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Viewing Object Structure (Get-Member)

Updated: October 17, 2013

Applies To: Windows PowerShell 2.0, Windows PowerShell 3.0, Windows PowerShell 4.0, Windows PowerShell 5.0

Because objects play such a central role in Windows PowerShell, there are several native commands designed to work with arbitrary object types. The most important one is the Get-Member command.

The simplest technique for analyzing the objects that a command returns is to pipe the output of that command to the Get-Member cmdlet. The Get-Member cmdlet shows you the formal name of the object type and a complete listing of its members. The number of elements that are returned can sometimes be overwhelming. For example, a process object can have over 100 members.

To see all the members of a Process object and page the output so you can view all of it, type:

PS> Get-Process | Get-Member | Out-Host -Paging

The output from this command will look something like this:

   TypeName: System.Diagnostics.Process

Name                           MemberType     Definition
----                           ----------     ----------
Handles                        AliasProperty  Handles = Handlecount
Name                           AliasProperty  Name = ProcessName
NPM                            AliasProperty  NPM = NonpagedSystemMemorySize
PM                             AliasProperty  PM = PagedMemorySize
VM                             AliasProperty  VM = VirtualMemorySize
WS                             AliasProperty  WS = WorkingSet
add_Disposed                   Method         System.Void add_Disposed(Event...

We can make this long list of information more usable by filtering for elements we want to see. The Get-Member command lets you list only members that are properties. There are several forms of properties. The cmdlet displays properties of any type if we set the Get-MemberMemberType parameter to the value Properties. The resulting list is still very long, but a bit more manageable:

PS> Get-Process | Get-Member -MemberType Properties

   TypeName: System.Diagnostics.Process

Name                       MemberType     Definition
----                       ----------     ----------
Handles                    AliasProperty  Handles = Handlecount
Name                       AliasProperty  Name = ProcessName
ExitCode                   Property       System.Int32 ExitCode {get;}
Handle                     Property       System.IntPtr Handle {get;}
CPU                        ScriptProperty System.Object CPU {get=$this.Total...
Path                       ScriptProperty System.Object Path {get=$this.Main...
The allowed values of MemberType are AliasProperty, CodeProperty, Property, NoteProperty, ScriptProperty, Properties, PropertySet, Method, CodeMethod, ScriptMethod, Methods, ParameterizedProperty, MemberSet, and All.

There are over 60 properties for a process. The reason Windows PowerShell often shows only a handful of properties for any well-known object is that showing all of them would produce an unmanageable amount of information.

Windows PowerShell determines how to display an object type by using information stored in XML files that have names ending in .format.ps1xml. The formatting data for process objects, which are .NET System.Diagnostics.Process objects, is stored in PowerShellCore.format.ps1xml.

If you need to look at properties other than those that Windows PowerShell displays by default, you will need to format the output data yourself. This can be done by using the format cmdlets.

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