PowerShell for Unixers

Perm url with updates: http://xahlee.org/powershell/PowerShell_for_unixer.html

PowerShell for Unixers

Xah Lee, 2009-07-26, 2010-08-08

This pages shows the equivalent of PowerShell for common unix commands related to text processing, such as grep, head, find, sort, uniq, wc etc. The version of unix tool used here are Bash and GNU. (that's most linuxes, but not BSDs, Solaris, Mac OS X.)

For simpler things such as “cd”, “mkdir”, “ls”, etc, see PowerShell as Bash.

Quick Mirror

Here is a quick table of constructs that are roughly of the same purpose.

create new filetouch ffni ff -type file
cat ffcat ff
cat f1 f2 > new.txtcat f1, f2 > new.txt
Display first n lineshead -n 50 ffcat ff | select -first 50
tailcat file | select -last 50
list dirsfind . -type dGet-ChildItem . -Recurse -name
find . -type f?
find . -name "*html"Get-ChildItem . -Recurse -name -include *html
find . -size 0ls . -recurse | where {$_.length -eq 0}
find . -type f -size 0 -exec rm {} \;?
grep xyz f.txtselect-string f.txt -pattern xyz -CaseSensitive
grep xyz *htmlselect-string *html -pattern xyz -CaseSensitive
grep's --ignore-case or -iselect-string without -CaseSensitive
grep's --invert-matchselect-string with -NotMatch
grep's --files-with-matches
compare file differencediff f1 f2diff (cat f1) (cat f2)
print nth columnawk '{print $12 , $7}'?
uniqsort -Unique

Work In Progress

Note: this page is a mess. It's work in progress. (started when i wished to convert my log processing bash script to PowerShell)

todo, shew PowerShell equivalent of this:

find . -print0 | xargs -0 -l -i echo "{}";
find . -name "*bmp" -print0 | xargs -0 -l -i basename -s ".bmp" "{}" | xargs -0 -l -i convert "{}.bmp" "{}.png". 


# creating a new file in current dir
touch myfile.txt
# creating a new file in current dir
new-item -name myfile.txt -type "file"
Redirect “>”
# put content in a file
echo "some" > myfile.txt
echo "some more" >> myfile.txt # append
# put content in a file
"some" > myfile.txt
"some more" >> myfile.txt # append

Note that, by default, the PowerShell redirect operator ">" creates files with little endian utf-16 encoding, and lines are hard-wrapped at 80 chars, and line ending uses Windows convension of "\r\n" (ascii 13 and 10).

On unixes, the conventional file encoding is utf-8, and lines are not hard-wrapped (sometimes truncated (deleted) silently), and line ending uses "\n" (ascii 10).

To create unix style output, use out-file, like this:

"1'n2'n3" | out-file -Encoding utf8 -width 999000 myfile.txt

However, the line ending used is still "\r\n". To create unix line ending of just "\n", use:

... | Out-String | %{ $_.Replace("`r`n","`n") } | out-file ...

However, the end of the file will still contain a "\r".


Unix “cat” can be used to read a file, or join several files. PowerShell equivalent is “get-content” with alias “cat” too.

# display a file content. (cat is alias of get-content)
cat myfile.txt

Note that by default, PowerShell assumes ascii. You can set your $OutputEncoding like this:

# set $OutputEncoding to utf-8
$OutputEncoding = New-Object -typename System.Text.UTF8Encoding

Thanks to Shivashis Saha for addition on “cat”. He also sends the following:


For example, if you want to split a line based on ":", you can use the following line:

(given $str is a line with different fields separated by ":")
$temp=@($str -split ":"); 

Super thanks to Jeffrey Snover of Microsoft for helping on about 10 of the items. (he's the inventor of PowerShell)

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