Short description

Describes the support available for ANSI escape sequences in PowerShell.

Long description

PowerShell has many features that support the use of ANSI escape sequences to control the rendering of output in the terminal application that's hosting PowerShell.

PowerShell 7.2 added a new automatic variable, $PSStyle, and changes to the PowerShell engine to support the output of ANSI-decorated text.

ANSI Terminal support

The ANSI features are designed to be compatible with the xterm-based terminals. For more information, see xterm in Wikipedia.

On Windows 10 and higher, the Windows Console Host is xterm compatible. The Windows Terminal application is also xterm compatible.

On macOS, the default terminal application is xterm compatible.

For Linux, each distribution ships with a different terminal application. Consult the documentation for your distribution to find a suitable terminal application.


The variable has the following properties:

  • Reset - Turns off all decorations
  • Blink - Turns Blink on
  • BlinkOff - Turns Blink off
  • Bold - Turns Bold on
  • BoldOff - Turns Bold off
  • Hidden - Turns Hidden on
  • HiddenOff - Turns Hidden off
  • Reverse - Turns Reverse on
  • ReverseOff - Turns Reverse off
  • Italic - Turns Italic on
  • ItalicOff - Turns Italic off
  • Underline - Turns underlining on
  • UnderlineOff - Turns underlining off
  • Strikethrough - Turns strike through on
  • StrikethroughOff - Turns strike through off
  • OutputRendering - Control when output rendering is used
  • Formatting - Nested object that controls default formatting for output streams
  • Progress - Nested object that controls the rendering of progress bars
  • FileInfo - Nested object to control the coloring of FileInfo objects.
  • Foreground - Nested object to control foreground coloring
  • Background - Nested object to control background coloring

The base members return strings of ANSI escape sequences mapped to their names. The values are settable to allow customization. For example, you could change bold to underlined. The property names makes it easier for you to create decorated strings using tab completion:


The following members control how or when ANSI formatting is used:

  • $PSStyle.OutputRendering is a System.Management.Automation.OutputRendering enum with the values:

    • ANSI: ANSI escape sequences are always passed through as-is.


      You should use ANSI mode when redirecting output to a file or the pipeline that's intended to be executed downstream. This ensures that the output isn't altered. Using any other mode alters the output by removing ANSI escape sequences, which may change the execution behavior.

    • PlainText: ANSI escape sequences are always stripped so that it's only plain text.

    • Host: This is the default behavior. The ANSI escape sequences are removed from redirected or piped output. For more information, see Redirecting output.

  • The $PSStyle.Background and $PSStyle.Foreground members are strings that contain the ANSI escape sequences for the 16 standard console colors.

    • Black
    • BrightBlack
    • White
    • BrightWhite
    • Red
    • BrightRed
    • Magenta
    • BrightMagenta
    • Blue
    • BrightBlue
    • Cyan
    • BrightCyan
    • Green
    • BrightGreen
    • Yellow
    • BrightYellow

    The values are settable and can contain any number of ANSI escape sequences. There is also a FromRgb() method to specify 24-bit color. There are two ways to call the FromRgb() method.

    string FromRgb(byte red, byte green, byte blue)
    string FromRgb(int rgb)

    Either of the following examples set the background color the 24-bit color Beige.

    $PSStyle.Background.FromRgb(245, 245, 220)
  • $PSStyle.Formatting is a nested object to control default formatting of debug, error, verbose, warning messages, and list and table headers. You can also control attributes like bolding and underlining. It replaces $Host.PrivateData as the way to manage colors for formatting rendering. $Host.PrivateData continues to exist for backwards compatibility but isn't connected to $PSStyle.Formatting. $PSStyle.Formatting has the following members:

    • FormatAccent - formatting for list items
    • TableHeader - formatting for table headers
    • ErrorAccent - formatting for error metadata
    • Error - formatting for error messages
    • Warning - formatting for warning messages
    • Verbose - formatting for verbose messages
    • Debug - formatting for debug messages
  • $PSStyle.Progress allows you to control progress view bar rendering.

    • Style - An ANSI string setting the rendering style.
    • MaxWidth - Sets the max width of the view. Defaults to 120. The minimum value is 18.
    • View - An enum with values, Minimal and Classic. Classic is the existing rendering with no changes. Minimal is a single line minimal rendering. Minimal is the default.
    • UseOSCIndicator - Defaults to $false. Set this to $true for terminals that support OSC indicators.


    If the host doesn't support Virtual Terminal, $PSStyle.Progress.View is automatically set to Classic.

    The following example sets the rendering style to a minimal progress bar.

    $PSStyle.Progress.View = 'Minimal'
  • $PSStyle.FileInfo is a nested object to control the coloring of FileInfo objects.

    • Directory - Built-in member to specify color for directories
    • SymbolicLink - Built-in member to specify color for symbolic links
    • Executable - Built-in member to specify color for executables.
    • Extension - Use this member to define colors for different file extensions. The Extension member pre-includes extensions for archive and PowerShell files.


    $PSStyle.FileInfo is only available when the PSAnsiRenderingFileInfo experimental feature is enabled. For more information, see about_Experimental_Features and Using experimental features.

    In PowerShell 7.3, the PSAnsiRenderingFileInfo feature became mainstream and available by default.

Cmdlets that generate ANSI output

  • The markdown cmdlets - the Show-Markdown cmdlet displays the contents of a file containing markdown text. The output is rendered using ANSI sequences to represent different styles. You can manage the definitions of the styles using the Get-MarkdownOption and Set-MarkdownOption cmdlets.
  • PSReadLine cmdlets - the PSReadLine module uses ANSI sequences to colorize PowerShell syntax elements on the command line. The colors can be managed using Get-PSReadLineOption and Set-PSReadLineOption.
  • Get-Error - the Get-Error cmdlet returns a detailed view of an Error object, formatted to make it easier to read.
  • Select-String - Beginning with PowerShell 7.0, Select-String uses ANSI sequences to highlight the matching patterns in the output.
  • Write-Progress - ANSI output is managed using $PSStyle.Progress, as described above. For more information, see Write-Progress

Redirecting output in Host mode

By default, $PSStyle.OutputRendering is a set to Host. The ANSI escape sequences are removed from redirected or piped output.

OutputRendering only applies to rendering in the Host, Out-File, and Out-String. Output from native executables isn't affected.

PowerShell 7.2.6 changed the behavior of Out-File and Out-String for the following scenarios:

  • When the input object is pure string, these cmdlets keep the string unchanged regardless of the OutputRendering setting.
  • When the input object needs to have a formatting view applied to it, these cmdlets keep or remove escape sequences from the formatting output strings based on the OutputRendering setting.

This is a breaking change in these cmdlets compared to PowerShell 7.2.

OutputRendering doesn't apply to output from the PowerShell host process, for example when you run pwsh from a command line and redirect the output.

In the following example, PowerShell is run on Linux from bash. The Get-ChildItem cmdlet produces ANSI-decorated text. Since redirection occurs in the bash process, outside of the PowerShell host, the output isn't affected by OutputRendering.

pwsh -noprofile -command 'Get-Childitem' > out.txt

When you inspect the contents of out.txt you see the ANSI escape sequences.

By contrast, when redirection occurs within the PowerShell session, OutputRendering affects the redirected output.

pwsh -noprofile -command 'Get-Childitem > out.txt'

When you inspect the contents of out.txt there are no ANSI escape sequences.

Disabling ANSI output

Support for ANSI escape sequences can be turned off using the TERM or NO_COLOR environment variables.

The following values of $env:TERM change the behavior as follows:

  • dumb - sets $Host.UI.SupportsVirtualTerminal = $false
  • xterm-mono - sets $PSStyle.OutputRendering = PlainText
  • xtermm - sets $PSStyle.OutputRendering = PlainText

If $env:NO_COLOR exists, then $PSStyle.OutputRendering is set to PlainText. For more information about the NO_COLOR environment variable, see https://no-color.org/.

Using $PSStyle from C#

C# developers can access PSStyle as a singleton, as shown in the following example:

string output = $"{PSStyle.Instance.Foreground.Red}{PSStyle.Instance.Bold}Hello{PSStyle.Instance.Reset}";

PSStyle exists in the System.Management.Automation namespace.

The PowerShell engine includes the following changes:

  • The PowerShell formatting system is updated to respect $PSStyle.OutputRendering.
  • The StringDecorated type is added to handle ANSI escaped strings.
  • The string IsDecorated boolean property was added to return true when the string contains ESC or C1 CSI character sequences.
  • The Length property of a string returns the length for the text without the ANSI escape sequences.
  • The StringDecorated Substring(int contentLength) method returns a substring starting at index 0 up to the content length that'sn't a part of ANSI escape sequences. This is needed for table formatting to truncate strings and preserve ANSI escape sequences that don't take up printable character space.
  • The string ToString() method stays the same and returns the plaintext version of the string.
  • The string ToString(bool Ansi) method returns the raw ANSI embedded string if the Ansi parameter is true. Otherwise, a plaintext version with ANSI escape sequences removed is returned.
  • The FormatHyperlink(string text, uri link) method returns a string containing ANSI escape sequences used to decorate hyperlinks. Some terminal hosts, like the Windows Terminal, support this markup, which makes the rendered text clickable in the terminal.

See also