Working with file attributes in PowerShell

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Written By Jan Reilink

Windows Server system administrator & enthusiast.

Working with PowerShell’s Get-ItemProperty to get file attributes may boost your work productivity. It’s often easier to getting things done if you have a more generic way of doing something. Here is how to use Get-Item and Get-ItemProperty in PowerShell to perform and streamline day to day tasks like installing or updating software based on file versions. I also address changing timestamps on files in short.

PowerShell’s Get-ItemProperty

From Get-ItemProperty on 

The Get-ItemProperty cmdlet gets the properties of the specified items. For example, you can use this cmdlet to get the value of the LastAccessTime property of a file object. You can also use this cmdlet to view registry entries and their values.

Get-Item on

The Get-Item cmdlet gets the item at the specified location. It doesn’t get the contents of the item at the location unless you use a wildcard character (*) to request all the contents of the item.

I want to use this cmdlet to retrieve information about the software version, because I mostly use this to install software during deployments or updates. In my example I’ll use the .NET Core 2.1 Runtime & Hosting Bundle for Windows (v2.1.3) dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe.

Get file properties using PowerShell

How to use the Windows PowerShell cmdlet Get-ItemProperty to work with file attributes. As said, I use this to install or update software during deployment or maintenance. Let’s get some information about the file. The examples speak for itself.

PS D:\Users\janreilink> Get-ItemProperty Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe Directory: Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore Mode LastWriteTime Length Name ---- ------------- ------ ---- -a---- 8/22/2018 9:30 AM 96297912 dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe
Code language: PowerShell (powershell)
PS D:\Users\janreilink> Get-ItemProperty Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe | Format-list -Property * -Force PSPath : Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\FileSystem::Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe PSParentPath : Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\FileSystem::Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore PSChildName : dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe PSDrive : V PSProvider : Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\FileSystem Mode : -a---- VersionInfo : File: Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe InternalName: setup OriginalFilename: dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe FileVersion: 2.1.13126.0 FileDescription: Microsoft .NET Core 2.1.3 - Windows Server Hosting Product: Microsoft .NET Core 2.1.3 - Windows Server Hosting ProductVersion: 2.1.13126.0 Debug: False Patched: False PreRelease: False PrivateBuild: False SpecialBuild: False Language: English (United States) BaseName : dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win Target : LinkType : Name : dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe Length : 96297912 DirectoryName : Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore Directory : Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore IsReadOnly : False Exists : True FullName : Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe Extension : .exe CreationTime : 8/22/2018 9:30:02 AM CreationTimeUtc : 8/22/2018 7:30:02 AM LastAccessTime : 8/22/2018 9:30:37 AM LastAccessTimeUtc : 8/22/2018 7:30:37 AM LastWriteTime : 8/22/2018 9:30:26 AM LastWriteTimeUtc : 8/22/2018 7:30:26 AM Attributes : Archive
Code language: PowerShell (powershell)

Here you see a lot of important information about the file, such as its PSPath:

PS D:\Users\janreilink> (Get-ItemProperty Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe).PSPath Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\FileSystem::Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe
Code language: Pony (pony)

Version description and information that we can query:

PS D:\Users\janreilink> (Get-ItemProperty Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe).VersionInfo.FileDescription Microsoft .NET Core 2.1.3 - Windows Server Hosting PS D:\Users\janreilink> (Get-ItemProperty Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe).VersionInfo.ProductVersion 2.1.13126.0
Code language: PowerShell (powershell)
PS D:\Users\janreilink> cd Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\ PS Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore> If ((Get-ItemProperty .\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe).VersionInfo.ProductVersion -gt (Get-ItemProperty .\dotnet-hosting-2.1.0-win.exe).VersionInfo.ProductVersion) { Write-Host "This version is newer, let's install it" }
Code language: PowerShell (powershell)

You can read more about PowerShell comparison operators like -gt in my PowerShell introduction.

you can also use CIM_DataFile class with Get-CimInstance. For example to find Internet Explorer’s version: Get-CimInstance -ClassName CIM_DataFile -Filter "Name = 'C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe'" | select -ExpandProperty Version

Example: Installing software with PowerShell

Knowing these file properties, like the version numbers that I can use in scripting to compare, I can start installing Microsoft .NET Core 2.1.3. A nice PowerShell way is to use Start-Process:

$dotnetcore = Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\dotnet-hosting-2.1.3-win.exe Start-Process -NoNewWindow (Get-ItemProperty $dotnetcore).PSPath -argument "/install /quiet" -Wait
Code language: PowerShell (powershell)

Install .Net Core on Windows Server 2016 and up only:

if ( [System.Environment]::OSVersion.Version -gt (New-Object System.Version "10.0" ) ) { $dotnetcore = (Get-ItemProperty Z:\deploy\packages\dotnetcore\latest\*.exe) Write-Host "Install $($dotnetcore.BaseName)" Start-Process -NoNewWindow $($dotnetcore.FullName) -argument "/install /quiet" -Wait }
Code language: PowerShell (powershell)

Editing file properties like Last Modified Date

Using Get-Item, you can change file properties as well. Suppose you want to change the file or folder’s last modified date? Here is how to change timestamps on files:

PS C:\Users\janreilink\source\dev> Get-Item .\testfile.txt |%{$_.LastWriteTime } Monday, October 19, 2020 8:40:13 AM PS C:\Users\janreilink\source\dev> Get-Item .\testfile.txt |%{$_.LastWriteTime = '2020-10-10 08:50:00' } PS C:\Users\janreilink\source\dev> Get-Item .\testfile.txt |%{$_.LastWriteTime } Saturday, October 10, 2020 8:50:00 AM
Code language: PowerShell (powershell)

What we did was:

Get testfile.txt’s LastWriteTime property, and re-set it to a date in the past by only assigning a date/timestamp for that LastWriteTime property.


Please note: some information is copied from the Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog post Use a PowerShell Cmdlet to Work with File Attributes. I put it up here for reference.

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