirection Operator

Operator

Description

Syntax

>

Send specified stream to a file

n>

>>

Append specified stream to a file

n>>

>&1

Redirects the specified stream to the Success stream

n>&1

  • Type Operators

Operator

Description

Example

-isNot

Returns TRUE when the input not an instance of the

specified.NET type.

(get-date) -isNot [DateTime]

FALSE

-as

Converts the input to the specified .NET type.

"5/7/07" -as [DateTime]

Monday, May 7, 2007 00:00:00

Some Other Operators

Operator

Description

() Grouping Operator

Allows you to override operator precedence in expressions

&() Subexpression Operator

Gives you the result of one or more statements

@( ) Array Subexpression Operator

Returns the results of one or more statements in the form of arrays.

& Background Operator

The pipeline before & is executed by this command in a Powershell job.

[] Cast Operator

Converts objects to the specific type.

Regular Expressions

A regular expression is a pattern that is used to match text that includes literal characters, operators, and other constructs. PowerShell regular expressions are case-insensitive by default.

Method

Case Sensitivity

Select-String

use -CaseSensitive switch

switch statement

use the -casesensitive option

operators

prefix with 'c' (-cmatch, -csplit, or -creplace)

  • Character Literals

A regular expression can be a literal character or a string.

  • Character Groups

These allow you to match any number of characters one time, while [^character group] only matches characters NOT in the group.

  • Character Range

A pattern can also be a range of characters. The characters can be alphabetic [A-Z], numeric [0-9], or even ASCII-based [ -~] (all printable characters).

  • Numbers

The \d character class will match any decimal digit. Conversely, \D will match any non-decimal digit.

  • Word Character

The \w character class will match any word character [a-zA-Z_0-9]. To match any non-word character, use \W.

  • Wildcard

The period (.) is a wildcard character in regular expressions. It will match any character except a newline (\n).

  • Whitespace

Whitespace is matched using the \s character class. Any non-whitespace character is matched using \S. Literal space characters ' ' can also be used.

  • Escaping Characters

The backslash (\) is used to escape characters so the regular expression engine doesn’t parse them.

The following characters are reserved: []().\^$|?*+{}.

  • Substitution in Regular Expression.

The regular expressions with the -replace operator allows you to dynamically replace text using captured text.

<input> -replace <original>, <substitute>

Flow Control

  • ForEach-Object

ForEach-Object is a cmdlet that allows you to iterate through items in a pipeline, such as with PowerShell one-liners. ForEach-Object will stream the objects through the pipeline.

Although the Module parameter of Get-Command accepts multiple values that are strings, it will only accept them via pipeline input using the property name, or parameter input.

If you want to pipe two strings by value to Get-Command for use with the Module parameter, use the ForEach-Objectcmdlet:

$ComputerName = 'DC01', 'WEB01'

foreach ($Computer in $ComputerName) {

Get-ADComputer -Identity $Computer

}
  • For

A “for” loop iterates while a specified condition is true.

For example:

for ($i = 1; $i -lt 5; $i++) {

Write-Output "Sleeping for $i seconds"

Start-Sleep -Seconds $i

}

  • Do

There are two different “do” loops in PowerShell. Do Until runs while the specified condition is false.

Example 1:

$number = Get-Random -Minimum 1 -Maximum 10

do {

$guess = Read-Host -Prompt "What's your guess?"

if ($guess -lt $number) {

Write-Output 'Too low!'

}

elseif ($guess -gt $number) {

Write-Output 'Too high!'

}

}

until ($guess -eq $number)

Example 2:

$number = Get-Random -Minimum 1 -Maximum 10

do {

$guess = Read-Host -Prompt "What's your guess?"

if ($guess -lt $number) {

Write-Output 'Too low!'

} elseif ($guess -gt $number) {

Write-Output 'Too high!'

}

}

while ($guess -ne $number)

  • While

Similar to the Do While loop, a While loop runs as long as the specified condition is true. The difference however, is that a While loop evaluates the condition at the top of the loop before any code is run. So, it doesn't run if the condition evaluates to false.

For example:

$date = Get-Date -Date 'November 22'

while ($date.DayOfWeek -ne 'Thursday') {

$date = $date.AddDays(1)

}

Write-Output $date

Variables

PowerShell allows you to store all types of values. For example, it can store command results and command expression elements like names, paths, and settings. Here are some of PowerShell’s different variables.

  • User-created variables: These are created and maintained by the user. The variables you create at the PowerShell command line will only exist until the PowerShell window is open. When you close the PowerShell window, these variables are deleted. If you want to save a variable, you need to add it to your PowerShell profile. You can create variables and declare them with three different scopes: global, script, or local.
  • Automatic variables: These variables store the state of PowerShell and are created by PowerShell. Only PowerShell can change their values as required to maintain accuracy. Users can’t change these variables’ value. For example, the $PSHOME variable will store the path to the PowerShell installation directory.
  • Preference variables: These variables store user preferences for PowerShell and are created by PowerShell. These variables are populated with default values and can be changed by the users. For example, the $MaximumHistoryCount variable specifies the maximum number of entries in the session history.

To create a new variable, you need to use an assignment statement and assign a value to the variable. There is no need to declare the variable before using it. The default value of all variables is $null.

For example:

$MyVariable = 1, 2, 3

$MyVariable

Function

  • Naming Your Function

Use a Pascal case name with an approved verb and a singular noun to name a function. You can get a list of approved verbs by running Get-Verb:

Get-Verb | Sort-Object -Property Verb

  • Creating a Simple Function

Use a function keyword followed by the function name to create a simple function. Then, use an open and closing curly brace. The function will execute code contained within those curly braces.

For example:

function Get-Version {

$PSVersionTable.PSVersion

}

Working with Modules

A module is a package containing PowerShell members, such as cmdlets, providers, functions, workflows, variables, and aliases. You can implement package members in a PowerShell script, a compiled DLL, or both. PowerShell automatically imports the modules the first time you run any command in an installed module. You can use the commands in a module without setting up or profile configuration.

  • How to Use a Module

To use any module, you need to first install them. Then, find the command that comes with the module and use them.

  • Installing a Module

If you get a module as a folder, install it before you use it on the PowerShell command line. Some modules are preinstalled. You can use the following command to create a Modules directory for the current user:

New-Item -Type Directory -Path $HOME\Documents\PowerShell\Modules

Copy the entire module folder into the Modules directory. You can use any method to copy the folder, including Windows Explorer, Cmd.exe, and PowerShell.

  • Finding the Installed Modules

Run the following to find the modules installed in a default module location (not imported).

Get-Module -ListAvailable

  • Finding Commands in a Module

Run the following command to find a module’s commands:

Get-Command -Module <module-name>

Get-Command -Module Microsoft.PowerShell.Archive

  • Importing a Module

Run the following command with the proper module name:

Import-Module <module-name>
  • Removing a Module Name

You can run the following command with the proper module name:

Remove-Module <module-name>
  • View Default Module Locations

Use the following command to view default module locations:

$Env:PSModulePath
  • Add a Default Module Location

You can use the following command format:

$Env:PSModulePath = $Env:PSModulePath + ";<path>"
  • Add a Default Module Location on Linux or MacOS

Use the following to execute the same command as above, only with Linux or macOS:

$Env:PSModulePath += ":<path>"

Hash Tables

A hash table is a complex data structure to store data in the form of key-value pairs. We also refer to a hash table as a dictionary or associative array. To understand a hash table, consider a series of IP addresses and the respective computer names. A hash stores this data in the form of key-value pairs, where IP addresses refer to keys and computer names to their corresponding values.

The hash table syntax is as follows:

@{ <name> = <value>; [<name> = <value> ] ...}

An ordered dictionary’s syntax is as follows:

[ordered]@{ <name> = <value>; [<name> = <value> ] ...}
  • Creating Hash Tables

If you want to create a hash table, follow these steps:

  • Start the hash table with an at sign (@) and enclose it in curly braces ({}).
  • A hash table should contain at least one key-value pair, and hence, enter the data after creating a hash table.
  • Separate key from its value using an equal sign (=).
  • Separate the key/value pairs in a hash table with a semicolon (;).
  • Enclose the space between the keys in quotation marks. Values must be valid PowerShell expressions. Also, enclose strings in quotation marks, even if there are no spaces between them.
  • Save a hash table as a variable to manage it efficiently.
  • When assigning an ordered hash table to a variable, place the [ordered] attribute before the @ symbol. If you place it before the variable name, the command fails.

For example:

$hash = @{}

$hash = @{ Number = 1; Shape = "Square"; Color = "Blue"}

[hashtable]$hash = [ordered]@{

Number = 1; Shape = "Square"; Color = "Blue"}

$hash

  • Adding and Removing Keys and Values

To add keys and values to a hash table, use the following command format:

$hash["<key>"] = "<value>"

For example, you can add a "Time" key with a value of "Now" to the hash table with the following statement format:

$hash["Time"] = "Now"

Or

$hash.Add("Time", "Now")

Or, you can remove the key with this statement format:

$hash.Remove("Time")

Asynchronous Event Handling

These cmdlets allow you to register and unregister event subscriptions and list the existing subscriptions. You can also list pending events and handle or remove them as desired.

PowerShell eventing cmdlets

Eventing Cmdlet name

Description

Register-ObjectEvent

This cmdlet registers an event subscription for events generated by .NET objects

Register-WmiEvent

Registers an event subscription for events generated by WMI objects

Register-EngineEvent

Registers an event subscription for events generated by PowerShell itself

Get-EventSubscriber

Gets a list of the registered event subscriptions in the session

Unregister-Event

Removes one or more of the registered event subscriptions

Wait-Event

Waits for an event to occur. This cmdlet can wait for a specific event or any event. It also allows a timeout to be specified, limiting how long it will wait for the event. The default is to wait forever.

Get-Event

Gets pending unhandled events from the event queue

Remove-Event

Removes a pending event from the event queue

New-Event

This cmdlet is called in a script to allow the script to add its own events to the event queue

Conclusion

Bottom line? A PowerShell cheat sheet is your one-stop-shop for everything related to PowerShell syntax and commands. In this Windows PowerShell commands cheat sheet, we’ve discussed all the basics to help even beginners navigate PowerShell.

Like any other programming language, you can use variables, and operators, create aliases and functions and even maintain flow control.

If you’re preparing for your upcoming interviews, keep this PowerShell 5.0 cheat sheet handy for quick reference with easy examples.

Interested in expanding your knowledge with Windows Command Line?

Check Out Our Windows Command Line Cheat Sheet

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Do I Get a List of PowerShell Commands?

You can use the get-command.

2. How Many PowerShell Commands Are There?

There are over 200 commands in PowerShell.

3. How Do I Learn PowerShell for Beginners?

You might consider using Microsoft’s introductory guide to PowerShell. It includes easy language and simple examples to enhance your understanding.

4. Is Windows PowerShell the Same as Command Prompt?

The following table highlights the major differences between PowerShell and command prompt:

PowerShell

Command Prompt

Introduced in 2006

Introduced in 1981

Works with both batch commands and PowerShell cmdlets

Works only with Batch commands

Allows you to create aliases for cmdlets or scripts

Doesn’t support creating command aliases

Allows you to pass the output from a cmdlet to other cmdlets

doesn't allow you to pass the output from a command to other commands

Output is in the form of an object

Output is just text

Can execute a sequence of cmdlets within a script

Requires one command to finish before another

Has programming libraries, as it’s built on .net framework.

No programming libraries

Seamless integration with WMI

Requires external plugin for WMI interaction

Supports Linux systems

Doesn’t support Linux systems

Runs all program types

Only runs console type programs

5. How Can I Make Command Prompt Default Instead of PowerShell?

Open Settings > Personalization > Taskbar. Now, turn the “Replace Command Prompt with Windows PowerShell'' in the menu when I right-click the Start button, or press Windows key+X” option to “Off”.

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Sameeksha Medewar

Sameeksha Medewar

Sameeksha is a freelance content writer for more than half and a year. She has a hunger to explore and learn new things. She possesses a bachelor's degree in Computer Science. View all posts by the Author

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