Get-ChildItem

Gets the items and child items in one or more specified locations.

Syntax

Get-ChildItem
   [[-Path] <string[]>]
   [[-Filter] <string>]
   [-Include <string[]>]
   [-Exclude <string[]>][-Recurse]
   [-Depth <uint32>]
   [-Force]
   [-Name]
   [-Attributes <FlagsExpression[FileAttributes]>][-FollowSymlink]
   [-Directory]
   [-File]
   [-Hidden]
   [-ReadOnly]
   [-System]
   [<CommonParameters>]
Get-ChildItem
   [[-Filter] <string>]
   -LiteralPath <string[]>
   [-Include <string[]>][-Exclude <string[]>]
   [-Recurse]
   [-Depth <uint32>]
   [-Force]
   [-Name][-Attributes <FlagsExpression[FileAttributes]>]
   [-FollowSymlink]
   [-Directory]
   [-File]
   [-Hidden][-ReadOnly]
   [-System]
   [<CommonParameters>]

Description

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet gets the items in one or more specified locations. If the item is a container, it gets the items inside the container, known as child items. You can use the Recurse parameter to get items in all child containers and use the Depth parameter to limit the number of levels to recurse.

Get-ChildItem does not display empty directories. When a Get-ChildItem command includes the Depth or Recurse parameters, empty directories are not included in the output.

Locations are exposed to Get-ChildItem by PowerShell providers. A location can be a file system directory, registry hive, or a certificate store. For more information, see about_Providers.

Examples

Example 1: Get child items from a file system directory

This example gets the child items from a file system directory. The file names and subdirectory names are displayed. For empty locations the command does not return any output and returns to the PowerShell prompt.

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the directory C:\Test. Get-ChildItem displays the files and directories in the PowerShell console.

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test

Directory: C:\Test

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
d-----        2/15/2019     08:29                Logs
-a----        2/13/2019     08:55             26 anotherfile.txt
-a----        2/12/2019     15:40         118014 Command.txt
-a----         2/1/2019     08:43            183 CreateTestFile.ps1
-ar---        2/12/2019     14:31             27 ReadOnlyFile.txt

By default Get-ChildItem lists the mode (Attributes), LastWriteTime, file size (Length), and the Name of the item. The letters in the Mode property can be interperted as follows:

  • l (link)
  • d (directory)
  • a (archive)
  • r (read-only)
  • h (hidden)
  • s (system).

For more information about the mode flags, see about_Filesystem_Provider.

Example 2: Get child item names in a directory

This command lists only the names of items in a directory.

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the directory C:\Test. The Name parameter returns only the file or directory names from the specified path.

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test -Name

Logs
anotherfile.txt
Command.txt
CreateTestFile.ps1
ReadOnlyFile.txt

Example 3: Get child items in the current directory and subdirectories

This example displays .txt files that are located in the current directory and its subdirectories.

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test\*.txt -Recurse -Force

Directory: C:\Test\Logs\Adirectory

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
-a----        2/12/2019     16:16             20 Afile4.txt
-a-h--        2/12/2019     15:52             22 hiddenfile.txt
-a----        2/13/2019     13:26             20 LogFile4.txt

    Directory: C:\Test\Logs\Backup

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
-a----        2/12/2019     16:16             20 ATextFile.txt
-a----        2/12/2019     15:50             20 LogFile3.txt

    Directory: C:\Test\Logs

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
-a----        2/12/2019     16:16             20 Afile.txt
-a-h--        2/12/2019     15:52             22 hiddenfile.txt
-a----        2/13/2019     13:26             20 LogFile1.txt

    Directory: C:\Test

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
-a----        2/13/2019     08:55             26 anotherfile.txt
-a----        2/12/2019     15:40         118014 Command.txt
-a-h--        2/12/2019     15:52             22 hiddenfile.txt
-ar---        2/12/2019     14:31             27 ReadOnlyFile.txt

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify C:\Test\*.txt. Path uses the asterisk (*) wildcard to specify all files with the file name extension .txt. The Recurse parameter searches the Path directory its subdirectories, as shown in the Directory: headings. The Force parameter displays hidden files such as hiddenfile.txt that have a mode of h.

Example 4: Get child items using the Include parameter

In this example Get-ChildItem uses the Include parameter to find specific items from the directory specified by the Path parameter.

# When using the -Include parameter, if you do not include an asterisk in the path
# the command returns no output.
Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test\ -Include *.txt



Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test\* -Include *.txt

Directory: C:\Test

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
-a----        2/13/2019     08:55             26 anotherfile.txt
-a----        2/12/2019     15:40         118014 Command.txt
-ar---        2/12/2019     14:31             27 ReadOnlyFile.txt

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the directory C:\Test. The Path parameter includes a trailing asterisk (*) wildcard to specify the directory's contents. The Include parameter uses an asterisk (*) wildcard to specify all files with the file name extension .txt.

When the Include parameter is used, the Path parameter needs a trailing asterisk (*) wildcard to specify the directory's contents. For example, -Path C:\Test\*.

  • If the Recurse parameter is added to the command, the trailing asterisk (*) in the Path parameter is optional. The Recurse parameter gets items from the Path directory and its subdirectories. For example, -Path C:\Test\ -Recurse -Include *.txt
  • If a trailing asterisk (*) is not included in the Path parameter, the command does not return any output and returns to the PowerShell prompt. For example, -Path C:\Test\.

Example 5: Get child items using the Exclude parameter

The example's output shows the contents of the directory C:\Test\Logs. The output is a reference for the other commands that use the Exclude and Recurse parameters.

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test\Logs

Directory: C:\Test\Logs

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
d-----        2/15/2019     13:21                Adirectory
d-----        2/15/2019     08:28                AnEmptyDirectory
d-----        2/15/2019     13:21                Backup
-a----        2/12/2019     16:16             20 Afile.txt
-a----        2/13/2019     13:26             20 LogFile1.txt
-a----        2/12/2019     16:24             23 systemlog1.log

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test\Logs\* -Exclude A*

Directory: C:\Test\Logs

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
d-----        2/15/2019     13:21                Backup
-a----        2/13/2019     13:26             20 LogFile1.txt
-a----        2/12/2019     16:24             23 systemlog1.log

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the directory C:\Test\Logs. The Exclude parameter uses the asterisk (*) wildcard to specify any files or directories that begin with A or a are excluded from the output.

When the Exclude parameter is used, a trailing asterisk (*) in the Path parameter is optional. For example, -Path C:\Test\Logs or -Path C:\Test\Logs\*.

  • If a trailing asterisk (*) is not included in the Path parameter, the contents of the Path parameter are displayed. The exceptions are file names or subdirectory names that match the Exclude parameter's value.
  • If a trailing asterisk (*) is included in the Path parameter, the command recurses into the Path parameter's subdirectories. The exceptions are file names or subdirectory names that match the Exclude parameter's value.
  • If the Recurse parameter is added to the command, the recursion output is the same whether or not the Path parameter includes a trailing asterisk (*).

Example 6: Get the registry keys from a registry hive

This command gets all of the registry keys from the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\HARDWARE registry key.

Get-ChildItem uses the Path parameter to specify the registry key HKLM:\HARDWARE. The hive's path and top level of registry keys are displayed in the PowerShell console.

For more information, see about_Registry_Provider.

Get-ChildItem -Path HKLM:\HARDWARE

Hive: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\HARDWARE

Name             Property
----             --------
ACPI
DESCRIPTION
DEVICEMAP
RESOURCEMAP
UEFI

Get-ChildItem -Path HLKM:\HARDWARE -Exclude D*

Hive: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\HARDWARE

Name                           Property
----                           --------
ACPI
RESOURCEMAP

The first command shows the contents of the HKLM:\HARDWARE registry key. The Exclude parameter tells Get-ChildItem not to return any subkeys that start with D*. Currently, the Exclude parameter only works on subkeys, not item properties.

Example 7: Get all certificates with code-signing authority

This command gets each certificate in the PowerShell Cert: drive that has code-signing authority.

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the Cert: provider. The Recurse parameter searches the directory specified by Path and its subdirectories. The CodeSigningCert parameter gets only certificates that have code-signing authority.

Get-ChildItem -Path Cert:\* -Recurse -CodeSigningCert

For more information about the Certificate provider and the Cert: drive, see about_Certificate_Provider.

Example 8: Get items using the Depth parameter

This command displays the items in a directory and its subdirectories. The Depth parameter determines the number of subdirectory levels to include in the recursion. Empty directories are excluded from the output.

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Parent -Depth 2

Directory: C:\Parent

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
d-----        2/14/2019     10:24                SubDir_Level1
-a----        2/13/2019     08:55             26 file.txt

    Directory: C:\Parent\SubDir_Level1

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
d-----        2/14/2019     10:24                SubDir_Level2
-a----        2/13/2019     08:55             26 file.txt

    Directory: C:\Parent\SubDir_Level1\SubDir_Level2

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
d-----        2/14/2019     10:22                SubDir_Level3
-a----        2/13/2019     08:55             26 file.txt

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify C:\Parent. The Depth parameter specifies two levels of recursion. Get-ChildItem displays the contents of the directory specified by the Path parameter and the two levels of subdirectories.

Example 9: Getting hard link information

In PowerShell 6.2, an alternate view was added to get hard link information.

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\PathContainingHardLink | Format-Table -View childrenWithHardLink

Parameters

-Attributes

Gets files and folders with the specified attributes. This parameter supports all attributes and lets you specify complex combinations of attributes.

For example, to get non-system files (not directories) that are encrypted or compressed, type:

Get-ChildItem -Attributes !Directory+!System+Encrypted, !Directory+!System+Compressed

To find files and folders with commonly used attributes, use the Attributes parameter. Or, the parameters Directory, File, Hidden, ReadOnly, and System.

The Attributes parameter supports the following properties:

  • Archive
  • Compressed
  • Device
  • Directory
  • Encrypted
  • Hidden
  • IntegrityStream
  • Normal
  • NoScrubData
  • NotContentIndexed
  • Offline
  • ReadOnly
  • ReparsePoint
  • SparseFile
  • System
  • Temporary

For a description of these attributes, see the FileAttributes Enumeration.

To combine attributes, use the following operators:

  • ! (NOT)
  • + (AND)
  • , (OR)

Do not use spaces between an operator and its attribute. Spaces are accepted after commas.

For common attributes, use the following abbreviations:

  • D (Directory)
  • H (Hidden)
  • R (Read-only)
  • S (System)
Type:System.Management.Automation.FlagsExpression`1[System.IO.FileAttributes]
Accepted values:Archive, Compressed, Device, Directory, Encrypted, Hidden, IntegrityStream, Normal, NoScrubData, NotContentIndexed, Offline, ReadOnly, ReparsePoint, SparseFile, System, Temporary
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Depth

This parameter was added in PowerShell 5.0 and enables you to control the depth of recursion. By default, Get-ChildItem displays the contents of the parent directory. The Depth parameter determines the number of subdirectory levels that are included in the recursion and displays the contents.

For example, Depth 2 includes the Path parameter's directory, first level of subdirectories, and second level of subdirectories. By default directory names and file names are included in the output.

Note

On a Windows computer from PowerShell or cmd.exe, you can display a graphical view of a directory structure with the tree.com command.

Type:UInt32
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Directory

To get a list of directories, use the Directory parameter or the Attributes parameter with the Directory property. You can use the Recurse parameter with Directory.

Type:SwitchParameter
Aliases:ad, d
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Exclude

Specifies, as a string array, a property or property that this cmdlet excludes from the operation. The value of this parameter qualifies the Path parameter. Enter a path element or pattern, such as *.txt or A*. Wildcard characters are accepted.

A trailing asterisk (*) in the Path parameter is optional. For example, -Path C:\Test\Logs or -Path C:\Test\Logs\*. If a trailing asterisk (*) is included, the command recurses into the Path parameter's subdirectories. Without the asterisk (*), the contents of the Path parameter are displayed. More details are included in Example 5 and the Notes section.

Type:String[]
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:True
-File

To get a list of files, use the File parameter. You can use the Recurse parameter with File.

Type:SwitchParameter
Aliases:af
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Filter

Specifies a filter to qualify the Path parameter. The FileSystem provider is the only installed PowerShell provider that supports the use of filters. You can find the syntax for the FileSystem filter language in about_Wildcards. Filters are more efficient than other parameters, because the provider applies them when the cmdlet gets the objects rather than having PowerShell filter the objects after they are retrieved.

Type:String
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:True
-FollowSymlink

By default, the Get-ChildItem cmdlet displays symbolic links to directories found during recursion, but does not recurse into them. Use the FollowSymlink parameter to search the directories that target those symbolic links. The FollowSymlink is a dynamic parameter and is supported only in the FileSystem provider.

Type:SwitchParameter
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Force

Allows the cmdlet to get items that cannot otherwise not be accessed by the user, such as hidden or system files. The Force parameter does not override security restrictions. Implementation varies among providers. For more information, see about_Providers.

Type:SwitchParameter
Position:Named
Default value:False
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Hidden

To get only hidden items, use the Hidden parameter or the Attributes parameter with the Hidden property. By default, Get-ChildItem does not display hidden items. Use the Force parameter to get hidden items.

Type:SwitchParameter
Aliases:ah, h
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Include

Specifies, as a string array, an item or items that this cmdlet includes in the operation. The value of this parameter qualifies the Path parameter. Enter a path element or pattern, such as "*.txt". Wildcard characters are permitted. The Include parameter is effective only when the command includes the contents of an item, such as C:\Windows\*, where the wildcard character specifies the contents of the C:\Windows directory.

Type:String[]
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:True
-LiteralPath

Specifies a path to one or more locations. The value of LiteralPath is used exactly as it is typed. No characters are interpreted as wildcards. If the path includes escape characters, enclose it in single quotation marks. Single quotation marks tell PowerShell not to interpret any characters as escape sequences.

For more information, see about_Quoting_Rules.

Type:String[]
Aliases:PSPath
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:True (ByPropertyName)
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Name

Gets only the names of the items in the location. The output is a string object that can be sent down the pipeline to other commands.

Type:SwitchParameter
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Path

Specifies a path to one or more locations. Wildcards are accepted. The default location is the current directory (.).

Type:String[]
Position:0
Default value:Current directory
Accept pipeline input:True (ByPropertyName, ByValue)
Accept wildcard characters:True
-ReadOnly

To get only read-only items, use the ReadOnly parameter or the Attributes parameter ReadOnly property.

Type:SwitchParameter
Aliases:ar
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Recurse

Gets the items in the specified locations and in all child items of the locations.

Type:SwitchParameter
Aliases:s
Position:Named
Default value:False
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-System

Gets only system files and directories. To get only system files and folders, use the System parameter or Attributes parameter System property.

Type:SwitchParameter
Aliases:as
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False

Inputs

System.String

You can pipe a string that contains a path to Get-ChildItem.

Outputs

System.Object

The type of object that Get-ChildItem returns is determined by the objects in the provider drive path.

System.String

If you use the Name parameter, Get-ChildItem returns the object names as strings.

Notes

  • You can refer to Get-ChildItem by its built-in aliases, ls, dir, and gci. For more information, see about_Aliases.
  • Get-ChildItem does not get hidden items by default. To get hidden items, use the Force parameter.
  • The Get-ChildItem cmdlet is designed to work with the data exposed by any provider. To list the providers available in your session, type Get-PSProvider. For more information, see about_Providers.