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PSReadLine

This module replaces the command line editing experience of PowerShell for versions 3 and up. It provides:

  • Syntax coloring
  • Simple syntax error notification
  • A good multi-line experience (both editing and history)
  • Customizable key bindings
  • Cmd and emacs modes (neither are fully implemented yet, but both are usable)
  • Many configuration options
  • Bash style completion (optional in Cmd mode, default in Emacs mode)
  • Bash/zsh style interactive history search (CTRL-R)
  • Emacs yank/kill ring
  • PowerShell token based "word" movement and kill
  • Undo/redo
  • Automatic saving of history, including sharing history across live sessions
  • "Menu" completion (somewhat like Intellisense, select completion with arrows) via Ctrl+Space

The "out of box" experience is meant to be very familiar to PowerShell users - there should be no need to learn any new key strokes.

Keith Hill wrote a great introduction to PSReadLine here.

Ed Wilson (Scripting Guy) wrote a series on PSReadLine, starting here.

Installation

There are multiple ways to install PSReadLine.

Install from PowerShellGallery (preferred)

You will need the 1.6.0 or a higher version of PowerShellGet to install the latest prerelease version of PSReadLine.

Windows PowerShell 5.1 ships an older version of PowerShellGet which doesn't support installing prerelease modules, so Windows PowerShell users need to install the latest PowerShellGet (if not yet) by running the following commands from an elevated Windows PowerShell session:

Install-Module -Name PowerShellGet -Force
Exit

After installing PowerShellGet, you can simply run Install-Module PSReadLine -AllowPrerelease -Force to get the latest prerelease version of PSReadLine. If you only want to get the latest stable version, run Install-Module PSReadLine.

[!NOTE] Prerelease versions will have newer features and bug fixes, but may also introduce new issues.

If you are using Windows PowerShell on Windows 10 or using PowerShell 6+, PSReadLine is already installed. Windows PowerShell on the latest Windows 10 has version 2.0.0-beta2 of PSReadLine. PowerShell 6+ versions have the newer prerelease versions of PSReadLine.

Install from GitHub (deprecated)

With the preview release of PowerShellGet for PowerShell V3/V4, downloads from GitHub are deprecated. We don't intend to update releases on GitHub, and may remove the release entirely from GitHub at some point.

Post Installation

If you are using Windows PowerShell V5 or V5.1 versions, or using PowerShell 6+ versions, you are good to go and can skip this section.

Otherwise, you need to edit your profile to import the module. There are two profile files commonly used and the instructions are slightly different for each. The file C:\Users\[User]\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\profile.ps1 is used for all hosts (e.g. the ISE and powershell.exe). If you already have this file, then you should add the following:

if ($host.Name -eq 'ConsoleHost')
{
    Import-Module PSReadLine
}

Alternatively, the file C:\Users\[User]\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Microsoft.PowerShell_profile.ps1 is for powershell.exe only. Using this file, you can simply add:

Import-Module PSReadLine

In either case, you can create the appropriate file if you don't already have one.

Upgrading

When running one of the suggested commands below, be sure to exit all instances of powershell.exe, pwsh.exe or pwsh, then run the suggested command from cmd.exe, powershell_ise.exe, or via the Win+R shortcut to make sure PSReadLine isn't loaded.

If you are using the version of PSReadLine that ships with Windows PowerShell, you need to run: powershell -noprofile -command "Install-Module PSReadLine -Force -SkipPublisherCheck -AllowPrerelease".

If you are using the version of PSReadLine that ships with PowerShell 6+ versions, you need to run: <path-to-pwsh-executable> -noprofile -command "Install-Module PSReadLine -Force -SkipPublisherCheck -AllowPrerelease".

If you've installed PSReadLine yourself from the PowerShell Gallery, you can simply run: powershell -noprofile -command "Update-Module PSReadLine -AllowPrerelease" or <path-to-pwsh-executable> -noprofile -command "Update-Module PSReadLine -AllowPrerelease", depending on the version of PowerShell you are using.

If you get an error like:

Remove-Item : Cannot remove item
C:\Users\{yourName}\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\PSReadLine\Microsoft.PowerShell.PSReadLine.dll: Access to the path
'C:\Users\{yourName}\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\PSReadLine\Microsoft.PowerShell.PSReadLine.dll' is denied.

Then you didn't kill all the processes that loaded PSReadLine.

Usage

To start using, just import the module:

Import-Module PSReadLine

To use Emacs key bindings, you can use:

Set-PSReadLineOption -EditMode Emacs

To view the current key bindings:

Get-PSReadLineKeyHandler

There are many configuration options, see the options to Set-PSReadLineOption. PSReadLine has help for it's cmdlets as well as an about_PSReadLine topic - see those topics for more detailed help.

To set your own custom keybindings, use the cmdlet Set-PSReadLineKeyHandler. For example, for a better history experience, try:

Set-PSReadLineKeyHandler -Key UpArrow -Function HistorySearchBackward
Set-PSReadLineKeyHandler -Key DownArrow -Function HistorySearchForward

With these bindings, up arrow/down arrow will work like PowerShell/cmd if the current command line is blank. If you've entered some text though, it will search the history for commands that start with the currently entered text.

To enable bash style completion without using Emacs mode, you can use:

Set-PSReadLineKeyHandler -Key Tab -Function Complete

Here is a more interesting example of what is possible:

Set-PSReadLineKeyHandler -Chord 'Oem7','Shift+Oem7' `
                         -BriefDescription SmartInsertQuote `
                         -LongDescription "Insert paired quotes if not already on a quote" `
                         -ScriptBlock {
    param($key, $arg)

    $line = $null
    $cursor = $null
    [Microsoft.PowerShell.PSConsoleReadLine]::GetBufferState([ref]$line, [ref]$cursor)

    if ($line[$cursor] -eq $key.KeyChar) {
        # Just move the cursor
        [Microsoft.PowerShell.PSConsoleReadLine]::SetCursorPosition($cursor + 1)
    }
    else {
        # Insert matching quotes, move cursor to be in between the quotes
        [Microsoft.PowerShell.PSConsoleReadLine]::Insert("$($key.KeyChar)" * 2)
        [Microsoft.PowerShell.PSConsoleReadLine]::GetBufferState([ref]$line, [ref]$cursor)
        [Microsoft.PowerShell.PSConsoleReadLine]::SetCursorPosition($cursor - 1)
    }
}

In this example, when you type a single quote or double quote, there are two things that can happen. If the character following the cursor is not the quote typed, then a matched pair of quotes is inserted and the cursor is placed inside the the matched quotes. If the character following the cursor is the quote typed, the cursor is simply moved past the quote without inserting anything. If you use Resharper or another smart editor, this experience will be familiar.

Note that with the handler written this way, it correctly handles Undo - both quotes will be undone with one undo.

The sample profile file has a bunch of great examples to check out. This file is included when PSReadLine is installed.

See the public methods of [Microsoft.PowerShell.PSConsoleReadLine] to see what other built-in functionality you can modify.

If you want to change the command line in some unimplmented way in your custom key binding, you can use the methods:

    [Microsoft.PowerShell.PSConsoleReadLine]::GetBufferState
    [Microsoft.PowerShell.PSConsoleReadLine]::Insert
    [Microsoft.PowerShell.PSConsoleReadLine]::Replace
    [Microsoft.PowerShell.PSConsoleReadLine]::SetCursorPosition

Building

Prerequisites

To build PSReadLine on Windows, Linux, or macOS, you must have .NET Core SDK 2.1.400 or newer installed. The build script also depends on InvokeBuild which can be installed using:

  install-module invokebuild -scope currentuser

Building and running tests

You can create a new build and run tests by simply running within PowerShell:

  invoke-build

After a successful build, the tests are automatically run.

Change Log

The change log is available here.

License

The license is available here.

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