Short description

Describes how to interpret and format the output of remote commands.

Long description

The output of a command that was run on a remote computer might look like output of the same command run on a local computer, but there are some significant differences.

This topic explains how to interpret, format, and display the output of commands that are run on remote computers.


When you use the Invoke-Command cmdlet to run a command on a remote computer, the command returns an object that includes the name of the computer that generated the data. The remote computer name is stored in the PSComputerName property.

For many commands, the PSComputerName is displayed by default. For example, the following command runs a Get-Culture command on two remote computers, Server01 and Server02. The output, which appears below, includes the names of the remote computers on which the command ran.

C:\PS> invoke-command -script {get-culture} -comp Server01, Server02

LCID  Name    DisplayName                PSComputerName
----  ----    -----------                --------------
1033  en-US   English (United States)    Server01
1033  es-AR   Spanish (Argentina)        Server02

You can use the HideComputerName parameter of Invoke-Command to hide the PSComputerName property. This parameter is designed for commands that collect data from only one remote computer.

The following command runs a Get-Culture command on the Server01 remote computer. It uses the HideComputerName parameter to hide the PSComputerName property and related properties.

C:\PS> invoke-command -scr {get-culture} -comp Server01 -HideComputerName

LCID             Name             DisplayName
----             ----             -----------
1033             en-US            English (United States)

You can also display the PSComputerName property if it is not displayed by default.

For example, the following commands use the Format-Table cmdlet to add the PSComputerName property to the output of a remote Get-Date command.

$dates = invoke-command -script {get-date} -computername Server01, Server02
$dates | format-table DateTime, PSComputerName -auto

DateTime                            PSComputerName
--------                            --------------
Monday, July 21, 2008 7:16:58 PM    Server01
Monday, July 21, 2008 7:16:58 PM    Server02


Several cmdlets, including Get-Process, Get-Service, and Get-EventLog, have a ComputerName parameter that gets the objects on a remote computer. These cmdlets do not use PowerShell remoting, so you can use them even on computers that are not configured for remoting in Windows PowerShell.

The objects that these cmdlets return store the name of the remote computer in the MachineName property. (These objects do not have a PSComputerName property.)

For example, this command gets the PowerShell process on the Server01 and Server02 remote computers. The default display does not include the MachineName property.

C:\PS> get-process PowerShell -computername server01, server02

Handles  NPM(K)    PM(K)      WS(K) VM(M)   CPU(s)     Id ProcessName
-------  ------    -----      ----- -----   ------     -- -----------
920      38    97524     114504   575     9.66   2648 PowerShell
194       6    24256      32384   142            3020 PowerShell
352      27    63472      63520   577     3.84   4796 PowerShell

You can use the Format-Table cmdlet to display the MachineName property of the process objects.

For example, the following command saves the processes in the $p variable and then uses a pipeline operator (|) to send the processes in $p to the Format-Table command. The command uses the Property parameter of Format-Table to include the MachineName property in the display.

C:\PS> $p = get-process PowerShell -comp Server01, Server02
C:\PS> $P | format-table -property ID, ProcessName, MachineName -auto

Id ProcessName MachineName
-- ----------- -----------
2648 PowerShell  Server02
3020 PowerShell  Server01
4796 PowerShell  Server02

The following more complex command adds the MachineName property to the default process display. It uses hash tables to specify calculated properties. Fortunately, you do not have to understand it to use it.

(Note that the backtick [`] is the continuation character.)

C:\PS> $p = get-process PowerShell -comp Server01, Server02

C:\PS> $p | format-table -property Handles, `
@{Label="NPM(K)";Expression={int}}, `
@{Label="PM(K)";Expression={int}}, `
@{Label="WS(K)";Expression={int}}, `
@{Label="VM(M)";Expression={int}}, `
@{Label="CPU(s)";Expression={if ($.CPU -ne $()){ $.CPU.ToString("N")}}}, `
Id, ProcessName, MachineName -auto

Handles NPM(K) PM(K)  WS(K) VM(M) CPU(s)   Id ProcessName MachineName
------- ------ -----  ----- ----- ------   -- ----------- -----------
920     38 97560 114532   576        2648 PowerShell  Server02
192      6 24132  32028   140        3020 PowerShell  Server01
438     26 48436  59132   565        4796 PowerShell  Server02


When you run remote commands that generate output, the command output is transmitted across the network back to the local computer.

Because most live Microsoft .NET Framework objects (such as the objects that PowerShell cmdlets return) cannot be transmitted over the network, the live objects are "serialized". In other words, the live objects are converted into XML representations of the object and its properties. Then, the XML-based serialized object is transmitted across the network.

On the local computer, PowerShell receives the XML-based serialized object and "deserializes" it by converting the XML-based object into a standard .NET Framework object.

However, the deserialized object is not a live object. It is a snapshot of the object at the time that it was serialized, and it includes properties but no methods. You can use and manage these objects in PowerShell, including passing them in pipelines, displaying selected properties, and formatting them.

Most deserialized objects are automatically formatted for display by entries in the Types.ps1xml or Format.ps1xml files. However, the local computer might not have formatting files for all of the deserialized objects that were generated on a remote computer. When objects are not formatted, all of the properties of each object appear in the console in a streaming list.

When objects are not formatted automatically, you can use the formatting cmdlets, such as Format-Table or Format-List, to format and display selected properties. On a Windows computer, you can use the Out-GridView cmdlet to display the objects in a table.

Also, if you run a command on a remote computer that uses cmdlets that you do not have on your local computer, the objects that the command returns might not be formatted properly because you do not have the formatting files for those objects on your computer. To get formatting data from another computer, use the Get-FormatData and Export-FormatData cmdlets.

Some object types, such as DirectoryInfo objects and GUIDs, are converted back into live objects when they are received. These objects do not need any special handling or formatting.


The order of the computer names in the ComputerName parameter of cmdlets determines the order in which PowerShell connects to the remote computers. However, the results appear in the order in which the local computer receives them, which might be a different order.

To change the order of the results, use the Sort-Object cmdlet. You can sort on the PSComputerName or MachineName property. You can also sort on another property of the object so that the results from different computers are interspersed.

See also