PowerShell: Advanced Profile

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In my last post almost 6 months ago I spoke about PowerShell profiles, especially how I preferred a simple profile. If you are just doing some simple things that you need right away or aren’t administering an application like Azure, SharePoint or Office365 then you can suffice with the simple profile. Since I manage Office365 and the applications mentioned above I have morphed to a second profile that I now load to load everything that I need for those applications. The time entering my username and password for those accounts, saves on having to load a different PS1 or create a function to do it later. My thoughts about not creating the function is if I do it once the first time I can just continue working without stopping when I need to do something in those applications.

My previous profile looked like this:

set-location c:\Powershell
$a = (Get-Host).PrivateData
$a.ErrorForegroundColor = “green”

Just your basic profile that sets my default location, and sets the color of the evil error message RED to easier to read GREEN on the blue background. Now for my work within all of the applications that I admin this is the profile I use:

set-location c:\PowerShell
$env:path += “;C:\PowerShell”
$host.ui.RawUI.WindowTitle = “Administrator – Sysadmin Mode”
$Shell = $Host.UI.RawUI
$a = (Get-Host).PrivateData
$a.ErrorForegroundColor = “green”
import-module MSOnline
Import-Module AzureAD
Import-Module AzureADPreview
Import-Module ‘C:\Program Files\SharePoint Online Management Shell\Microsoft.Online.SharePoint.PowerShell’
$cred = Get-Credential
Connect-MsolService -Credential $cred
Connect-AzureAD -Credential $cred
Connect-SPOService -Url https://company-admin.sharepoint.com -Credential $cred

So, that is a lot more involved, but I only interact with the loading of the profile once at the line: $cred = Get-Credential, which is where I enter my credentials for Office365. Obviously our AzureAD is connected to Office365 which includes our SharePoint too so I only need to enter my credentials once.

First a disclaimer: I close this profile shell when I leave the computer even though I lock the computer screen.  This is best practice so that if anyone gains access to my workstation, they do not gain access to my Sysadmin account in PowerShell to do damage. We change our passwords on a regular basis to prevent access as is also best practice, but anything you can do to lower a hackers attack surface the better.

So, what does this all do? Well that is a pretty good question.

  1. I set the default location of my console as my PowerShell folder that contains all my scripts.
  2. I add the PowerShell folder to the system path
  3. Change the title of the shell to let me know I am running in Sysadmin mode.
  4. Set the system shell as the current console
  5. Set the error color to green
  6. Import all the Modules I need to make sure they do get loaded, including the SharePoint Module that is an MSI install
  7. Store my credentials for this session for use logging in
  8. Connect to all the services using the credentials I supplied. The SharePoint SPOService would need you to replace the word “company” with your company name.


I believe that this front end work saves me a lot of time when I have to do something in SharePoint or the SAAS client or AzureAD.


PowerShell: Get Computer Software and Version

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Something that I have found useful in getting a hard copy of is a computers installed software, vendor and version. Today I’m just going to work with the local computer. In another post I will talk about the ability to get all software installed on a group of computers. In PowerShell there are a few ways to do what I am going to show you. The one I prefer is Get-CimInstance. I use this over Get-WMIObject becasue it gets me more information and Get-WMIObject is actually the older way from PS 2.0. It has really been replaced with Get-CimInstance. If you go to Introduction to CIM Cmdlets (MSDN Blog) you will find this quote:

“Getting/Enumerating instance of a class is the most commonly performed operation. We wanted the new Get-CimInstance Cmdlet to have better performance and even better user experience as compared to the old Get-WmiObject cmdlet. To achieve these goals we made the following design decisions:”

So, how do I write the code?

Get-ciminstance Win32_Product


Gcim Win32_Product (gcim is the alias for Get-Ciminstance)

That just spits out the information in the ugly format below:


I like my data so I can read it properly and with all the data I really want. Lets add a Piped command:

| Format-Table name, version, vendor

This gives you the results below:


Okay, so that’s nice, but how about in a CSV file that I can print or look at later? Cool, lets do it:

Gcim Win32_Product | Select-Object name, version, vendor | Export-Csv C:\software1.csv

I know, your saying wait you changed the second line from Format-Table to Select-Object and you would be correct. Why did I change it, well format-Table is for output to the console, not for something you are piping to Export-CSV. You have to Select the Objects you want to send to the CSV file to get proper data. Go ahead and try to use the Format-Table once to see you get nothing you can use in the CSV file. The output you get when you use the Select-Object is below. That’s how I would like it, how about you?


Get-Alias, What Alias?

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Yes PowerShell has aliases for its commands, a lot of them. While typing them out long hand does have intellisense and tab completion, its much easier if you get used to using the aliases of your most used commands. Even Get-Alias has an alias “gal” that will list to the console the basic information below. Figure 1 is not the complete list, just a snippet as the list is way too long, but the idea is that you can only look at it, you can’t open it and refer to it to learn them.

I exported them to a CSV using the line: gal | Export-CSV -Filename which gave me a lot more data and I just deleted the 10 rows I didn’t need. I could have went ahead and selected names to shorten the out too, but its always nice to see what PowerShell provides you. One thing it does for the Get-Alias that you don’t see is the Microsoft link to the help page for that command. See figure 2 below to see the output.

Not only save time with less typing, it gives me shortcuts to look at the whole command in a browser instead of in a console with Get-Help and needing to know the parameters that go with it.

Figure 1

CommandType Name
Alias gc  ->  Get-Content
Alias gcb  ->  Get-Clipboard
Alias gci  ->  Get-ChildItem
Alias gcm  ->  Get-Command
Alias gcs  ->  Get-PSCallStack
Alias gdr  ->  Get-PSDrive
Alias ghy  ->  Get-History
Alias gi  ->  Get-Item
Alias gjb  ->  Get-Job
Alias gl  ->  Get-Location
Alias gm  ->  Get-Member
Alias gmo  ->  Get-Module
Alias gp  ->  Get-ItemProperty
Alias gps  ->  Get-Process
Alias gpv  ->  Get-ItemPropertyValue
Alias group  ->  Group-Object
Alias gsn  ->  Get-PSSession
Alias gsnp  ->  Get-PSSnapin
Alias gsv  ->  Get-Service
Alias gu  ->  Get-Unique
Alias gv  ->  Get-Variable
Alias gwmi  ->  Get-WmiObject

Figure 2

HelpUri ResolvedCommandName Name
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=113278 Add-Content ac
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=113281 Add-PSSnapin asnp
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=113282 Clear-Content clc
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=135199 Clear-History clhy
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=225747 Clear-Host clear
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=225747 Clear-Host cls
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=113283 Clear-Item cli