What Is PowerShell?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

PowerShell is a tool that allows IT professionals to interact with a command-line interface and automate tasks. It can also function as a scripting language. Read on to learn more about the range of functionality that PowerShell offers.

[Featured image] An IT support specialist is using a powershell to interact with a command-line interface.

PowerShell is a Microsoft tool that provides programming features for automation, configuration management, and scripting. PowerShell is also an open-source command-line interface compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can use PowerShell in a number of different ways to help programmers save time on repetitive or time-consuming tasks. 

Let’s take a closer look at the four main areas of functionality that PowerShell offers: open-source command-line interface, task automation, configuration management, and scripting. 

Read more: Information Technology (IT) Terms: A to Z Glossary

Command-line interface

A command-line interface allows computer users to interact with the computer directly through text, as opposed to the graphical user interface (GUI) most people use to navigate their computer programs. PowerShell offers a command-line interface that you can use on macOS, Windows, or Linux, increasing compatibility. One advantage of using PowerShell for a command-line interface is that PowerShell can return .NET objects instead of only text, which is what most command-line interfaces are capable of. 

Scripting and automating tasks

In addition to functioning as a scripting engine, PowerShell is also a fully functional scripting language used to automate tasks for DevOps,  user management, continuous integration/continuous development, and many other system administrator tasks. The substantial library of tools available in PowerShell makes it easier to start with existing scripts. However, because it’s also a scripting language, you can use it to write your own functions as well. 

Configuration management

PowerShell offers a management framework called Desired State Configuration (DSC), which makes it easier for system administrators and other IT professionals to keep the servers working properly. DSC lets users define how a workstation should operate and allow the framework to make it happen without specifying every detail. 

  • Command-line interface 

  • GUI

  • Configuration management

Learn more about PowerShell

Take the next step and learn more about PowerShell, command-line interface, and other topics you need to know about to start a career as an IT specialist. You can earn your Google IT Support Professional Certificate in as little as six months. This beginner-friendly series of five courses can help you prepare for a career with skills in debugging, customer service, network protocols, cloud computing, and more. 

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