Short description

Describes the Prompt function and demonstrates how to create a custom Prompt function.

Long description

The PowerShell command prompt indicates that PowerShell is ready to run a command:

PS C:\>

PowerShell has a built-in Prompt function. You can define your own customized Prompt function in your PowerShell profile script.

About the Prompt function

The Prompt function determines the appearance of the PowerShell prompt. PowerShell comes with a built-in Prompt function, but you can override it by defining your own Prompt function.

The Prompt function has the following syntax:

function Prompt { <function-body> }

The Prompt function must return an object. As a best practice, return a string or an object that's formatted as a string. The maximum recommended length is 80 characters.

For example, the following Prompt function returns a "Hello, World" string followed by a right angle bracket (>).

PS C:\> function prompt {"Hello, World > "}
Hello, World >

Getting the Prompt function

To get the Prompt function, use the Get-Command cmdlet or use the Get-Item cmdlet in the Function drive.

For example:

PS C:\> Get-Command Prompt

CommandType     Name      ModuleName
-----------     ----      ----------
Function        prompt

To get the script that sets the value of the prompt, use the dot method to get the ScriptBlock property of the Prompt function.

For example:

(Get-Command Prompt).ScriptBlock
"PS $($executionContext.SessionState.Path.CurrentLocation)$('>' * ($nestedPromptLevel + 1)) "
# .Link
# https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=225750
# .ExternalHelp System.Management.Automation.dll-help.xml

Like all functions, the Prompt function is stored in the Function: drive. To display the script that creates the current Prompt function, type:

(Get-Item function:prompt).ScriptBlock

The default prompt

The default prompt appears only when the Prompt function generates an error or doesn't return an object.

The default PowerShell prompt is:


For example, the following command sets the Prompt function to $null, which is invalid. As a result, the default prompt appears.

PS C:\> function prompt {$null}

Because PowerShell comes with a built-in prompt, you usually don't see the default prompt.

Built-in prompt

PowerShell includes a built-in Prompt function.

function prompt {
  "PS $($executionContext.SessionState.Path.CurrentLocation)$('>' * ($nestedPromptLevel + 1)) ";
  # .Link
  # https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=225750
  # .ExternalHelp System.Management.Automation.dll-help.xml

The function uses the Test-Path cmdlet to test whether the $PSDebugContext automatic variable has a value. If $PSDebugContext has a value, you are running in debugging mode, and [DBG]: is added to the prompt, as follows:

[DBG]: PS C:\ps-test>

If $PSDebugContext isn't populated, the function adds PS to the prompt. And, the function uses the Get-Location cmdlet to get the current file system directory location. Then, it adds a right angle bracket (>).

For example:

PS C:\ps-test>

If you are in a nested prompt, the function adds two angle brackets (>>) to the prompt. You are in a nested prompt if the value of the $NestedPromptLevel automatic variable is greater than 0.

For example, when you are debugging in a nested prompt, the prompt resembles the following prompt:

[DBG] PS C:\ps-test>>>

Changes to the prompt

The Enter-PSSession cmdlet prepends the name of the remote computer to the current Prompt function. When you use the Enter-PSSession cmdlet to start a session with a remote computer, the command prompt changes to include the name of the remote computer. For example:

PS Hello, World> Enter-PSSession Server01
[Server01]: PS Hello, World>

Other PowerShell host applications and alternate shells might have their own custom command prompts.

For more information about the $PSDebugContext and $NestedPromptLevel automatic variables, see about_Automatic_Variables.

How to customize the prompt

To customize the prompt, write a new Prompt function. The function isn't protected, so you can overwrite it.

To write a Prompt function, type the following:

function prompt { }

Then, between the braces, enter the commands or the string that creates your prompt.

For example, the following prompt includes your computer name:

function prompt {"PS [$env:COMPUTERNAME]> "}

On the Server01 computer, the prompt resembles the following prompt:

PS [Server01] >

The following Prompt function includes the current date and time:

function prompt {"$(Get-Date)> "}

The prompt resembles the following prompt:

03/15/2012 17:49:47>

You can also change the default Prompt function:

For example, the following modified Prompt function adds [ADMIN]: to the built-in PowerShell prompt when running in an elevated session.

function prompt {
  $identity = [Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity]::GetCurrent()
  $principal = [Security.Principal.WindowsPrincipal] $identity
  $adminRole = [Security.Principal.WindowsBuiltInRole]::Administrator

  $(if (Test-Path variable:/PSDebugContext) { '[DBG]: ' }
    elseif($principal.IsInRole($adminRole)) { "[ADMIN]: " }
    else { '' }
  ) + 'PS ' + $(Get-Location) +
    $(if ($NestedPromptLevel -ge 1) { '>>' }) + '> '

When you start PowerShell using the Run as administrator option, a prompt that resembles the following prompt appears:

[ADMIN]: PS C:\ps-test>

The following Prompt function displays the history ID of the next command. To view the command history, use the Get-History cmdlet.

function prompt {
   # The at sign creates an array in case only one history item exists.
   $history = @(Get-History)
   if($history.Count -gt 0)
      $lastItem = $history[$history.Count - 1]
      $lastId = $lastItem.Id

   $nextCommand = $lastId + 1
   $currentDirectory = Get-Location
   "PS: $nextCommand $currentDirectory >"

The following prompt uses the Write-Host and Get-Random cmdlets to create a prompt that changes color randomly. Because Write-Host writes to the current host application but doesn't return an object, this function includes a Return statement. Without it, PowerShell uses the default prompt, PS>.

function prompt {
    $color = Get-Random -Min 1 -Max 16
    Write-Host ("PS " + $(Get-Location) +">") -NoNewLine `
     -ForegroundColor $Color
    return " "

Saving the Prompt function

Like any function, the Prompt function exists only in the current session. To save the Prompt function for future sessions, add it to your PowerShell profiles. For more information about profiles, see about_Profiles.

See also