Describes how PowerShell providers provide access to data and components that would not otherwise be easily accessible at the command line. The data is presented in a consistent format that resembles a file system drive.
PowerShell providers are Microsoft .NET Framework-based programs that make the data in a specialized data store available in PowerShell so that you can view and manage it.
The data that a provider exposes appears in a drive, and you access the data in a path like you would on a hard disk drive. You can use any of the built-in cmdlets that the provider supports to manage the data in the provider drive. And, you can use custom cmdlets that are designed especially for the data.
The providers can also add dynamic parameters to the built-in cmdlets. These are parameters that are available only when you use the cmdlet with the provider data.
PowerShell includes a set of built-in providers that you can use to access the different types of data stores.
|Certificate||Cert:||x509 certificates for digital signatures|
|Environment||Env:||Windows environment variables|
|FileSystem||(*)||File system drives, directories, and files|
|Registry||HKLM:, HKCU:||Windows registry|
|WSMan||WSMan:||WS-Management configuration information|
(*) The FileSystem drives vary on each system.
You can also create your own PowerShell providers, and you can install providers that others develop. To list the providers that are available in your session, type:
Installing and removing providers
Providers are typically installed via PowerShell modules. Importing the module loads the provider into your session. You cannot uninstall the built-in providers. You can uninstall providers loaded by other modules.
You can unload a provider from the current session. You can do this by using the
Remove-Module cmdlet. This cmdlet does not uninstall the provider, but it
makes the provider unavailable in the session.
You can also use the
Remove-PSDrive cmdlet to remove any drive from the
current session. This data on the drive is not affected, but the drive is no
longer available in that session.
To view the PowerShell providers on your computer, type:
The output lists the built-in providers and the providers that you added to the session.
The provider cmdlets
The following cmdlets are designed to work with the data exposed by any provider. You can use the same cmdlets in the same way to manage the different types of data that providers expose. After you learn to manage the data of one provider, you can use the same procedures with the data from any provider.
For example, the
New-Item cmdlet creates a new item. In the
C: drive that is
supported by the FileSystem provider, you can use
New-Item to create a new
file or folder. In the drives that are supported by the Registry provider,
you can use
New-Item to create a new registry key. In the
you can use
New-Item to create a new alias.
For detailed information about any of the following cmdlets, type:
Get-Help <cmdlet-name> -Detailed
Viewing provider data
The primary benefit of a provider is that it exposes its data in a familiar and consistent way. The model for data presentation is a file system drive.
To use data that the provider exposes, you view it, move through it, and change it as though it were data on a hard drive. Therefore, the most important information about a provider is the name of the drive that it supports.
The drive is listed in the default display of the
but you can get information about the provider drive by using the
Get-PSDrive cmdlet. For example, to get all the properties of the
Function: drive, type:
Get-PSDrive Function | Format-List *
You can view and move through the data in a provider drive just as you would on a file system drive.
To view the contents of a provider drive, use the Get-Item or Get-ChildItem cmdlets. Type the drive name followed by a colon (:). For example, to view the contents of the Alias: drive, type:
You can view and manage the data in any drive from another drive by including the drive name in the path. For example, to view the HKLM\Software registry key in the HKLM: drive from another drive, type:
To open the drive, use the Set-Location cmdlet. Remember the colon when you specify the drive path. For example, to change your location to the root directory of the Cert: drive, type:
Then, to view the contents of the Cert: drive, type:
Moving through hierarchical data
You can move through a provider drive just as you would a hard disk drive.
If the data is arranged in a hierarchy of items within items, use a
\) to indicate a child item. Use the following format:
For example, to change your location to the HKLM\Software registry key, type a Set-Location command, such as:
You can also use relative references to locations. A dot (.) represents the current location. For example, if you are in the HKLM:\Software\Microsoft registry key, and you want to list the registry subkeys in the HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\PowerShell key, type the following command:
Providers also have a Home location. This location is shared by all
PSDrives backed by the provider. It can be retrieved by viewing the Home
property of the provider.
Get-PSProvider | Format-Table Name, Home
Name Home ---- ---- Registry Alias Environment FileSystem C:\Users\robreed Function Variable Certificate
The FileSystem provider is the only provider that has a default value for
Home. It is the same value as
$Home see about_Automatic_Variables.
You can set the Home directory for a provider, for the current session, using its property.
(Get-PSProvider FileSystem).Home = "C:\"
~ character can be used to represent the provider's home directory.
If the provider does not have a Home location set, you will see an error.
Cert:\> Set-Location ~
Set-Location : Home location for this provider is not set. To set the home location, call "(get-psprovider 'Certificate').Home = 'path'". At line:1 char:1 + Set-Location ~ + ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ + CategoryInfo : InvalidOperation: (:) [Set-Location], PSInvalidOperationException ...
Finding dynamic parameters
Dynamic parameters are cmdlet parameters that are added to a cmdlet by a provider. These parameters are available only when the cmdlet is used with the provider that added them.
For example, the
Cert: drive adds the CodeSigningCert parameter to the
Get-ChildItem cmdlets. You can use this parameter only when you
Get-ChildItem in the
For a list of the dynamic parameters that a provider supports, see the Help file for the provider. Type:
Learning about providers
Although all provider data appears in drives, and you use the same methods to move through them, the similarity stops there. The data stores that the provider exposes can be as varied as Active Directory locations and Microsoft Exchange Server mailboxes.
For information about individual PowerShell providers, type:
For a list of Help topics about the providers, type:
Get-Help * -Category Provider