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Navigating the File System

Published: May 20, 2009

Updated: August 9, 2012

Applies To: Windows PowerShell 2.0, Windows PowerShell 3.0

When you start Windows PowerShell®, you might be tempted to type the familiar cd, dir or ls. Do it! cd is an alias for the Set-Location cmdlet, the cmdlet that changes the current location to the specified path. dir and ls are aliases for the Get-Childitem cmdlet, the cmdlet that gets the child items in a location.

To navigate within the file system drive, use the Set-Location (cd) and Get-Childitem (dir, ls) cmdlets. In Windows PowerShell, drives are indicated by the drive name followed by a colon (:), such as C:, and parent items are separated from child item by backslashes (\) or forward slashes (/), such as C:\Windows\System32.

There are a few features that make it easier to navigate in Windows PowerShell:

  • There are symbols for the current directory (.) and the contents of a directory (*).

  • There are built-in variables for your home directory, $home, and the Windows PowerShell installation directory, $pshome.

As in other shells, you can change locations, create, delete, move, and copy directories and files, and change their properties. You can even use tab-completion for path names. For details, see Help for the Item cmdlets (Get-Item, Get-Childitem, New-Item, Remove-Item, Set-Item, Move-Item, and Copy-Item).

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