Export (0) Print
Expand All

about_Environment_Variables

Updated: November 18, 2009

Applies To: Windows PowerShell 2.0

TOPIC
    about_Environment_Variables

SHORT DESCRIPTION
    Describes how to access Windows environment variables in Windows
    PowerShell. 
    

LONG DESCRIPTION
    Environment variables store information about the operating system
    environment. This information includes details such as the operating 
    system path, the number of processors used by the operating system, 
    and the location of temporary folders. 

    The environment variables store data that is used by the operating system
    and other programs. For example, the WINDIR environment variable
    contains the location of the Windows installation directory. Programs
    can query the value of this variable to determine where Windows operating
    system files are located.

    Windows PowerShell lets you view and change Windows environment variables, 
    including the variables set in the registry, and those set for a particular
    session. The Windows PowerShell environment provider simplifies this process
    by making it easy to view and change the environment variables.
    
    Unlike other types of variables in Windows PowerShell, environment variables
    and their values are inherited by child sessions, such as local background
    jobs and the sessions in which module members run. This makes environment
    variables well suited to storing values that are needed in both parent and
    child sessions.
   

  Windows PowerShell Environment Provider
      The Windows PowerShell environment provider lets you access Windows
      environment variables in Windows PowerShell in a Windows PowerShell drive
      (the Env: drive). This drive looks much like a file system drive. To go 
      to the Env: drive, type:


	  set-location env:


      Then, to display the contents of the Env: drive, type:


	  get-childitem


      You can view the environment variables in the Env: drive from any other
      Windows PowerShell drive, and you can go into the Env: drive to view and
      change the environment variables.


  Environment Variable Objects    
      In Windows PowerShell, each environment variable is represented by an
      object that is an instance of the System.Collections.DictionaryEntry
      class.

	
      In each DictionaryEntry object, the name of the environment variable
      is the dictionary key. The value of the variable is the dictionary
      value.


      To display an environment variable in Windows PowerShell, get an object 
      that represents the variable, and then display the values of the object 
      properties. When you change an environment variable in Windows 
      PowerShell, use the methods that are associated with the DictionaryEntry
      object.


      To display the properties and methods of the object that represents an
      environment variable in Windows PowerShell, use the Get-Member cmdlet.
      For example, to display the methods and properties of all the objects
      in the Env: drive, type:


	  get-item -path env:* | get-member


  Displaying Environment Variables
      You can use the cmdlets that contain the Item noun (the Item cmdlets) to 
      display and change the values of environment variables. Because 
      environment variables do not have child items, the output of Get-Item
      and Get-ChildItem is the same.


      When you refer to an environment variable, type the Env: drive name 
      followed by the name of the variable. For example, to display the value 
      of the COMPUTERNAME environment variable, type:


	  get-childitem env:computername


      To display the values of all the environment variables, type:


	  get-childitem env:


      By default, Windows PowerShell displays the environment variables in the
      order in which it retrieves them. To sort the list of environment 
      variables by variable name, pipe the output of a Get-ChildItem command to
      the Sort-Object cmdlet. For example, from any Windows PowerShell drive, 
      type:


	  get-childitem env: | sort name


      You can also go into the Env: drive by using the Set-Location cmdlet:


	  set-location env:


      When you are in the Env: drive, you can omit the Env: drive name from
      the path. For example, to display all the environment variables, type:


	  get-childitem


      To display the value of the COMPUTERNAME variable from within the
      Env: drive, type:


	  get-childitem computername


      You can also display and change the values of environment variables
      without using a cmdlet by using the expression parser in Windows
      PowerShell. To display the value of an environment variable, use the
      following syntax:


	  $env:<variable-name>


      For example, to display the value of the WINDIR environment variable,
      type the following command at the Windows PowerShell command prompt:


	  $env:windir


      In this syntax, the dollar sign ($) indicates a variable, and the drive
      name indicates an environment variable.


  Changing Environment Variables
      To make a persistent change to an environment variable, use System in
      Control Panel (Advanced tab or the Advanced System Settings item) to
      store the change in the registry.

      When you change environment variables in Windows PowerShell, the change
      affects only the current session. This behavior resembles the behavior
      of the Set command in Windows-based environments and the Setenv command
      in UNIX-based environments. 

      You must also have permission to change the values of the variables. If
      you try to change a value without sufficient permission, the command 
      fails, and Windows PowerShell displays an error.

      You can change the values of variables without using a cmdlet by using
      the following syntax:


          $env:<variable-name> = "<new-value>"


      For example, to append ";c:\temp" to the value of the Path
      environment variable, use the following syntax:


	  $env:path = $env:path + ";c:\temp"
	

      You can also use the Item cmdlets, such as Set-Item, Remove-Item, and 
      Copy-Item to change the values of environment variables. For example, to 
      use the Set-Item cmdlet to append ";c:\temp" to the value of the Path
      environment variable, use the following syntax:


          set-item -path env:path -value ($env:path + ";c:\temp")

	
      In this command, the value is enclosed in parentheses so that it is 
      interpreted as a unit.


  Saving Changes to Environment Variables
      To create or change the value of an environment variable in every
      Windows PowerShell session, add the change to your Windows PowerShell
      profile.

      For example, to add the C:\Temp directory to the Path environment
      variable in every Windows PowerShell session, add the following 
      command to your Windows PowerShell profile.

	  $env:path = $env:path + ";c:\temp"

      To add the command to an existing profile, such as the CurrentUser,AllHosts
      profile, type:

	  add-content -path $profile.CurrentUserAllHosts -value '$env:path = $env:path + ";c:\temp"'
       

  Environment Variables That Store Preferences
      Windows PowerShell features can use environment variables to store user
      preferences. These variables work like preference variables, but they
      are inherited by child sessions of the sessions in which they are created. 
      For more information about preference variables, see about_preference_variables.

      The environment variables that store preferences include:

        PSExecutionPolicyPreference
            Stores the execution policy set for the current session. This
            environment variable exists only when you set an execution policy
            for a single session. You can do this in two different ways.

            -- Use PowerShell.exe to start a session at the command line and
               use its ExecutionPolicy parameter to set the execution policy for
               the session. 

            -- Use the Set-ExecutionPolicy cmdlet. Use the Scope parameter with
               a value of "Process".
 
            For more information, see about_Execution_Policies.
            

        PSModulePath
            Stores the paths to the default module directories. Windows PowerShell
            looks for modules in the specified directories when you do not specify
            a full path to a module.

            The default value of $env:PSModulePath is:

                $home\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Modules; $pshome\Modules
        
            Windows PowerShell sets the value of "$pshome\Modules" in the registry.
            It sets the value of "$home\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Modules" each
            time you start Windows PowerShell. 

            In addition, setup programs that install modules in other directories,
            such as the Program Files directory, append their locations to the
            value of PSModulePath.            

            To change the default module directories, change the value of the
            PSModulePath environment variable.

            For example, to add the "C:\ps-test\Modules" directory to the value
            of the PSModulePath environment variable, type:

                $env:PSModulePath = $env:PSModulePath + ";c:\ps-test\Modules"

            The semi-colon (;) in the command separates the new path from the
            path that precedes it in the list.

            Your changes affect only the current session unless you add a
            command that changes the value to your profile or use System in
            Control Panel to change the value of the PSModulePath environment
            variable in the registry.
            
            For more information, see about_Modules.


SEE ALSO
    Environment (provider)
Was this page helpful?
(1500 characters remaining)
Thank you for your feedback

Community Additions

Show:
© 2014 Microsoft