What’s the PowerShell command for…?” This happens to all of us. We’re working on a task and hit that speedbump where we either have forgotten or just don’t know the command to do that thing. This is where it’s very easy to turn to Google or Bing and and start searching. There is an easier way!
Really the issue with search engine results is that they may be incomplete, for a different version of PowerShell, or you just can’t find the answer. Whether it’s not using the right keywords, date constrictions, or whatever, the better way is right in front of you.
You have a PowerShell window open right? That’s why you are looking for commands right? Try this:
That’s nice, but on my machine ( with a few modules installed, granted) I get over 6,500 commands that way!
That’s not helpful without some limiting parameters. I do assume that you have an idea about what you are trying to accomplish. This is where the -noun and -verb parameters come in handy.
Let’s take a random example to walk through: What is the command to determine what services are running on a computer?
Our plain English request has verbs and nouns and PowerShell commands have verbs and nouns.
With a little knowledge of PowerShell structure, it’s pretty easy to work through.
Quick refresh: PowerShell commands (cmdlets) are structured in a “Verb-Noun” syntax.
Of all the verbs in the English language, there are (at this writing) 100 approved verbs. You can see the list at Approved Verbs for PowerShell Commands.
That’s a lot but we can narrow those down pretty quickly by remembering a few things – Common verbs are things like Add, Clear, Close, Copy, Enter, Exit, Find, Get, Hide etc. We recognize ‘Get’ from other things like
GET-COMMAND! ‘Find’ also looks attractive in this case, so let’s have a quick look at that.
PS> Get-command -verb find CommandType Name Version Source ----------- ---- ------- ------ Function Find-Certificate 18.104.22.168 xCertificate Function Find-Command 2.2.5 PowerShellGet Function Find-Command 22.214.171.124 PowerShellGet Function Find-DSCResource 2.2.5 PowerShellGet Function Find-DscResource 126.96.36.199 PowerShellGet Function Find-IpamFreeAddress 188.8.131.52 IpamServer Function Find-IpamFreeRange 184.108.40.206 IpamServer Function Find-IpamFreeSubnet 220.127.116.11 IpamServer Function Find-Module 2.2.5 PowerShellGet Function Find-Module 18.104.22.168 PowerShellGet Function Find-NetIPsecRule 22.214.171.124 NetSecurity Function Find-NetRoute 126.96.36.199 NetTCPIP Function Find-RoleCapability 2.2.5 PowerShellGet Function Find-RoleCapability 188.8.131.52 PowerShellGet Function Find-Script 2.2.5 PowerShellGet Function Find-Script 184.108.40.206 PowerShellGet Cmdlet Find-Package 1.4.7 PackageManagement Cmdlet Find-PackageProvider 1.4.7 PackageManagement
Ok that’s better but none of those seem to have anything to do with services. Let’s come at it from the ‘service’ side. You can list all the command with a certain noun or noun part using the
PS> get-command -noun service CommandType Name Version Source ----------- ---- ------- ------ Cmdlet Get-Service 220.127.116.11 Microsoft.PowerShell.Management Cmdlet New-Service 18.104.22.168 Microsoft.PowerShell.Management Cmdlet Remove-Service 22.214.171.124 Microsoft.PowerShell.Management Cmdlet Restart-Service 126.96.36.199 Microsoft.PowerShell.Management Cmdlet Resume-Service 188.8.131.52 Microsoft.PowerShell.Management Cmdlet Set-Service 184.108.40.206 Microsoft.PowerShell.Management Cmdlet Start-Service 220.127.116.11 Microsoft.PowerShell.Management Cmdlet Stop-Service 18.104.22.168 Microsoft.PowerShell.Management Cmdlet Suspend-Service 22.214.171.124 Microsoft.PowerShell.Management
Aha! That first one
Get-Service looks good! Let’s try that one.
PS> Get-Service Status Name DisplayName ------ ---- ----------- Running AarSvc_11d5ae Agent Activation Runtime_11d5ae Running AdobeARMservice Adobe Acrobat Update Service Running AdobeUpdateService AdobeUpdateService Running AGMService Adobe Genuine Monitor Service Running AGSService Adobe Genuine Software Integrity Serv…
Bingo! Of course I abbreviated that list. There are 299 services on this machine right now. Perhaps we should filter that down a bit. Parameters are a good way to do just that. You can find the parameters using the
PS> get-help get-service NAME Get-Service SYNTAX Get-Service [[-Name] <string>] [-DependentServices] [-RequiredServices] [-Include <string>] [-Exclude <string>] [<CommonParameters>] Get-Service -DisplayName <string> [-DependentServices] [-RequiredServices] [-Include <string>] [-Exclude <string>] [<CommonParameters>] Get-Service [-DependentServices] [-RequiredServices] [-Include <string>] [-Exclude <string>] [-InputObject <ServiceController>] [<CommonParameters>] ALIASES gsv
Let’s say that the service we are interested in is something to do with printers. We can use wildcards in the
-DisplayName parameter to narrow this down
PS > Get-Service -DisplayName *print* Status Name DisplayName ------ ---- ----------- Running DLPWD Dell Printer Status Watcher Running DLSDB Dell Printer Status Database Stopped PrintNotify Printer Extensions and Notifications Stopped PrintWorkflowUser… PrintWorkflow_11d5ae Running Spooler Print Spooler
Of course you can use the PowerShell pipeline to do Where-Object filtering, start/stop/restart the services discovered, but all of that is another story for another time!