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PowerLine - Beautiful, Powerful, PowerShell prompts


You can install PowerLine from the PowerShell gallery, using the following commands:

Install-Module PANSIES -AllowClobber
Install-Module PowerLine
Import-Module PowerLine

NOTE: My PANSIES module for ANSI Escape Sequences is required, and because of how PowerShellGet works, you need to install it separately, as it includes an improved Write-Host (which is faster, and fully backwards compatible), and therefore requires the -AllowClobber switch when installing.

First use configuration

There are quite a few options for PowerLine, and you're going to want to set some of them immediately to take full advantage. Check out the ./Source/Examples for some ideas.

Set-PowerLinePrompt -SetCurrentDirectory -RestoreVirtualTerminal -Newline -Timestamp -Colors "#FFDD00", "#FF6600"

Prompt ScreenShot

You can change the colors by running just that part of the command:

Set-PowerLinePrompt -Colors "#00DDFF", "#0066FF"

Prompt ScreenShot

You can review (or modify) your current blocks by using $prompt, and check which colors it's using with $prompt.colors, but there are also commands like the one above to help out.

Now you can add additional blocks to your prompt, even inserting them into the list. Blocks without output are automatically hidden in PowerLine, so you can write a conditional block like this:

Add-PowerLineBlock { if($pushed = (Get-Location -Stack).count) { "»$pushed" } }  -Index 1

Prompt ScreenShot

Note that in your PowerLine blocks, there is full support for PANSIES Text, which means colors from it's drives, like $fg:red and named HTML Entities like ♥ and € and now, even emoji and nerdfont named entities -- if you enable them.

There are some helper functions in PowerLine for common things you'd want in your prompt, like Get-ShortenedPath and Get-SegmentedPath as well as Get-Elapsed and Test-Elevation and Test-Success.

Once you start playing with the other options, and get it the way you want, you can save it, and Powerline will re-load it on import in the future:


For more information about the configuration --particularly how to get the cool angled separators you see in my screenshots using powerline fonts-- you can skip past this explanation of why I wrote the module, but you should also explore the commands, as this external documentation is always lagging behind the implementation.

Why Powerline?

As a PowerShell user
In order to have the right information available
I need to be able to customize my prompt

As a PowerShell module author
In order to give my users the right information
I need to add information to the user's prompt

As an alpha geek
In order to stand out
I want to have a cool prompt!

Currently in PowerShell, the prompt is a function that must return a string. Modules that want to add information to your prompt typically don't even try if you have customized your prompt (see Posh-Git, for example). The goal of PowerLine is to have beautiful custom prompts and let modules add (and remove) information easily.

Your Prompt as a Collection

The core principle of PowerLine 3 is to make your prompt easier to change, and changes easier to undo.

The idea is to assume a $Prompt variable that's a List of ScriptBlock and just join the output of those scriptblocks:

function prompt {
    -join $prompt.Invoke()

Why Lists of ScriptBlocks?

  1. The user can easily add or remove information on the fly.
  2. Modules can add (and remove) information as they're imported/removed.
  3. We can customize the look separate from the content.

Take this for example, it's the same as the current default prompt, except split in three parts:

[System.Collections.Generic.List[ScriptBlock]]$Prompt = @(
    { "PS " }
    { $executionContext.SessionState.Path.CurrentLocation }
    { '>' * ($nestedPromptLevel + 1) }

This would produce the same output as before, and would have no impact on users who already overwrite the default prompt. In fact, you can switch to this right now, by just putting those two blocks in your profile.

For users:

It's suddenly easy to tweak the prompt. I can remove the unecessary "PS " from the front of my prompt by just running

$Prompt = $Prompt | Select -Skip 1

Or if I wanted to print the current command's HistoryId instead of the "PS", I could just replace that first part:

$Prompt[0] = { "$($MyInvocation.HistoryId) " }

For module authors:

Modules can modify the prompt just as easily. Adding to a list is simpler and easier to undo, plus it's possible for the user to re-order their prompt. Since modules don't have to modify or wrap the actual prompt function, users end up in control.

For example, posh-git can add it's information to the prompt in just one line:


And can hook it's own removal to clean up the status:

$MyInvocation.MyCommand.Module.OnRemove = {
    $Prompt.RemoveAll( {param($_) $_.ToString().Trim() -eq "Write-VcsStatus" } )

Using PowerLine

Of course, with PowerLine, it's even easier. A module can just run:

Add-PowerLineBlock { Write-VcsStatus } -AutoRemove


PowerLine has a lot of flexibility and functionality around output and looks. Because your whole prompt is just a list of script blocks, we can transform your prompt's appearance. You can go from simple to elegant instantly, and then take control of colors and more.

One important aspect of configuring PowerLine is that it supports both the Configuration module and the EzTheme module. It saves it's current configuration when you run Export-PowerLinePrompt and automatically re-imports it when you import the module.

The Configuration Module

As with any module which supports Configuration, you can get the configuration as a hashtable using the Configuration commands:

$Configuration = Get-Module PowerLine | Import-Configuration

You can examine and modify the configuration and then save it back to disk with:

Get-Module PowerLine | Export-Configuration $Configuration

The EzTheme Module

Of course, the EzTheme module supports some of the same functionality as the Configuration module -- it's goal is to support theming lots of modules at once (i.e. with each theme), so you can get your settings with Get-PowerLineTheme which by default will show a preview. You can review the settings by using Format-List, capture them with a variable and modify them (and even preview the modifications). As with any module that supports EzTheme, you can modify the returned object and put it back by piping it to Set-PowerLineTheme.

PowerLine Coloring blocks

The -Colors parameter supports setting the background colors. You can pass a list of colors and PowerLine will loop through them. You can also specify two colors, and PowerLine will generate a gradient between those colors with the same number of steps as you have output blocks.

Basically, each scriptblock which has output (PowerLine cleans up and ignores empty blocks), uses one of those colors, looping back to the first if it runs out. PowerLine automatically selects contrasting colors for the text (foreground) color.

You can set the color with something like this: Set-PowerLinePrompt -Color "#00DDFF","#0066FF"

PowerLine Fonts and Separators

The -PowerLineFont switch requires using a PowerLine font, which is a font that has the extra extended characters with the nice angled separators you see in the screenshots here between colors. There are a lot of monospaced fonts to choose from, and you can even install them all by just cloning the repository and running the install.ps1 script, or you can just pick just one TTF and download and install that.

There are screenshots of all of them here.

If you're not using a PowerLine font, don't use the -PowerLineFont switch, and the module will output common ASCII box characters like ▌ as the separators...

These characters are set into a dictionary ([PoshCode.Pansies.Entities]::ExtendedCharacters) when you call Set-PowerLinePrompt.

Prompts as arrays

By default, each ScriptBlock outputs one string, and is colored in one color, with the "ColorSeparator" character between each block.

However, PowerLine also supports blocks which output arrays. When a ScriptBlock outputs an array of strings, they will be separated with the alternate "Separator" instead of the "ColorSeparator".

All you need to to is start adding things to your $Prompt -- you can do that directly on the list, using $Prompt.Add or $Prompt.Insert, or you can use the Add-PowerLine command.

Right-aligned blocks

If you add a scriptblock that outputs just a tab { "`t" }, blocks after that will be right-aligned until the next block which is just a newline { "`n" }.

For Right-aligned blocks, the "ReverseColorSeparator" or "ReverseSeparator" characters are used instead of the "ColorSeparator" and "Separator".

Characters and Custom Entities

PowerLine uses the Pansies module for coloring and output, so it inherits Pansies' support for HTML named entities like ♥ and © or ¢ and numerical unicode character entities in decimal (Ξ) and hexadeximal (Ξ), so you can easily embed characters.

Additionally, Pansies treats the ExtendedCharacters dictionary of characters mentioned earlier as entities, and has an additional EscapeSequences dictionary which maps entity names to a string. Both of these are modifyable and support adding your own characters, which can then be used as named entities with a & and a ; ...

Helper Functions for Prompts

We recommend that modules which want to add information to the prompt create a function which returns a string, and then add a scriptblock wrapping that single function to the $Prompt using Add-PowerLineBlock (or by hand, as shown above).

There are a few extra functions included as part of the PowerLine module:

Cmdlet Description
New-PromptText A wrapper for New-Text that supports changing foreground or background colors based on whether there's an error or whether the session is elevated.
Get-Elapsed Calls Get-History to get a single command (the most recent, or by ID) and returns the difference between the Start and End execution time.
Get-SegmentedPath Converts a path to an array of Pansies Text objects (one for each folder), with a limit on how many folders to return. Truncates and appends an ellipsis.
Get-ShortenedPath Shortens a path to a specified length, with some options for the output
Test-Elevation Returns True if the current session is elevated, false otherwise
Test-Success Returns True if the last command was successful, false otherwise

Helpers for module authors

PowerLine also provides some additional functions for adding and removing from the prompt list so that modules can add without worrying about doubling up. If Posh-git was to actually adopt the code I mentioned earlier, every time you imported it, they would append to your prompt -- and since they're not cleaning up when you remove the module, they would get re-imported automatically whenever you removed the module.

PowerLine gives you an Add-PowerLineBlock which lets you pass in a ScriptBlock and have it added to the prompt only if it's not already there -- which means the user can move it around, and re-import the module without having it show up twice. It even has an -AutoRemove switch which can be used when adding to the PowerLine from a module to automatically remove that block if the module is removed by the user. And of course, there's a Remove-PowerLineBlock which lets you clean up manually.

There is a New-PromptText function which allows you to change the colors based on elevation, or the success of the last command.

Finally, there are separate Test-Success and Test-Elevation functions (which are used by New-PromptText), if you just want to output something conditionally, or deal with it on your own.

Future Plans

If you have any questions, please ask, and feel free to send me pull requests with additional escape sequences, or whatever.

PowerLine now depends on Pansies for color, special characters, etc.