10. Hashtables



The ~opt~ notation in the syntax definitions indicates that the lexical entity is optional in the syntax.

    @{ new-lines~opt~ hash-literal-body~opt~ new-lines~opt~ }

    hash-literal-body statement-terminators hash-entry

    key-expression = new-lines~opt~ statement



10.1 Introduction

The type Hashtable represents a collection of key/value pair objects that supports efficient retrieval of a value when indexed by the key. Each key/value pair is an element, which is stored in some implementation-defined object type.

An element's key cannot be the null value. There are no restrictions on the type of a key or value. Duplicate keys are not supported.

Given a key/value pair object, the key and associated value can be obtained by using the instance properties Key and Value, respectively.

Given one or more keys, the corresponding value(s) can be accessed via the Hashtable subscript operator [] (§

All Hashtables have type Hashtable (§4.3.3).

The order of the keys in the collection returned by Keys is unspecified; however, it is the same order as the associated values in the collection returned by Values.

Here are some examples involving Hashtables:

$h1 = @{ FirstName = "James"; LastName = "Anderson"; IDNum = 123 }
$h1.FirstName # designates the key FirstName
$h1["LastName"] # designates the associated value for key LastName
$h1.Keys # gets the collection of keys

Hashtable elements are stored in an object of type DictionaryEntry, and the collections returned by Keys and Values have type ICollection.

10.2 Hashtable creation

A Hashtable is created via a hash literal (§7.1.9) or the New-Object cmdlet. It can be created with zero or more elements. The Count property returns the current element count.

10.3 Adding and removing Hashtable elements

An element can be added to a Hashtable by assigning (§7.11.1) a value to a non-existent key name or to a subscript (§ that uses a non-existent key name. Removal of an element requires the use of the Remove method. For example,

$h1 = @{ FirstName = "James"; LastName = "Anderson"; IDNum = 123 }
$h1.Dept = "Finance" # adds element Finance
$h1["Salaried"] = $false # adds element Salaried
$h1.Remove("Salaried") # removes element Salaried

10.4 Hashtable concatenation

Hashtables can be concatenated via the + and += operators, both of which result in the creation of a new Hashtable. The existing Hashtables are unchanged. See §7.7.4 for more information.

10.5 Hashtables as reference types

As Hashtable is a reference type, assignment of a Hashtable involves a shallow copy; that is, the variable assigned to refers to the same Hashtable; no copy of the Hashtable is made. For example,

$h1 = @{ FirstName = "James"; LastName = "Anderson"; IDNum = 123 }
$h2 = $h1
$h1.FirstName = "John" # change key's value in $h1
$h2.FirstName # change is reflected in $h2

10.6 Enumerating over a Hashtable

To process every pair in a Hashtable, use the Keys property to retrieve the list of keys as an array, and then enumerate over the elements of that array getting the associated value via the Value property or a subscript, as follows

$h1 = @{ FirstName = "James"; LastName = "Anderson"; IDNum = 123}
foreach ($e in $h1.Keys) {
   "Key is " + $e + ", Value is " + $h1[$e]