PowerShell Get-Command: finding the cmdlet

A recent Slack chat reminded me that PowerShell’s Get-Command cmdlet is a good way of finding what commands to use when you encounter a new problem. However it goes beyond typing “Get-Command” and just getting a huge list back- my laptop just gave me 7659 commands to choose from – as this can be unusable. Here’s some quick tips on focussing your search by using the built in arguments.

1. –module

PowerShell and it’s extensions are comprised of modules. If you want to use the cmdlets for interacting with a VMware environment you install their “PowerCLI” module. Get-Command can return just the cmdlets from a specific module, for example we can list all the cmdlets from the VMware modules

Get-Command –Module VMware.*

Or we can list the commands in the Azure Compute PowerShell module

Get-Command –Module Az.Compute

2. –verb

If you’ve used PowerShell before, you’ll know that cmdlet names are all of the format verb (“a doing word” as I was taught at school), followed by a dash,  followed by a noun. So we have Measure-Object, Remove-Disk, and even Get-Command itself. The “-verb” argument can be used to only show us cmdlets with this verb, for example to only see the “Get” cmdlets we use

Get-Command –Verb Get

3. –noun

So, after the dash we have the noun. A disk, network connection, user account, and so on. So to find out all the cmdlets that work on or with services:

Get-Command –Noun Service

4. Combining the above

Of course we can make this even more powerful by combining these arguments together and with wildcards. Let’s say we want to know all the cmdlets for working with VMware vSphere tags?

Get-Command –Module VMware* –Noun *Tag*

Or if we want to find all the get Azure get commands for working with resources, resource groups, resource locks and so on.

Get-Command -Module Az.* -Verb Get -Noun *resource*