Clearing the screen in PowerShell

A quick snippet for some newbie PowerShell developers whilst they start getting their teeth into the ISE is there are two easy ways of clearing the screen. I ahdnt thought about sharing this information but I saw a developer simply closing the ISE so that he could start afresh. I asked him why and he didn’t know any other way and hadn’t spent any time exploring the ISE or learning many PowerShell commands.

If you ever have a screen which you want to clear like below.

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You can either type cls which will clear the screen or if you forget that syntax use the clear console pane button highlighted below.

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Opening PowerShell Help in a window

Have you ever wanted to be able to easily read through the help system in PowerShell? Wanted to take advantage of your second screen whilst developing in PowerShell? Well I am going to show you how.

Whenever I have used PowerShell I had a love-hate relationship with the help system. Whilst it helps me out a lot by making it easy to understand and use PowerShell commands it also is a pain having to scroll up and down to understand the syntax and go through the notes.

However, I Just found an excellent new feature ( at least to me ) which opens PowerShell into another window using the PowerShell command –ShowWindow which is in the example  below.

help Get-Host –ShowWindow

That then opens the below screen which is a much more user friendly Help box.

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Update the PowerShell Help System

Have you ever wondered how to update the PowerShell help system? Wondered how to update it more than once in a 24 hour period? Needed to update the help file of a system not connected to the internet? Well I am going to show you how.

Whenever I jump onto any new server the first thing I do is check what PowerShell version is on the box via $psversiontable or Get-Host. Then I usually would ask the Windows Admins to upgrade to the latest version.

The second thing which I do is update the Help system. In version 2.0 this involves downloading the latest Help file. In PowerShell 3.0 they have made it super easy and all you have to do is run the command update-help

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You will then get the below screen running whilst update runs.

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This can be run once every 24 hours but if you do have a need to update more frequently you will need to run the below command.

update-help –Force

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Whilst this seems easy this is only good for those Servers which are connected to the internet. If you are looking to do it on a Server which is not connected to the internet then you will need to use the save-help command. This saves a copy of the help file which can be copied to other servers.

Save-Help -Force -DestinationPath C:\PS

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Please note I only used the -Force command for illustration purposes as I wanted to do the update more than twice in a 24 hour period for the purposes of this article.

What is PowerShell?

Have you ever wondered what PowerShell is? Whys its important? Well I will briefly explain why and why I am learning it.

PowerShell is Microsoft’s scripting language which allows configuration changes and automation of SQL Server, Sharepoint, System Centre, Windows AZURE, Windows Server, Windows 8…. In time we shall see the tentacles of PowerShell spread through all of Microsoft’s products and will be deeply embedded.

We are currently on version 4.0 which is supported by Windows 7+ and Windows Server 2008 R2+ and ships by default with Windows 8.1 and with Windows Server 2012 R2.

In my opinion Microsoft sees PowerShell help it compete with Linux & Unix administrators who have long become expert scripters in automating  repetitive tasks, creating batches to make tasks less complex and help remove the possibility of human errors. The great GUIs created by Microsoft have made it simple in the past to do a lot of tasks and allows someone to get up to speed with a lot tasks but ongoing I expect that increasingly the GUIs will not keep up with software development and instead many features will only be accessible and configurable by PowerShell.

That is why I am increasingly investing my time to learn and use PowerShell so that I can be ahead of the curve and ensure that I can use new technologies as they emerge.

Find what version of PowerShell is installed.

Have you ever wondered what PowerShell version your machine was running? Needed to quickly check the PowerShell version to see whether it had successfully upgraded?  Well I am going to show you how.

Today I was on one of my creaky old SQL Servers  when I started doing some inventory checks to see what level the SQL 2000 and Windows Server 2003 were patched to and do some other inventory checks . Usually I would use some PowerShell scripts but as this Server exists in an old secured environment I could not us them and wondered whether it would be worth going through the motion of getting the scripts screened and approved. Before that I thought I should at least check what version of PowerShell was on the box and having never used PowerShell with Server 2003 or SQL 2000 thought this would be a good bit of fun.

I saw the PowerShell icon and felt uplifted and started it. I then typed $psversiontable and got an error. I had no access to google so it took me a few minutes to remember that the command ‘get-host’ had the information required.  When it returned version 1.0 I decided to just stick with the current methods as I didn’t think it would be worth my time checking if my scripts would work in 1.0 when everything I had developed on version 2.0 and higher.

So in the future I would recommend using either of the two below commands to get the version number.

Get-host

$psversiontable

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Powershell and my first script for Hello World.

It has become a repeated custom that whenever a person is learning a new programming language that they begin with the Hello World program. This is quite simply a rite of passage and a welcome milestone so I started here and have put the script below.


$strString = "Hello World"

write-host $strString

Hopefully in the next few weeks I will be sharing more PowerShell secrets so that everyone can learn a bit more PowerShell.