PowerShell.exe Command-Line Help

You can use PowerShell.exe to start a PowerShell session from the command line of another tool, such as Cmd.exe, or use it at the PowerShell command line to start a new session. Use the parameters to customize the session.


       [-Command { - | <script-block> [-args <arg-array>]
                     | <string> [<CommandParameters>] } ]
       [-EncodedCommand <Base64EncodedCommand>]
       [-ExecutionPolicy <ExecutionPolicy>]
       [-File <FilePath> [<Args>]]
       [-InputFormat {Text | XML}]
       [-OutputFormat {Text | XML}]
       [-PSConsoleFile <FilePath> | -Version <PowerShell version>]
       [-WindowStyle <style>]

PowerShell[.exe] -Help | -? | /?



Accepts a base-64-encoded string version of a command. Use this parameter to submit commands to PowerShell that require complex quotation marks or curly braces.


Sets the default execution policy for the current session and saves it in the $env:PSExecutionPolicyPreference environment variable. This parameter does not change the PowerShell execution policy that is set in the registry. For information about PowerShell execution policies, including a list of valid values, see about_Execution_Policies.

-File []

Runs the specified script in the local scope ("dot-sourced"), so that the functions and variables that the script creates are available in the current session. Enter the script file path and any parameters. File must be the last parameter in the command, because all characters typed after the File parameter name are interpreted as the script file path followed by the script parameters and their values.

You can include the parameters of a script, and parameter values, in the value of the File parameter. For example: -File .\Get-Script.ps1 -Domain Central Note that parameters passed to the script are passed as literal strings (after interpretation by the current shell). For example, if you are in cmd.exe and want to pass an environment variable value, you would use the cmd.exe syntax: powershell -File .\test.ps1 -Sample %windir% If you were to use PowerShell syntax, then in this example your script would receive the literal "$env:windir" and not the value of that environmental variable: powershell -File .\test.ps1 -Sample $env:windir

Typically, the switch parameters of a script are either included or omitted. For example, the following command uses the All parameter of the Get-Script.ps1 script file: -File .\Get-Script.ps1 -All

-InputFormat {Text | XML}

Describes the format of data sent to PowerShell. Valid values are "Text" (text strings) or "XML" (serialized CLIXML format).


Starts PowerShell using a multi-threaded apartment. This parameter is introduced in PowerShell 3.0. In PowerShell 3.0, single-threaded apartment (STA) is the default. In PowerShell 2.0, multi-threaded apartment (MTA) is the default.


Does not exit after running startup commands.

Hides the copyright banner at startup.


Does not present an interactive prompt to the user.


Does not load the PowerShell profile.

-OutputFormat {Text | XML}

Determines how output from PowerShell is formatted. Valid values are "Text" (text strings) or "XML" (serialized CLIXML format).


Loads the specified PowerShell console file. Enter the path and name of the console file. To create a console file, use the Export-Console cmdlet in PowerShell.


Starts PowerShell using a single-threaded apartment. In PowerShell 3.0, single-threaded apartment (STA) is the default. In PowerShell 2.0, multi-threaded apartment (MTA) is the default.


Starts the specified version of PowerShell. The version that you specify must be installed on the system. If PowerShell 3.0 is installed on the computer, valid values are "2.0" and "3.0". The default value is "3.0".

If PowerShell 3.0 is not installed, the only valid value is "2.0". Other values are ignored.

For more information, see "Installing Windows PowerShell".


Sets the window style for the session. Valid values are Normal, Minimized, Maximized and Hidden.


Executes the specified commands (and any parameters) as though they were typed at the PowerShell command prompt, and then exits, unless the NoExit parameter is specified. Essentially, any text after -Command is sent as a single command line to PowerShell (this is different from how -File handles parameters sent to a script).

The value of Command can be "-", a string. or a script block. If the value of Command is "-", the command text is read from standard input.

Script blocks must be enclosed in braces ({}). You can specify a script block only when running PowerShell.exe in PowerShell. The results of the script are returned to the parent shell as deserialized XML objects, not live objects.

If the value of Command is a string, Command must be the last parameter in the command, because any characters typed after the command are interpreted as the command arguments.

To write a string that runs a PowerShell command, use the format:

"& {<command>}"

where the quotation marks indicate a string and the invoke operator (&) causes the command to be executed.

-Help, -?, /?

Shows this message. If you are typing a PowerShell.exe command in PowerShell, prepend the command parameters with a hyphen (-), not a forward slash (/). You can use either a hyphen or forward slash in Cmd.exe.


Troubleshooting Note: In PowerShell 2.0, starting some programs in the Windows PowerShell console fails with a LastExitCode of 0xc0000142.


# Create a new PowerShell session and load a saved console file
PowerShell -PSConsoleFile sqlsnapin.psc1

# Create a new PowerShell V2 session with text input, XML output, and no logo
PowerShell -Version 2.0 -NoLogo -InputFormat text -OutputFormat XML

# Execute a PowerShell Command in a session
PowerShell -Command "Get-EventLog -LogName security"

# Run a script block in a session
PowerShell -Command {Get-EventLog -LogName security}

# An alternate way to run a command in a new session
PowerShell -Command "& {Get-EventLog -LogName security}"

# To use the -EncodedCommand parameter:
$command = "dir 'c:\program files' "
$bytes = [System.Text.Encoding]::Unicode.GetBytes($command)
$encodedCommand = [Convert]::ToBase64String($bytes)
powershell.exe -encodedCommand $encodedCommand