Tag Archives: TabComplete

PowerShell PowerUser Tips: The Hash TabExpansion

One of my favorite features in the built-in TabExpansion in PowerShell is one that many (if not most) users are unaware of: the “#” hash mark.

In order to test this tip, you’re going to need a command console that you’ve used and typed several commands into, so that Get-History will return more than a few different commands. Now, actually run the Get-History command so you can see the list of your last few commands.

The basic tip is pretty simple: if you type “#” and then hit the Tab key, PowerShell completes the full previous command-line.

You can also hit tab again to complete the next oldest command-line, and so on, right back to the beginning (it actually wraps around). You can even hit Shift-Tab to reverse direction if you go past the command-line you wanted. Additionally, this works on your history, so it even completes multi-line items. The one weird thing is that if you tab-complete past an item with multiple lines, the TabExpansion function doesn’t realize the cursor’s not on the prompt line anymore, so it doesn’t quite redraw right, but it’s mostly ok: the commands still work.

Of course, if that’s all there was to this, I’d just have tweeted and gone back to preparing for my presentation at the Windows Server 2012 Launch Event in Rochester

The really cool thing is that you can filter the feature. That is: if you type # and then the first few characters of some command-line in your history, when you hit tab you will get the most recent command-line that starts with those characters, and as before, you can hit tab repeatedly to cycle through all the commands in your history that match.

There’s one more part to the hash-tab feature: numbers. If you know the history id of the command you want to type, you can type, for instance, #20{Tab} to complete the 20th command from your PowerShell session. It’s basically the same as using “r” shortcut for invoke-history, except you hit tab after the number instead of space before, and you get to see the command (and edit it) before you press Enter.

So to sum up:

  • hash-tab – completes command-lines from your history
  • hash-txt-tab – filters your history like get-history | where { $_.Commandline -Like txt* }
  • hash-id-tab – completes the command from history with the matching id