PowerShell Community eXtensions (PSCX)

PowerShell Community Extensions (version

Describes the Windows PowerShell Community Extensions (PSCX) module and
how to use the contained cmdlets and functions.

PowerShell Community Extensions is a PowerShell module that provides a
number of widely useful cmdlets. PSCX is not affiliated with Microsoft
or the Windows PowerShell team at Microsoft. We are a few (at the moment)
passionate PowerShell users who wanted more cmdlets than Microsoft was
able to deliver in v1 and v2. So we have taken it upon ourselves to
create some of those cmdlets and make them available to the community.

PSCX 3.0 is compiled against .NET 4.0 and consequently only works on
Windows PowerShell 3.0.

Previous versions of PSCX used global variables to store preference
information and variables created by PSCX functions. Those have been
moved to the PSCX settings provider. PSCX will no longer create any
variables in your global variable scope. All PSCX preference settings
are now specified using the Pscx.UserPreferencs.ps1 file. The file is
located in the root of the PSCX module folder. Its default values
indicate the defaults used if no preference file is specified during
import of the PSCX module. If you want to change any of the defaults,
then copy this file to your home dir, edit it and then import PSCX using
the -ArgumentList to specify the path to your updated
Pscx.UserPreferences.ps1 file e.g.:

Import-Module Pscx -arg ~\Pscx.UserPreferences.ps1

The preference variables and default values are:

ShowModuleLoadDetails = $false # Display module load details during
# Import-Module.

CD_GetChildItem = $false # Display the contents of new provider
# location after using cd (Set-LocationEx).
# Mutually exclusive with
# CD_EchoNewLocation.

CD_EchoNewLocation = $true # Display new provider location after using
# cd (Set-LocationEx).
# Mutually exclusive with CD_GetChildItem.

TextEditor = ‘Notepad.exe’ # Default text editor used by the Edit-File
# function.

PromptTheme = ‘Modern’ # Prompt string and window title updates.
# To enable, first set the ModulesToImport
# setting for Prompt below to $true.
# Then set this value to one of: ‘Modern’,
# ‘WinXP’ or ‘Jachym’.

PageHelpUsingLess = $true # Pscx replaces PowerShell’s More function.
# When this setting is set to $true,
# less.exe is used to page items piped to
# the More function. Less.exe is powerful
# paging app that allows advanced
# navigation and search. Press ‘h’ to
# access help inside less.exe and ‘q’ to
# exit less.exe. Set this setting to $false
# to use more.com for paging.

SmtpFrom = $null # These settings are used by the PSCX
# Send-SmtpMail cmdlet.
SmtpHost = $null # Specify a default SMTP server.
SmtpPort = $null # Specify a default port number. If not
# specified port 25 is used.

FileSizeInUnits = $false # Pscx can prepend format data for the
# display of file information. If this
# value is set to $true, file sizes are
# displayed in using KB,MG,GB and TB units.

To see what cmdlets are provided by PSCX, execute the command:

The current PSCX cmdlets are listed below:

Search for objects in the Active Directory/Global Catalog.

Execute a SQL query against an ADO.NET datasource.

Create an ADO connection to any database supported by .NET on the current
machine. You can enumerate available ADO.NET Data Providers with the
Get-AdoDataProvider Cmdlet.Data connections to supported providers are
constructed using provider-agnostic common parameters like Server,
Username, Password etc.

List all registered ADO.NET Data Providers on the current machine.

Tests for the existence of the specified alternate data stream from an
NTFS file.


Expands a compressed archive file, or ArchiveEntry object, to its
constituent file(s).

Enumerates compressed archives such as 7z or rar, emitting ArchiveEntry
objects representing records in the archive.Read-Archive is used to list
the contents of a compressed archive containing one or more compressed
file(s). The format of the file being read can be overriden with the
Format parameter, for example to enumerate the contents of a
self-extracting archive (EXE).Read-Archive is useful if you wish to
perform filtering using standard pipeline Where-Object and/or
ForEach-Object cmdlets before piping ArchiveEntry objects to

Tests whether or not the specified file is a .NET assembly.

Converts base64 encoded string to byte array.

Converts byte array or specified file contents to base64 string. By
default, this cmdlet inserts line breaks every 76 characters and outputs
the result in a single string. For very large files, you may run into
OutOfMemoryExceptions. In this case, use the -Stream parameter which will
generate multiple string outputs that, combined together, result in the
equivalent base 64 text.

Exports a bitmap object to a specified file format.

Loads bitmap files.

Sets the size of the specified bitmap.

Turns numbers into nicely formatted byte count, using the highest
possible unit.

Create BZIP2 format archive files from pipline or parameter input.

Gets data from the clipboard.

Formats text via Out-String before placing in clipboard. Can also place
string in clipboard as a file.

Puts the specified object into the system clipboard.

Writes objects to the clipboard using their string representation,
bypassing the default PowerShell formatting.

Gets a list of authorized DHCP servers.

Gets all domain controllers at the specified scope.

Gets disk usage information on the system’s disk drives.

Lists the environment blocks stored on the environment block stack.

Pops the environment block and restores the state of all environment
variables to the values stored in the environment block.

Stores the state of all environment variables into an environment block
and pushes that onto the environment block stack.

This implentation efficiently tails the cotents of a file by reading
lines from the end rather then processing the entire file. This behavior
is crucial for efficiently tailing large log files and large log files
over a network. You can also specify the Wait parameter to have the
cmdlet wait and display new content as it is written to the file. Use
Ctrl+C to break out of the wait loop. Note that if an encoding is not
specified, the cmdlet will attempt to auto-detect the encoding by reading
the first character from the file. If no character haven’t been written
to the file yet, the cmdlet will default to using Unicode encoding. You
can override this behavior by explicitly specifying the encoding via the
Encoding parameter.

Sets a file or folder’s created and last accessed/write times.

Attempts to get the FileVersionInfo object for the specified path.
Usually only executable files include file version information.

Returns the hWnd or handle of the window in the foreground on the current
desktop. See also Set-ForegroundWindow.

Given an hWnd or window handle, brings that window to the foreground.
Useful for restoring a window to uppermost after an application which
seizes the foreground is invoked. See also Get-ForegroundWindow

Create GNU ZIP (GZIP) format files from pipeline or parameter input.

Creates filesystem hard links. The hardlink and the target must reside on
the same NTFS volume.

Gets the hash value for the specified file or byte array via the
pipeline. The default hash algorithm is MD5, although you can specify
other algorithms using the -Algorithm parameter (MD5, SHA1, SHA256,
SHA384, SHA512 and RIPEMD160). This cmdlet emits a HashInfo object that
has properties for Path, Algorithm, HashString and Hash.

The Format-Hex command displays the contents of the specified files in
hex format. This cmdlet will also accept pipeline input in the form of a
byte stream. The output can be controlled via various parameters to
indicate the number of columns that should be displayed or alternatively
you can specify the width of the output. The header, address and ASCII
portions of the display can also be turned off individually. The offset
and count can also be specified via parameters to control where in the
input to start displaying and how much to display.

Sends ICMP echo requests to network hosts.

Resolves host names to IP addresses.

Gets an HTTP resource or optionally the headers associated with the

Creates NTFS directory junctions.


Converts the line endings in the specified file to Mac OS9 and earlier
style line endings “\r”. You can convert a single file to a new file
name. Or you can convert multiple files and specify a destination
directory. By default, this cmdlet will overwrite existing files unless
you specify -NoClobber. If you want to force the overwrite of read only
files use the -Force option.


Returns all mount points defined for a specific root path.

Removes a mount point, dismounting the current media if any. If used
against the root of a fixed drive, removes the drive letter assignment.

Purges all messages from a queue

Returns a list of all queues matching the filter parameters

Creates a new queue object with the defined properties

Receives the first message available in the queue. This call is
synchronous, and blocks the current thread of execution and waits until
either a message is available in the queue, or the time-out expires.

Wraps an object in a Message, and places it onto the defined queue.


Skips the specified number of objects at the beginning of a sequence
and/or the end of a sequence.

Get information on optical drive capabilities on the local machine.

Adds the specified paths to the end of the named, path-oriented
environment variable by taking the paths specified by the Value parameter
and concatenating them into a semi-colon separated string. The paths can
be prepended to the environment variable by using the -Prepend switch

Gets the specified path-oriented environment variable and outputs an
array of strings. One string for each path. The environment variable
string is split a semi-colon and you can option specify that empty paths
be removed and unnecessary quotes be removed from each path.

Sets the specified path-oriented environment variable by taking the paths
specified by the Value parameter and concatenating them into a semi-colon
separated string.

The PE header for Windows executables includes various useful bits of
information including the image base address, subsystem, linker version,

Lists privileges held by the session and their current status.

Adjusts privileges associated with a user (identity).

Generates a XML file containing all documentation data.

Gets NTFS reparse point data.

Removes NTFS reparse junctions and symbolic links.


Determines whether a PowerShell script has any syntax errors using the
PowerShell script tokenizer.

Creates shell shortcuts.

Gets the short, 8.3 name for the given path. This cmdlet emits a
ShortPathInfo object that contains a ShortPath property as well as a Path
property which contains the original long path.

Sends email via specified SMTP server to specified recipients. This
cmdlet checks for existence of several preference that if set can make
this cmdlet much easier to use. Those preference variables are: *
$PscxSmtpHostPreference=”smtp.example.net” * $PscxSmtpPortPreference=587
* $PscxSmtpFromPreference=”john_doe@example.net”

Joins an array of strings into a single string.

Splits a single string into an array of strings.

Creates filesystem symbolic links. Requires Microsoft Windows Vista or

Create Tape Archive (TAR) format files from pipeline or parameter input.

Disconnects a specific remote desktop session on a system running
Terminal Services/Remote Desktop

Gets information on terminal services sessions.

Logs off a specific remote desktop session on a system running Terminal
Services/Remote Desktop

Get-TypeName displays the typename of the input object. Normally you
would use Get-Member to determine this but if you are only interested in
the type name this filter produces much less output. Also, since
Get-Member accumulates multiple instances of the same type into a single
output record for that type, you don’t get any sense of how many objects
of that type are traversing the pipeline. With Get-TypeName, you will see
the type name of *every* object passed into it. NOTE: If you specify any
arguments then all pipeline input is ignored. This is due to the fact
that PowerShell executes the Process function even if there isn’t any
input so it is impossible to distinguish between $null pipeline input and
no pipeline input. NOTE: the type name is displayed directly to the host
so that it doesn’t interfere with pipeline operations. If you want the
original object to pass thru, use the PassThru parameter.

Converts the line endings in the specified file to Unix line endings
“\n”. You can convert a single file to a new file name. Or you can
convert multiple files and specify a destination directory. By default,
this cmdlet will overwrite existing files unless you specify -NoClobber.
If you want to force the overwrite of read only files use the -Force

Gets the operating system’s uptime and last bootup time.

Tests whether or not a user (current user by default) is a member of the
specified group name. This can be used to test whether a user is admin or
elevated to admin.

Modifies the label shown in Windows Explorer for a particular disk

Converts the line endings in the specified file to Windows line endings
“\r\n”. You can convert a single file to a new file name. Or you can
convert multiple files and specify a destination directory. By default,
this cmdlet will overwrite existing files unless you specify -NoClobber.
If you want to force the overwrite of read only files use the -Force

Performs XSLT transforms on the specified XML file or XmlDocument. Use
the EnableScript parameter to enable script embedded in the XSLT file.

Pretty print for XML files and XmlDocument objects.

Tests for well formedness and optionally validates against XML Schema. It
doesn’t handle specifying the targetNamespace. To see validation error
messages, specify the -Verbose flag.

Create ZIP format archive files from pipline or parameter input.

PSCX Provider: Provides access to the .NET Global Assembly Cache and the
assemblies it contains. The assemblies are exposed as AssemblyName

PSCX Provider: Provides access to LDAP servers like Active Directory or
AD Lightweight Directory Services.

PSCX Provider: Provides access to the Internet Explorer 7 RSS feed store.

To see what functions are provided by PSCX, execute the command:
Get-Command -Module Pscx* -CommandType Function
The current PSCX functions are listed below:

Calculates the sizes of the specified directory and adds that size as a
“Length” NoteProperty to the input DirectoryInfo object.

Adds the file or directory’s short path as a “ShortPath” NoteProperty to
each input object.

Dismounts a Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) file.

Edit-File (e)
Opens up the specified text file in a text editor.

Edit-HostProfile (ehp)
Opens the current user’s profile for the current host in a text editor.

Edit-Profile (ep)
Opens the current user’s “all hosts” profile in a text editor.

Creates the registry entries required to create Windows Explorer context
menu “Open PowerShell Here” for both Directories and Drives

Gets the execution time for the specified Id of a command in the current
session history.

Displays information about Windows PowerShell commands and concepts.

Displays information about Windows PowerShell commands and concepts.

Displays information about Windows PowerShell commands and concepts.

Get-Parameter (gpar)
Enumerates the parameters of one or more commands.

Generate CSS header for HTML “screen shot” of the host buffer.

Functions to generate HTML “screen shot” of the host buffer.

Gets the possible alternate views for the specified object.

Imports environment variables for the specified version of Visual Studio.

Invokes the specified batch file and retains any environment variable
changes it makes.

Invoke-Elevated (su)
Runs the specified command in an elevated context.

Invoke-GC (igc)
Invokes the .NET garbage collector to clean up garbage objects.

Invoke-Method (call)
Function to call a single method on an incoming stream of piped objects.

Less provides better paging of output from cmdlets.

Mounts a Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) file.

Outputs text as spoken words.

QuoteList (ql)
Convenience function for creating an array of strings without requiring
quotes or commas.

QuoteString (qs)
Creates a string from each parameter by concatenating each item using
$OFS as the separator.

Resolve-ErrorRecord (rver)
Resolves the PowerShell error code to a textual description of the error.

Resolve-HResult (rvhr)
Resolves the hresult error code to a textual description of the error.

Resolve-WindowsError (rvwer)
Resolves a Windows error number a textual description of the error.

Set-LocationEx (cd)
CD function that tracks location history allowing easy navigation to
previous locations.

Set-ReadOnly (sro)
Sets a file’s read only status to true making it read only.

Set-Writable (swr)
Sets a file’s read only status to false making it writable.

Shows the specified path as a tree.

Starts a new Windows PowerShell process.

Stops a process on a remote machine.

To see what aliases get created by PSCX, execute the command:
Get-Command -Module Pscx* -CommandType Alias
The current PSCX defined aliases are listed below:

?: : alias for Invoke-Ternary filter
?? : alias for Invoke-NullCoalescing filter
call : alias for Invoke-Method function
cvxml : alias for Convert-Xml cmdlet
e : alias for Edit-File function
ehp : alias for Edit-HostProfile function
ep : alias for Edit-Profile function
fhex : alias for Format-Hex cmdlet
fxml : alias for Format-Xml cmdlet
gcb : alias for Get-Clipboard cmdlet
gpar : alias for Get-Parameter function
gtn : alias for Get-TypeName cmdlet
igc : alias for Invoke-GC function
ln : alias for New-HardLink cmdlet
lorem : alias for Get-LoremIpsum cmdlet
nho : alias for New-HashObject filter
ocb : alias for Out-Clipboard cmdlet
ql : alias for QuoteList function
qs : alias for QuoteString function
Resize-Bitmap : alias for Set-BitmapSize cmdlet
rver : alias for Resolve-ErrorRecord function
rvhr : alias for Resolve-HResult function
rvwer : alias for Resolve-WindowsError function
skip : alias for Skip-Object cmdlet
sro : alias for Set-ReadOnly function
su : alias for Invoke-Elevated function
swr : alias for Set-Writable function
tail : alias for Get-FileTail cmdlet
touch : alias for Set-FileTime cmdlet

Less-394 is a paging utility that PSCX installs. PSCX further provides
a replacement “help” function that can uses the installed less.exe to
page help output. If you use either the “man” alias (an alias to help)
or the help function, the output will be paged using the PSCX “less”
function which uses less.exe. By default, PSCX’s “less” function will
use Less.exe to page its input. If you want to temporarily avoid
using Less for paging when viewing help topics, you can use Get-Help
directly e.g.:

PS> Get-Help Get-PSDrive -Full

The primary commands you need to know in order to use less.exe are:
Press ‘q’ to exit less.exe. Press ‘/[enter] to search the
help topic for a specific term. Press ‘h’ to get more help on how to
use less.exe.

If you want to permanently suppress the usage of Less and revert back
to PowerShell’s default pager (more.com) set the ‘PageHelpUsingLess’
preference variable to $false in your Pscx.UserPreferences.ps1 file.
See the PREFERENCES VARIABLES section above for more information on
customing PSCX.

Using Less to browse help topics is significantly nicer than the
default paging in PowerShell. PSCX does not however redefine
PowerShell’s “more” function to use Less because the way PowerShell
interops with legacy applications causes all output to be rendered to
text before it is sent to a legacy application. That makes commands
like the following take too much time to generate any output:

PS> gci $env:windir -rec | less

This is a simple legacy console application that can be very useful
when you are troubleshooting the invocation of a legacy application
with complex parameters. The typical problem is that you may think
the parameters are being passed literally to the legacy application
when in fact PowerShell is parsing the parameters via its standard
parameter parsing and then passing the result to the legacy
application e.g.:

PS> echoargs a /b -c -d:user /e:foo.cs;405
Arg 0 is
Arg 1 is
Arg 2 is <-c>
Arg 3 is <-d:user>
Arg 4 is

Command line:
“C:\Program Files (x86)\PowerShell Community Extensions\Pscx3\Pscx\
Apps\EchoArgs.exe” a /b -c -d:user /e:foo.cs


Notice that ‘;’ is the statement separator in PowerShell so the ‘405’
part of the parameter ‘/e:foo.cs;405’ is not even considered a
parameter to the legacy application. These sort of problems are
typically solved by quoting the arguments to legacy applications e.g.:

5> echoargs a /b -c -d:user ‘/e:foo.cs;405’
Arg 0 is

Arg 1 is
Arg 2 is <-c>
Arg 3 is <-d:user>
Arg 4 is

Command line:
“C:\Program Files (x86)\PowerShell Community Extensions\Pscx3\Pscx\
Apps\EchoArgs.exe” a /b -c -d:user /e:foo.cs;405

If you want to add an “Open PowerShell Prompt” context menu item to
Windows Explorer for folders and drives, execute:

PS> Enable-OpenPowerShellHere

Please submit any feedback, including defects and enhancement requests,
to either the discussions forums at:


or via the Issue Tracker at:


We are also interested in suggestions you may have for cmdlets. Over
time, we hope to be able to add some custom providers but that greatly
depends on recruiting some more developers for the PSCX project.

If you are:

A) A software developer with experience programming in C#
B) Passionate about Windows PowerShell
C) Interested in contributing your coding talents to the project, please
drop me an email at:


This is a list of people and/or groups who have directly or indirectly
helped by offering significant suggestions, code or linkable binaries
without which PSCX would be a lesser product. In no particular order:


Mike Krueger/John Reilly #ZipLib

Igor Pavlov / 7-Zip

The nUnit Team

Eugene Sichkar

Richard Deeming / Trinet.Core.IO.Ntfs

For more information, most of the cmdlets have help associated with
them e.g.:

PS> help Get-Clipboard

The definitive information on a cmdlet’s parameters can be obtained
by executing:

PS> Get-Command Get-Clipboard -syntax

or more tersely:

PS> gcm get-clipboard -syn

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