About ForEach

Short description

Describes a language command you can use to traverse all the items in a collection of items.

Long description

The Foreach statement (also known as a Foreach loop) is a language construct for stepping through (iterating) a series of values in a collection of items.

The simplest and most typical type of collection to traverse is an array. Within a Foreach loop, it is common to run one or more commands against each item in an array.


The following shows the ForEach syntax:

foreach ($<item> in $<collection>){<statement list>}

The part of the ForEach statement enclosed in parenthesis represents a variable and a collection to iterate. PowerShell creates the variable $<item> automatically when the Foreach loop runs. Prior to each iteration through the loop, the variable is set to a value in the collection. The block following a Foreach statement {<statement list>} contains a set of commands to execute against each item in a collection.


For example, the Foreach loop in the following example displays the values in the $letterArray array.

$letterArray = "a","b","c","d"
foreach ($letter in $letterArray)
  Write-Host $letter

In this example, the $letterArray array is created and initialized with the string values "a", "b", "c", and "d". The first time the Foreach statement runs, it sets the $letter variable equal to the first item in $letterArray ("a"). Then, it uses the Write-Host cmdlet to display the letter a. The next time through the loop, $letter is set to "b", and so on. After the Foreach loop displays the letter d, PowerShell exits the loop.

The entire Foreach statement must appear on a single line to run it as a command at the PowerShell command prompt. The entire Foreach statement does not have to appear on a single line if you place the command in a .ps1 script file instead.

Foreach statements can also be used together with cmdlets that return a collection of items. In the following example, the Foreach statement steps through the list of items that is returned by the Get-ChildItem cmdlet.

foreach ($file in Get-ChildItem)
  Write-Host $file

You can refine the example by using an If statement to limit the results that are returned. In the following example, the Foreach statement performs the same looping operation as the previous example, but it adds an If statement to limit the results to files that are greater than 100 kilobytes (KB):

foreach ($file in Get-ChildItem)
  if ($file.length -gt 100KB)
    Write-Host $file

In this example, the Foreach loop uses a property of the $file variable to perform a comparison operation ($file.length -gt 100KB). The $file variable contains all the properties in the object that is returned by the Get-ChildItem cmdlet. Therefore, you can return more than just a file name. In the next example, PowerShell returns the length and the last access time inside the statement list:

foreach ($file in Get-ChildItem)
  if ($file.length -gt 100KB)
    Write-Host $file
    Write-Host $file.length
    Write-Host $file.lastaccesstime

In this example, you are not limited to running a single command in a statement list.

You can also use a variable outside a Foreach loop and increment the variable inside the loop. The following example counts files over 100 KB in size:

$i = 0
foreach ($file in Get-ChildItem) {
  if ($file.length -gt 100KB) {
    Write-Host $file "file size:" ($file.length / 1024).ToString("F0") KB
    $i = $i + 1

if ($i -ne 0) {
  Write-Host $i " file(s) over 100 KB in the current directory."
else {
  Write-Host "No files greater than 100 KB in the current directory."

In the preceding example, the $i variable is set to 0 outside the loop, and the variable is incremented inside the loop for each file that is found that is larger than 100 KB. When the loop exits, an If statement evaluates the value of $i to display a count of all the files over 100 KB. Or, it displays a message stating that no files over 100 KB were found.

The previous example also demonstrates how to format the file length results:

($file.length / 1024).ToString("F0")

The value is divided by 1,024 to show the results in kilobytes rather than bytes, and the resulting value is then formatted using the fixed-point format specifier to remove any decimal values from the result. The 0 makes the format specifier show no decimal places.

In the following example, the function defined parses PowerShell scripts and script modules and returns the location of functions contained within. The example demonstrates how to use the MoveNext method (which works similarly to skip X on a For loop) and the Current property of the $foreach variable inside of a foreach script block. The example function can find functions in a script even if there are unusually- or inconsistently-spaced function definitions that span multiple lines.

For more information, see Using Enumerators.

function Get-FunctionPosition {
    [Parameter(Position = 0, Mandatory,
      ValueFromPipeline, ValueFromPipelineByPropertyName)]

  process {
    try {
      $filesToProcess = if ($_ -is [System.IO.FileSystemInfo]) {
        Write-Verbose "From pipeline"
      } else {
        Write-Verbose "From parameter, $Path"
        Get-Item -Path $Path
      $parser = [System.Management.Automation.Language.Parser]
      Write-Verbose "lets start the foreach loop on `$filesToProcess with $($filesToProcess.count) as count"
      foreach ($item in $filesToProcess) {
        Write-Verbose "$item"
        if ($item.PSIsContainer -or
            $item.Extension -notin @('.ps1', '.psm1')) {
        $tokens = $errors = $null
        $parser::ParseFile($item.FullName, ([REF]$tokens),
          ([REF]$errors)) | Out-Null
        if ($errors) {
          $msg = "File '{0}' has {1} parser errors." -f $item.FullName,
          Write-Warning $msg
        :tokenLoop foreach ($token in $tokens) {
          if ($token.Kind -ne 'Function') {
          $position = $token.Extent.StartLineNumber
          do {
            if (-not $foreach.MoveNext()) {
              break tokenLoop
            $token = $foreach.Current
          } until ($token.Kind -in @('Generic', 'Identifier'))
          $functionPosition = [pscustomobject]@{
            Name       = $token.Text
            LineNumber = $position
            Path       = $item.FullName
          Add-Member -InputObject $functionPosition `
            -TypeName FunctionPosition -PassThru
    catch {