Short description

PowerShell logs internal operations from the engine, providers, and cmdlets.

Long description

PowerShell logs details of PowerShell operations, such as starting and stopping the engine and starting and stopping providers. It also logs details about PowerShell commands.

The location of PowerShell logs is dependent on the target platform.

  • On Linux, PowerShell logs to the systemd journal that can forward to a syslog server. For more information, see the man pages for your Linux distribution.
  • On macOS, Apple's unified logging system is used. For more information, see Apple's developer documentation on logging.

Configuring logging on Linux or macOS

The configuration for logging on Linux and macOS is stored in the powershell.config.json file. The powershell.config.json file is a JSON formatted file residing in the PowerShell $PSHOME directory. If this configuration file doesn't exist, you'll need to create it to change the default settings. Each installation of PowerShell uses its own copy of this file.

By default, PowerShell enables Informational logging to the Operational channel. You can change the configuration if you require additional log output, such as verbose or enabling analytic log output.

The following code is an example configuration:

  "ScriptBlockLogging": {
    "EnableScriptBlockInvocationLogging": true,
    "EnableScriptBlockLogging": true
  "ModuleLogging": {
    "EnableModuleLogging": false,
    "ModuleNames": [
  "LogLevel": "verbose"

The following is a list of properties for configuring PowerShell logging. If the property isn't listed in the configuration, PowerShell uses the default value.

  • LogIdentity
    • Values: <string name>, powershell
    • Description: The name to use when logging. The default identity is powershell. This value can be used to tell the difference between two instances of a PowerShell installation, such as a release and beta version. This value is also used to redirect log output to a separate file.
  • LogChannels
    • Values: Operational, Analytic
    • Description: The channels to enable. Separate the values with a comma when specifying more than one. The default value is Operational.
  • LogLevel
    • Values: Always, Critical, Error, Warning, Informational, Verbose, Debug
    • Description: Specify a single value. The values are listed in increasing order of verbosity. The value you choose enables itself and all the values before it. The default value is Informational.
  • LogKeywords
    • Values: Runspace, Pipeline, Protocol, Transport, Host, Cmdlets, Serializer, Session, ManagedPlugin
    • Description: Keywords provide the ability to limit logging to specific components within PowerShell. By default, all keywords are enabled and change this value is only useful for specialized troubleshooting.

Viewing PowerShell log data in journald on Linux

PowerShell logs to the systemd journal using the journald daemon on Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

The journald daemon stores log messages in a binary format. Use the journalctl utility to query the journal log for PowerShell entries.

journalctl --grep powershell

The journald daemon can forward log messages to a System Logging Protocol (syslog) server. Enable the ForwardToSysLog option in the /etc/systemd/journald.conf journald configuration file if you want to use syslog logging on your Linux system. This is the default configuration for many Linux distributions.

Viewing PowerShell log data in syslog on Linux

Use the package manager for your Linux distribution to install a syslog server such as rsyslog if you want to use syslog logging on your Linux system. Some Linux distributions such as Ubuntu preinstall rsyslog.

The syslog protocol stores log messages in a standardized text format. You can use any text processing utility to query or view syslog content.

By default, syslog writes log entries to the following location:

  • On Debian-based distributions, including Ubuntu: /var/log/syslog
  • On RHEL-based distributions: /var/log/messages

The following example uses the cat command to query for PowerShell syslog entries on Ubuntu.

cat /var/log/syslog | grep -i powershell

Syslog message format

Syslog messages have the following format:

  • TIMESTAMP - A date/time when the log entry was produced.
  • MACHINENAME - The name of the system where the log was produced.
  • PID - The process ID of the process that wrote the log entry.
  • COMMITID - The git commit ID or tag used to produce the build.
  • TID - The thread ID of the thread that wrote the log entry.
  • CID - The hex channel identifier of the log entry.
    • 0x10 = Operational
    • 0x11 = Analytic
  • EVENTID - The event identifier of the log entry.
  • TASK - The task identifier for the event entry
  • OPCODE - The opcode for the event entry
  • LEVEL - The log level for the event entry
  • MESSAGE - The message associated with the event entry

EVENTID, TASK, OPCODE, and LEVEL are the same values as used when logging to the Windows event log.

Write PowerShell log message to a separate file

It's also possible to redirect the PowerShell log entries to a separate file. When the PowerShell log entries are redirected to a separate file, they're no longer logged to the default syslog file.

The following steps configure PowerShell log entries on Ubuntu to write to a log file named powershell.log.

  1. Create a config (conf) file for the PowerShell log configuration in the /etc/rsyslog.d directory using a text file editor such as nano. Prefix the filename with a number that's less than the default. For example, 40-powershell.conf where the default is 50-default.conf.

    sudo nano /etc/rsyslog.d/40-powershell.conf
  2. Add the following information to the 40-powershell.conf file:

    :syslogtag, contains, "powershell[" /var/log/powershell.log
    & stop
  3. Verify that /etc/rsyslog.conf has an include statement for the new file. It may have a generic statement that includes it, such as:

    $IncludeConfig /etc/rsyslog.d/*.conf

    If it doesn't, you'll need to add an include statement manually.

  4. Verify the attributes and permissions are set appropriately.

    ls -l /etc/rsyslog.d/40-powershell.conf
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root   67 Nov 28 12:51 40-powershell.conf

    If your 40-powershell.conf file has different ownership or permissions, complete the following steps:

    1. Set ownership to root.

      sudo chown root:root /etc/rsyslog.d/40-powershell.conf
    2. Set access permissions: root has read/write, users have read.

      sudo chmod 644 /etc/rsyslog.d/40-powershell.conf
  5. Restart the rsyslog service.

    sudo systemctl restart rsyslog.service
  6. Run pwsh to generate PowerShell information to log.



    The /var/log/powershell.log file isn't created until the rsyslog service is restarted and PowerShell generates information to log.

  7. Query the powershell.log file to verify PowerShell information is being logged to the new file.

    cat /var/log/powershell.log

Viewing PowerShell log data on macOS

PowerShell logs to Apple's unified logging system, a feature of macOS that allows for the collection and storage of system and application logs in a single centralized location.

Apple's unified logging system stores log messages in binary format. Use the Console app or log tool to query the unified logging system for PowerShell entries.

Viewing PowerShell log data in the Console application on macOS

The Console application on macOS is a utility that provides a graphical user interface for viewing log data. The Console application is included with macOS by default and can be accessed by opening the Utilities folder in the Applications folder.

Use the following steps to view PowerShell log data in the Console application on macOS:

  1. Search for the Console application and launch it.
  2. Select the Machine name under Devices.
  3. In the Search field, enter pwsh for the PowerShell main binary and press return.
  4. Change the search filter from Any to Process.
  5. Click Start.
  6. Run pwsh to generate PowerShell information to log.

The process ID for a running instance of PowerShell is stored in the $PID variable. Use the following steps to filter on a specific process instance of PowerShell in the Console application.

  1. Run an instance of pwsh.
  2. Run $PID in the instance of PowerShell started in the previous step to determine its process ID.
  3. Enter the process ID for pwsh in the Search field and press return.
  4. Change the search filter from Any to PID.
  5. Click Start.
  6. Generate PowerShell information to log from the instance of PowerShell started in the first step.

For more information, see view log messages in Console on Mac.

Viewing PowerShell log data from the command line on macOS

To view PowerShell log data from a command line on macOS, use the log command in the Terminal or other shell host application. These commands can be run from PowerShell, Z shell (Zsh), or Bash.

In the following example, the log command is used to show the log data on your system as it's occurring in realtime. The process parameter filters the log data for only the pwsh process. If you have more than one instance of pwsh running, the process parameter also accepts a process ID as its value. The level parameter shows messages at the specified level and below.

log stream --process pwsh --level info

Modes and levels of PowerShell log data on macOS

By default, the PowerShell subsystem logs info level messages to memory (mode) and default level messages to disk (persistence) on macOS. This behavior can be changed to enable a different mode and level of logging using the log config command.

The following example enables info level logging and persistence for the PowerShell subsystem:

sudo log config --subsystem com.microsoft.powershell --mode level:info,persist:info

Use the reset parameter to revert the log settings to the defaults for the PowerShell subsystem:

sudo log config --subsystem com.microsoft.powershell --reset

The log show command can be used to export log items. The log show command provides options for exporting the last N items, items since a given time, or items within a given time span.

For example, the following command exports items since 9am on April 5 of 2022:

log show --info --start "2022-04-05 09:00:00" --process pwsh

For more information, run log show --help to view the help for the log show command.

You may also want to consider saving the logs to a more secure location such as Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) aggregator. Using Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, you can set up SIEM in Azure. For more information, see Generic SIEM integration.

See also