Advanced Windows PowerShell Scripting Video Training

Advanced Windows PowerShell Scripting Video Training
Advanced Windows PowerShell Scripting Video Training

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to read Help Files (Part 1 of 7)

Every job has a mission critical skills that you need to master to perform your duties.  An airline pilot needs to master the safe landing.  A surgeon must master the usage of a scalpel.  You, as a PowerShell coder must master the reading of the help files. 

Reading help files is a regular them on my blog. I receive a lot of request for help.  Not only from moderating the forums on, but I also get contacted out of the blue for consulting.  I look at the code that was generated and I sometimes just want to say “What were you thinking?”  I think that because of mistakes that reading the help files would have prevented from happening.

Normally not reading the help files is due to either a lack of knowledge about the help files or just a plain lack of motivation.  I cannot do anything about an individual’s motivation level, but I can help with the knowledge part.  The PowerShell help system is very robust. In this series, I plan on walking you through a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to use the help system.

Since PowerShell V3, we have had updatable help.  That means that you must update the help system before it provides you with any real information.  To do this, open PowerShell as an Administrator and execute the command Update-Help.  I suggest doing this in the shell.  You can do this in the ISE, but it takes longer.  Update-Help uses your internet connection to download the help files for all modules stored in the locations specified by $env:PsModulePath.  To see these locations:


PS C:\> $Env:PSModulePath.Split(";")
C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Azure\PowerShell\ServiceManagement

If you install a new feature or software that has a PowerShell module, you will need to run Update-Help once again.  Update-Help will only update once every 24 hours so you may have to run

Update-Help –Force

Tomorrow we will look at the basic help file.

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