about Functions - PowerShell (2023)

  • Article
  • 13 minutes to read

Short description

Describes how to create and use functions in PowerShell.

Long description

A function is a list of PowerShell statements that has a name that you assign.When you run a function, you type the function name. The statements in the listrun as if you had typed them at the command prompt.

Functions can be as simple as:

function Get-PowerShellProcess { Get-Process PowerShell }

A function can also be as complex as a cmdlet or an application.

Like cmdlets, functions can have parameters. The parameters can be named,positional, switch, or dynamic parameters. Function parameters can be read fromthe command line or from the pipeline.

Functions can return values that can be displayed, assigned to variables, orpassed to other functions or cmdlets. You can also specify a return value usingthe return keyword. The return keyword doesn't affect or suppress otheroutput returned from your function. However, the return keyword exits thefunction at that line. For more information, see about_Return.

The function's statement list can contain different types of statement listswith the keywords begin, process, end, and clean. These statement listshandle input from the pipeline differently.

The filter keyword is used to create a type of function that runs on eachobject in the pipeline. A filter resembles a function with all its statementsin a process block.

Functions can also act like cmdlets. You can create a function that works justlike a cmdlet without using C# programming. For more information, seeabout_Functions_Advanced.


Within script files and script-based modules, functions must be definedbefore they can be called.


The following are the syntax for a function:

function [<scope:>]<name> [([type]$parameter1[,[type]$parameter2])]{ begin {<statement list>} process {<statement list>} end {<statement list>} clean {<statement list>}}
function [<scope:>]<name>{ param([type]$parameter1 [,[type]$parameter2]) dynamicparam {<statement list>} begin {<statement list>} process {<statement list>} end {<statement list>} clean {<statement list>}}

A function includes the following items:

  • A function keyword
  • A scope (optional)
  • A name that you select
  • Any number of named parameters (optional)
  • One or more PowerShell commands enclosed in braces {}

For more information about the Dynamicparam keyword and dynamic parameters infunctions, see about_Functions_Advanced_Parameters.

Simple functions

Functions don't have to be complicated to be useful. The simplest functionshave the following format:

function <function-name> {statements}

For example, the following function starts PowerShell with the Run asAdministrator option.

function Start-PSAdmin {Start-Process PowerShell -Verb RunAs}

To use the function, type: Start-PSAdmin

(Video) PowerShell Functions

To add statements to the function, type each statement on a separate line, oruse a semicolon ; to separate the statements.

For example, the following function finds all .jpg files in the currentuser's directories that were changed after the start date.

function Get-NewPix{ $start = Get-Date -Month 1 -Day 1 -Year 2010 $allpix = Get-ChildItem -Path $env:UserProfile\*.jpg -Recurse $allpix | Where-Object {$_.LastWriteTime -gt $Start}}

You can create a toolbox of useful small functions. Add these functions to yourPowerShell profile, as described in about_Profiles and later in thistopic.

Function Names

You can assign any name to a function, but functions that you share with othersshould follow the naming rules that have been established for all PowerShellcommands.

Functions names should consist of a verb-noun pair where the verb identifiesthe action that the function performs and the noun identifies the item on whichthe cmdlet performs its action.

Functions should use the standard verbs that have been approved for allPowerShell commands. These verbs help us to keep our command names consistentand easy for users to understand.

For more information about the standard PowerShell verbs, seeApproved Verbs.

Functions with Parameters

You can use parameters with functions, including named parameters, positionalparameters, switch parameters, and dynamic parameters. For more informationabout dynamic parameters in functions, seeabout_Functions_Advanced_Parameters.

Named Parameters

You can define any number of named parameters. You can include a default valuefor named parameters, as described later in this topic.

You can define parameters inside the braces using the param keyword, as shownin the following sample syntax:

function <name> { param ([type]$parameter1 [,[type]$parameter2]) <statement list>}

You can also define parameters outside the braces without the Param keyword,as shown in the following sample syntax:

function <name> [([type]$parameter1[,[type]$parameter2])] { <statement list>}

Below is an example of this alternative syntax.

function Add-Numbers([int]$one, [int]$two) { $one + $two}

While the first method is preferred, there is no difference between these twomethods.

When you run the function, the value you supply for a parameter is assigned toa variable that contains the parameter name. The value of that variable can beused in the function.

The following example is a function called Get-SmallFiles. This function hasa $Size parameter. The function displays all the files that are smaller thanthe value of the $Size parameter, and it excludes directories:

function Get-SmallFiles { Param($Size) Get-ChildItem $HOME | Where-Object { $_.Length -lt $Size -and !$_.PSIsContainer }}

In the function, you can use the $Size variable, which is the name defined forthe parameter.

To use this function, type the following command:

Get-SmallFiles -Size 50

You can also enter a value for a named parameter without the parameter name.For example, the following command gives the same result as a command thatnames the Size parameter:

Get-SmallFiles 50

To define a default value for a parameter, type an equal sign and the valueafter the parameter name, as shown in the following variation of theGet-SmallFiles example:

function Get-SmallFiles ($Size = 100) { Get-ChildItem $HOME | Where-Object { $_.Length -lt $Size -and !$_.PSIsContainer }}

If you type Get-SmallFiles without a value, the function assigns 100 to$size. If you provide a value, the function uses that value.

(Video) Powershell: How To Write A Function

Optionally, you can provide a brief help string that describes the defaultvalue of your parameter, by adding the PSDefaultValue attribute to thedescription of your parameter, and specifying the Help property ofPSDefaultValue. To provide a help string that describes the default value(100) of the Size parameter in the Get-SmallFiles function, add thePSDefaultValue attribute as shown in the following example.

function Get-SmallFiles { param ( [PSDefaultValue(Help = '100')] $Size = 100 )}

For more information about the PSDefaultValue attribute class, seePSDefaultValue Attribute Members.

Positional Parameters

A positional parameter is a parameter without a parameter name. PowerShell usesthe parameter value order to associate each parameter value with a parameter inthe function.

When you use positional parameters, type one or more values after the functionname. Positional parameter values are assigned to the $args array variable.The value that follows the function name is assigned to the first position inthe $args array, $args[0].

The following Get-Extension function adds the .txt filename extension to afilename that you supply:

function Get-Extension { $name = $args[0] + ".txt" $name}
Get-Extension myTextFile

Switch Parameters

A switch is a parameter that doesn't require a value. Instead, you type thefunction name followed by the name of the switch parameter.

To define a switch parameter, specify the type [switch] before the parametername, as shown in the following example:

function Switch-Item { param ([switch]$on) if ($on) { "Switch on" } else { "Switch off" }}

When you type the On switch parameter after the function name, the functiondisplays Switch on. Without the switch parameter, it displays Switch off.

Switch-Item -on
Switch on
Switch off

You can also assign a Boolean value to a switch when you run the function,as shown in the following example:

Switch-Item -on:$true
Switch on
Switch-Item -on:$false
Switch off

Using Splatting to Represent Command Parameters

You can use splatting to represent the parameters of a command. This feature isintroduced in Windows PowerShell 3.0.

Use this technique in functions that call commands in the session. You don'tneed to declare or enumerate the command parameters, or change the functionwhen command parameters change.

The following sample function calls the Get-Command cmdlet. The command uses@Args to represent the parameters of Get-Command.

function Get-MyCommand { Get-Command @Args }

You can use all the parameters of Get-Command when you call theGet-MyCommand function. The parameters and parameter values are passed to thecommand using @Args.

Get-MyCommand -Name Get-ChildItem
CommandType Name ModuleName----------- ---- ----------Cmdlet Get-ChildItem Microsoft.PowerShell.Management

The @Args feature uses the $Args automatic parameter, which representsundeclared cmdlet parameters and values from remaining arguments.

For more information, see about_Splatting.

Piping Objects to Functions

Any function can take input from the pipeline. You can control how a functionprocesses input from the pipeline using begin, process, end, and cleankeywords. The following sample syntax shows these keywords:

function <name> { begin {<statement list>} process {<statement list>} end {<statement list>} clean {<statement list>}}


If your function defines any one of these named statement lists, all yourcode must be inside one of those blocks. Any code outside the blocks isn'trecognized. If your function doesn't use any of these blocks, all thestatements are treated like an end statement list.

The begin statement list runs one time only, at the beginning of thefunction.

(Video) PowerShell Tutorial - CH12 - Function Functions what's your Function

The process statement list runs one time for each object in the pipeline.While the process block is running, each pipeline object is assigned to the$_ automatic variable, one pipeline object at a time.

After the function receives all the objects in the pipeline, the endstatement list runs one time.

The following function uses the process keyword. The function displaysvalues from the pipeline:

function Get-Pipeline{ process {"The value is: $_"}}1,2,4 | Get-Pipeline
The value is: 1The value is: 2The value is: 4

When you use a function in a pipeline, the objects piped to the function areassigned to the $input automatic variable. The function runs statements withthe begin keyword before any objects come from the pipeline. The functionruns statements with the end keyword after all the objects have been receivedfrom the pipeline.

The following example shows the $input automatic variable with begin andend keywords.

function Get-PipelineBeginEnd{ begin {"Begin: The input is $input"} end {"End: The input is $input" }}

If this function is run using the pipeline, it displays the followingresults:

1,2,4 | Get-PipelineBeginEnd
Begin: The input isEnd: The input is 1 2 4

When the begin statement runs, the function doesn't have the input from thepipeline. The end statement runs after the function has the values.

If the function has a process keyword, each object in $input is removedfrom $input and assigned to $_. The following example has a processstatement list:

function Get-PipelineInput{ process {"Processing: $_ " } end {"End: The input is: $input" }}

In this example, each object that's piped to the function is sent to theprocess statement list. The process statements run on each object, oneobject at a time. The $input automatic variable is empty when the functionreaches the end keyword.

1,2,4 | Get-PipelineInput
Processing: 1Processing: 2Processing: 4End: The input is:

For more information, see Using Enumerators

PowerShell 7.3 added the clean block. The clean block is a convenient wayfor users to clean up resources created and used in the begin, process, andend blocks. It's semantically similar to a finally block that covers allother named blocks of a script function or a script cmdlet. Resource cleanup isenforced for the following scenarios:

  1. when the pipeline execution finishes normally without terminating error
  2. when the pipeline execution is interrupted due to terminating error
  3. when the pipeline is halted by Select-Object -First
  4. when the pipeline is being stopped by Ctrl+C orStopProcessing()


Adding the clean block is a breaking change. Because clean is parsed as akeyword, it prevents users from directly calling a command named clean asthe first statement in a script block. However, it's not likely to be aproblem. The command can still be invoked using the call operator(& clean).


A filter is a type of function that runs on each object in the pipeline. Afilter resembles a function with all its statements in a process block.

The syntax of a filter is as follows:

filter [<scope:>]<name> {<statement list>}

The following filter takes log entries from the pipeline and then displayseither the whole entry or only the message portion of the entry:

filter Get-ErrorLog ([switch]$Message){ if ($Message) { Out-Host -InputObject $_.Message } else { $_ }}

It can be used as follows:

Get-WinEvent -LogName System -MaxEvents 100 | Get-ErrorLog -Message

Function Scope

A function exists in the scope in which it's created.

If a function is part of a script, the function is available to statementswithin that script. By default, a function in a script isn't available outsideof that script.

(Video) Functions in PowerShell

You can specify the scope of a function. For example, the function is added tothe global scope in the following example:

function global:Get-DependentSvs { Get-Service | Where-Object {$_.DependentServices}}

When a function is in the global scope, you can use the function in scripts,in functions, and at the command line.

Functions create a new scope. The items created in a function, such asvariables, exist only in the function scope.

For more information, see about_Scopes.

Finding and Managing Functions Using the Function: Drive

All the functions and filters in PowerShell are automatically stored in theFunction: drive. This drive is exposed by the PowerShell Functionprovider.

When referring to the Function: drive, type a colon after Function, justas you would do when referencing the C or D drive of a computer.

The following command displays all the functions in the current session ofPowerShell:

Get-ChildItem function:

The commands in the function are stored as a script block in the definitionproperty of the function. For example, to display the commands in the Helpfunction that comes with PowerShell, type:

(Get-ChildItem function:help).Definition

You can also use the following syntax.


For more information about the Function: drive, see the help topic for theFunction provider. Type Get-Help Function.

Reusing Functions in New Sessions

When you type a function at the PowerShell command prompt, the function becomespart of the current session. The function is available until the session ends.

To use your function in all PowerShell sessions, add the function to yourPowerShell profile. For more information about profiles, seeabout_Profiles.

You can also save your function in a PowerShell script file. Type your functionin a text file, and then save the file with the .ps1 filename extension.

Writing Help for Functions

The Get-Help cmdlet gets help for functions, as well as for cmdlets,providers, and scripts. To get help for a function, type Get-Help followed bythe function name.

For example, to get help for the Get-MyDisks function, type:

Get-Help Get-MyDisks

You can write help for a function using either of the two following methods:

  • Comment-Based Help for Functions

    Create a help topic using special keywords in the comments. To createcomment-based help for a function, the comments must be placed at thebeginning or end of the function body or on the lines preceding the functionkeyword. For more information about comment-based help, seeabout_Comment_Based_Help.

  • XML-Based Help for Functions

    Create an XML-based help topic, such as the type that's typically created forcmdlets. XML-based help is required if you are localizing help topics intomultiple languages.

    (Video) PowerShell Intermediate Tutorial 1 : Custom Functions [Intermediate]

    To associate the function with the XML-based help topic, use the.EXTERNALHELP comment-based help keyword. Without this keyword, Get-Helpcan't find the function help topic and calls to Get-Help for the functionreturn only autogenerated help.

    For more information about the .EXTERNALHELP keyword, seeabout_Comment_Based_Help. For more information about XML-based help,see How to Write Cmdlet Help.

See also

  • about_Automatic_Variables
  • about_Comment_Based_Help
  • about_Function_Provider
  • about_Functions_Advanced
  • about_Functions_Advanced_Methods
  • about_Functions_Advanced_Parameters
  • about_Functions_CmdletBindingAttribute
  • about_Functions_OutputTypeAttribute
  • about_Parameters
  • about_Profiles
  • about_Scopes
  • about_Script_Blocks


1. PowerShell: Writing Functions
(Bryan Cafferky)
2. Basic PowerShell Functions : PSB E12
(PowerShell Bytes)
3. Functions and Advanced functions in PowerShell | Hindi | Lecture 15 | PowerShell Tutorial in Hindi
(Rahul ki PaathShaala)
4. Powershell Functions
(Tips For IT Pros)
5. Create a Simple FUNCTION in Powershell!
6. PowerShell Advanced Functions
(Adam Driscoll)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Otha Schamberger

Last Updated: 04/28/2023

Views: 5681

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Otha Schamberger

Birthday: 1999-08-15

Address: Suite 490 606 Hammes Ferry, Carterhaven, IL 62290

Phone: +8557035444877

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: Fishing, Flying, Jewelry making, Digital arts, Sand art, Parkour, tabletop games

Introduction: My name is Otha Schamberger, I am a vast, good, healthy, cheerful, energetic, gorgeous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.