Have you ever been in Windows File Explorer and just need to quickly open a PowerShell prompt in a folder? Do you want a open powershell window here option or open command window here option? If so, you’re in luck. In this tutorial, you’re going to learn how to open PowerShell in a specific folder when using Windows file explorer.
Table of Contents
If you intend to follow along, be sure you have the following:
- A Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, or Windows Server 2019 host. This tutorial will use Windows 10.
- Logged in with a local account in the Administrators group or at least with rights to elevate to administrator, if necessary.
Opening PowerShell via the Address Bar
File Explorer has an element at the top of the window that allows you to run programs just like if you were at a command line. You can invoke PowerShell from this address bar by pressing CTRL. From within File Explorer:
- Press and hold the ALT or CTRL key.
- Press the D or L key. This places the cursor in the address bar.
powershelland press Enter. PowerShell will be opened in the current directory.
If you are logged in as the Administrator, then you will be in an administrative prompt for both PowerShell and Command Prompt.
The animated gif below is what you should see on your screen:
Opening PowerShell via the File Menu
Another handy way to open PowerShell in File Explorer is to use the file menu. Using the file menu, you could use the mouse or keyboard shortcut. Pressing ALT allows you to open the file menu. Within File Explorer:
- Press and hold the ALT key.
- Press the F key. This will open the file menu.
- Press the S key. This option will select Open Windows PowerShell and will expand another sub-menu.
- Lastly, press the R key. PowerShell will open in the current directory.
If you need to open PowerShell as an administrator, use hit A instead of R.
The animated gif below shows what the process should look like:
ALTkey while navigating the context menu will display keys to use to jump through menus. The shortcut keys work in Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019.
Building a Custom PowerShell Context Menu
Now that you have all the shortcut keys in your toolbox, it’s time to dive a little deeper and build a context menu within File Explorer.
A context menu is the menu that you see when you right-click on an item in Windows.
Using a specially placed Windows registry key, you can create a custom context menu item to quickly open a PowerShell window when you right click inside of a folder. Let’s change that.
If you right click within a folder in File Explorer, you’ll see below that there is no context menu entry for opening PowerShell.
However, if hold SHIFT key and then right click in a folder, you’ll then see the context menu item below.
Let’s build a custom context menu item that’ll allow you to open a PowerShell window without holding Shift key.
To create a custom context menu item, you must create a few different Windows registry keys and values. These values, when created, will instantly create a custom context menu item.
Below are the following Windows registry keys and values necessary:
|HKCR:\Directory\shell\powershellmenu||(Default)||Open PowerShell Here|
|HKCR:\Directory\shell\powershellmenu\command||(Default)||C:\Windows\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -NoExit -Command Set-Location -LiteralPath ‘%L’|
|HKCR:\Directory\shell\runas||(Default)||Open PowerShell Here as Administrator|
|HKCR:\Directory\shell\runas||HasLUAShield||This adds a built-in icon for elevated prompts|
To add the custom context menu, you can create the above keys and values manually or you can use a PowerShell script to do the dirty work for you.
Below is a script you can use to quickly create all of the necessary keys and values in one shot.
$Menu = 'Open PowerShell Here' $Command = "C:\Windows\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -NoExit -Command Set-Location -LiteralPath '%L'" $RunAsMenu = 'Open PowerShell Here as Administrator' HKCR doesn't exist by defualt in PSDrives, so you need to create it. New-PSDrive -PSProvider Registry -Root HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT -Name HKCR Now create the keys and values (non-admin) New-Item -Path HKCR:\Directory\shell -Name 'powershellmenu' -Force | Set-ItemProperty -Name '(Default)' -Value $Menu New-Item -Path HKCR:\Directory\shell\powershellmenu\command -Force | Set-ItemProperty -Name '(Default)' -Value $Command Now create the keys and values (admin) New-Item -Path HKCR:\Directory\shell -Name 'runas' -Force | Set-ItemProperty -Name '(Default)' -Value $RunAsMenu # This adds a built-in icon for elevated prompts New-ItemProperty -Path HKCR:\Directory\shell\runas\ -Name HasLUAShield -Value '' New-Item -Path HKCR:\Directory\shell\runas\command -Force | Set-ItemProperty -Name '(Default)' -Value $Command
When you’ve finished creating the registry keys and values, you should see a value that looks like below:
Testing Out the PowerShell Custom Menu Item
Once complete, close the Windows registry editor if you have it open and right click on any folder within File Explorer. You should now see the new Open PowerShell Here context menu entry you created!
Below is the new context menu Open PowerShell Here option in action:
Now that you know all the ways to open a PowerShell window within File Explorer, what else can you add to your context menus to increase your file explorer productivity? Maybe you can add a Open Command Prompt Here or experiment with opening different PowerShell profiles using context menus. Try adding an icon to the context menu even!
More from Adam The Automator & Friends
Expose REST APIs, schedule jobs, and provide custom user interfaces with the platform built for PowerShell to integrate with anything.
We’ve put together a list of the resources we, at ATA, can wholeheartedly recommend!
Why not write on a platform with an existing audience and share your knowledge with the world?