Sort-Object

Sorts objects by property values.

Syntax

Sort-Object
    [-Stable]
    [-Descending]
    [-Unique]
    [-InputObject <PSObject>]
    [[-Property] <Object[]>]
    [-Culture <String>]
    [-CaseSensitive]
    [<CommonParameters>]
Sort-Object
    [-Descending]
    [-Unique]
    -Top <Int32>
    [-InputObject <PSObject>]
    [[-Property] <Object[]>]
    [-Culture <String>]
    [-CaseSensitive]
    [<CommonParameters>]
Sort-Object
    [-Descending]
    [-Unique]
    -Bottom <Int32>
    [-InputObject <PSObject>]
    [[-Property] <Object[]>]
    [-Culture <String>]
    [-CaseSensitive]
    [<CommonParameters>]

Description

The Sort-Object cmdlet sorts objects in ascending or descending order based on object property values. If sort properties are not included in a command, PowerShell uses default sort properties.

You can sort objects by a single property or multiple properties. Multiple properties use hash tables to sort in ascending order, descending order, or a combination of sort orders. Properties are sorted as case-sensitive or case-insensitive. Use the Unique parameter to eliminate duplicates from the output.

Examples

Example 1: Sort the current directory by name

This example sorts the files and subdirectories in a directory.

PS> Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test | Sort-Object

    Directory: C:\Test

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
-a----        2/13/2019     08:55             26 anotherfile.txt
-a----        2/13/2019     13:26             20 Bfile.txt
-a----        2/12/2019     15:40         118014 Command.txt
-a----         2/1/2019     08:43            183 CreateTestFile.ps1
d-----        2/25/2019     18:25                Files
d-----        2/25/2019     18:24                Logs
-ar---        2/12/2019     14:31             27 ReadOnlyFile.txt
-a----        2/12/2019     16:24             23 Zsystemlog.log

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet gets the files and subdirectories from the directory specified by the Path parameter, C:\Test. The objects are sent down the pipeline to the Sort-Object cmdlet. Sort-Object does not specify a property so the output is sorted by the default sort property, Name.

Example 2: Sort the current directory by file length

This command displays the files in the current directory by length in ascending order.

PS> Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test -File | Sort-Object -Property Length

    Directory: C:\Test

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
-a----        2/13/2019     13:26             20 Bfile.txt
-a----        2/12/2019     16:24             23 Zsystemlog.log
-a----        2/13/2019     08:55             26 anotherfile.txt
-ar---        2/12/2019     14:31             27 ReadOnlyFile.txt
-a----         2/1/2019     08:43            183 CreateTestFile.ps1
-a----        2/12/2019     15:40         118014 Command.txt

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet gets the files from the directory specified by the Path parameter. The File parameter specifies that Get-ChildItem only gets file objects. The objects are sent down the pipeline to the Sort-Object cmdlet. Sort-Object uses the Length parameter to sort the files by length in ascending order.

Example 3: Sort processes by memory usage

This example displays processes with the highest memory usage based on their working set (WS) size.

PS> Get-Process | Sort-Object -Property WS | Select-Object -Last 5

 NPM(K)    PM(M)      WS(M)     CPU(s)      Id  SI ProcessName
 ------    -----      -----     ------      --  -- -----------
    136   193.92     217.11     889.16   87492   8 OUTLOOK
    112   347.73     297.02      95.19  106908   8 Teams
    206   266.54     323.71      37.17   60620   8 MicrosoftEdgeCP
     35   552.19     549.94     131.66    6552   8 Code
      0     1.43     595.12       0.00    2780   0 Memory Compression

The Get-Process cmdlet gets the list of processes running on the computer. The process objects are sent down the pipeline to the Sort-Object cmdlet. Sort-Object uses the Property parameter to sort the objects by WS. The objects are sent down the pipeline to the Select-Object cmdlet. Select-Object uses the Last parameter to specify the last five objects, which are the objects with the highest WS usage.

In PowerShell 6, the Sort-Object parameter Bottom is an alternative to Select-Object. For example, Get-Process | Sort-Object -Property WS -Bottom 5.

Example 4: Sort HistoryInfo objects by Id

This command sorts the PowerShell session's HistoryInfo objects using the Id property. Each PowerShell session has its own command history.

PS> Get-History | Sort-Object -Property Id -Descending

  Id CommandLine
  -- -----------
  10 Get-Command Sort-Object -Syntax
   9 $PSVersionTable
   8 Get-Command Sort-Object -Syntax
   7 Get-Command Sort-Object -ShowCommandInfo
   6 Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test | Sort-Object -Property Length
   5 Get-Help Clear-History -online
   4 Get-Help Clear-History -full
   3 Get-ChildItem | Get-Member
   2 Get-Command Sort-Object -Syntax
   1 Set-Location C:\Test\

The Get-History cmdlet gets the history objects from the current PowerShell session. The objects are sent down the pipeline to the Sort-Object cmdlet. Sort-Object uses the Property parameter to sort the objects by Id. The Descending parameter sorts the command history from newest to oldest.

Example 5: Use a hash table to sort properties in ascending and descending order

This example uses two properties to sort the objects, Status and DisplayName. Status is sorted in descending order and DisplayName is sorted in ascending order.

A hash table is used to specify the Property parameter's value. The hash table uses an expression to specify the property names and sort orders. For more information about hash tables, see about_Hash_Tables.

The Status property used in the hash table is an enumerated property. For more information, see ServiceControllerStatus.

PS C:\> Get-Service | Sort-Object -Property @{Expression = "Status"; Descending = $True}, @{Expression = "DisplayName"; Descending = $False}

Status   Name               DisplayName
------   ----               -----------
Running  Appinfo            Application Information
Running  BthAvctpSvc        AVCTP service
Running  BrokerInfrastru... Background Tasks Infrastructure Ser...
Running  BDESVC             BitLocker Drive Encryption Service
Running  CoreMessagingRe... CoreMessaging
Running  VaultSvc           Credential Manager
Running  DsSvc              Data Sharing Service
Running  Dhcp               DHCP Client
...
Stopped  ALG                Application Layer Gateway Service
Stopped  AppMgmt            Application Management
Stopped  BITS               Background Intelligent Transfer Ser...
Stopped  wbengine           Block Level Backup Engine Service
Stopped  BluetoothUserSe... Bluetooth User Support Service_14fb...
Stopped  COMSysApp          COM+ System Application
Stopped  smstsmgr           ConfigMgr Task Sequence Agent
Stopped  DeviceInstall      Device Install Service
Stopped  MSDTC              Distributed Transaction Coordinator

The Get-Service cmdlet gets the list of services on the computer. The service objects are sent down the pipeline to the Sort-Object cmdlet. Sort-Object uses the Property parameter with a hash table to specify the property names and sort orders. The Property parameter is sorted by two properties, Status in descending order and DisplayName in ascending order.

Status is an enumerated property. Stopped has a value of 1 and Running has a value of 4. The Descending parameter is set to $True so that Running processes are displayed before Stopped processes. DisplayName sets the Descending parameter to $False to sort the display names in alphabetical order.

Example 6: Sort text files by time span

This command sorts text files in descending order by the time span between CreationTime and LastWriteTime.

PS> Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Test\*.txt | Sort-Object -Property @{Expression = {$_.CreationTime - $_.LastWriteTime}; Descending = $False} | Format-Table CreationTime, LastWriteTime, FullName

CreationTime          LastWriteTime        FullName
------------          -------------        --------
11/21/2018 12:39:01   2/26/2019 08:59:36   C:\Test\test2.txt
12/4/2018 08:29:41    2/26/2019 08:57:05   C:\Test\powershell_list.txt
2/20/2019 08:15:59    2/26/2019 12:09:43   C:\Test\CreateTestFile.txt
2/20/2019 08:15:59    2/26/2019 12:07:41   C:\Test\Command.txt
2/20/2019 08:15:59    2/26/2019 08:57:52   C:\Test\ReadOnlyFile.txt
11/29/2018 15:16:50   12/4/2018 16:16:24   C:\Test\LogData.txt
2/25/2019 18:25:11    2/26/2019 12:08:47   C:\Test\Zsystemlog.txt
2/25/2019 18:25:11    2/26/2019 08:55:33   C:\Test\Bfile.txt
2/26/2019 08:46:59    2/26/2019 12:12:19   C:\Test\LogFile3.txt

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the directory C:\Test and all of the *.txt files. The objects are sent down the pipeline to the Sort-Object cmdlet. Sort-Object uses the Property parameter with a hash table to determine each files time span between CreationTime and LastWriteTime. The Descending parameter is set to $False to sort in the order of longest to shortest time span.

Example 7: Sort names in a text file

This example shows how to sort a list from a text file. The original file is displayed as an unsorted list. Sort-Object sorts the contents and then sorts the contents with the Unique parameter that removes duplicates.

PS> Get-Content -Path C:\Test\ServerNames.txt
localhost
server01
server25
LOCALHOST
Server19
server3
localhost

PS> Get-Content -Path C:\Test\ServerNames.txt | Sort-Object
localhost
LOCALHOST
localhost
server01
Server19
server25
server3

PS> Get-Content -Path C:\Test\ServerNames.txt | Sort-Object -Unique
localhost
server01
Server19
server25
server3

The Get-Content cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the directory and file name. The file ServerNames.txt contains an unsorted list of computer names.

The Get-Content cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the directory and file name. The file ServerNames.txt contains an unsorted list of computer names. The objects are sent down the pipeline to the Sort-Object cmdlet. Sort-Object sorts the list in the default order, ascending.

The Get-Content cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the directory and file name. The file ServerNames.txt contains an unsorted list of computer names. The objects are sent down the pipeline to the Sort-Object cmdlet. Sort-Object uses the Unique parameter to remove duplicate computer names. The list is sorted in the default order, ascending.

Example 8: Sort a string as an integer

This example shows how to sort a text file that contains string objects as integers. You can send each command down the pipeline to Get-Member and verify that the objects are strings or integers.

PS> Get-Content -Path C:\Test\ProductId.txt | Sort-Object
0
1
12345
1500
2
2800
3500
4100
500
6200
77
88
99999

PS> Get-Content -Path C:\Test\ProductId.txt | Sort-Object {[int]$_}
0
1
2
77
88
500
1500
2800
3500
4100
6200
12345
99999

The Get-Content cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the directory and file name. The file ProductId.txt contains an unsorted list of product numbers. The string objects are sent down the pipeline to the Sort-Object cmdlet. Sort-Object sorts the string objects in ascending order.

The Get-Content cmdlet uses the Path parameter to specify the directory and file name. The file ProductId.txt contains an unsorted list of product numbers. The string objects are sent down the pipeline to the ForEach-Object cmdlet. ForEach-Object uses a script block to convert the strings to integers. In the sample code, [int] converts the string to an integer and $_ represents each string as it comes down the pipeline. The integer objects are sent down the pipeline to the Sort-Object cmdlet. Sort-Object sorts the integer objects in numeric order.

Example 9: Using stable sorts

When you use the Top, Bottom, or Stable parameters, the sorted objects are delivered in the order they were received by Sort-Object when the sort criteria are equal. In this example, we are sorting the numbers one through 20 by the their value 'modulo 3'. The modulo value ranges from zero to two.

PS> 1..20 |Sort-Object {$_ % 3}
18
3
15
6
12
9
1
16
13
10
7
4
19
11
8
14
5
17
2
20

PS> 1..20 |Sort-Object {$_ % 3} -Stable
3
6
9
12
15
18
1
4
7
10
13
16
19
2
5
8
11
14
17
20

The output from the first sort is correctly grouped by the modulus value but the individual items are not sorted within the modulus range. The second sort uses the Stable option to return a stable sort.

Parameters

-Bottom

Specifies the number of objects to get from the end of a sorted object array. This results in a stable sort.

Type:Int32
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-CaseSensitive

Indicates that the sort is case-sensitive. By default, sorts are not case-sensitive.

Type:SwitchParameter
Position:Named
Default value:Case-insensitive
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Culture

Specifies the cultural configuration to use for sorts. Use Get-Culture to display the system's culture configuration.

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

Indicates that Sort-Object sorts the objects in descending order. The default is ascending order.

To sort multiple properties with different sort orders, use a hash table. For example, with a hash table you can sort one property in ascending order and another property in descending order.

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

To sort objects, send them down the pipeline to Sort-Object. If you use the InputObject parameter to submit a collection of items, Sort-Object receives one object that represents the collection. Because one object cannot be sorted, Sort-Object returns the entire collection unchanged.

Type:PSObject
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:True (ByValue)
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Property

Specifies the property names that Sort-Object uses to sort the objects. Wildcards are permitted. Objects are sorted based on the property values. If you do not specify a property, Sort-Object sorts based on default properties for the object type.

Multiple properties can be sorted in ascending order, descending order, or a combination of sort orders. When you specify multiple properties, the objects are sorted by the first property. If multiple objects have the same value for the first property, those objects are sorted by the second property. This process continues until there are no more specified properties or no groups of objects.

The Property parameter's value can be a calculated property. To create a calculated property, use a hash table.

Valid keys for a hash table are as follows:

  • Expression <string> or <script block>
  • Ascending <Boolean>
  • Descending <Boolean>
Type:Object[]
Position:0
Default value:Default properties
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:True
-Stable

The sorted objects are delivered in the order they were received when the sort criteria are equal.

This parameter was added in PowerShell v6.2.0.

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

Specifies the number of objects to get from the start of a sorted object array. This results in a stable sort.

Type:Int32
Position:Named
Default value:None
Accept pipeline input:False
Accept wildcard characters:False
-Unique

Indicates that Sort-Object eliminates duplicates and returns only the unique members of the collection. The first instance of a unique value is included in the sorted output.

Unique is case-insensitive. Strings that only differ by character case are considered the same. For example, character and CHARACTER.

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

Inputs

System.Management.Automation.PSObject

You can pipe the objects to be sorted to Sort-Object.

Outputs

System.Management.Automation.PSObject

Sort-Object returns the sorted objects.

Notes

The Sort-Object cmdlet sorts objects based on properties specified in the command or the default sort properties for the object type. If an object does not have one of the specified properties, the property value for that object is interpreted by Sort-Object as Null and placed at the end of the sort order.

Sort-Object uses the Compare method for each property. If a property does not implement IComparable, the cmdlet converts the property value to a string and uses the Compare method for System.String. For more information, see PSObject.CompareTo(Object) Method.

If you sort on an enumerated property such as Status, Sort-Object sorts by the enumeration values. Stopped has a value of 1 and Running has a value of 4. Stopped is sorted before Running because of the enumerated values. For more information, see ServiceControllerStatus.

The performance of the sorting algorithm is slower when doing a stable sort.