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How to create and run a PowerShell script file on Windows 10

Windows 10 create PowerShell script
Windows 10 create PowerShell script (Image credit: Future)

On Windows 10, PowerShell allows you to run commands and scripts to change settings and automate tasks and other actions. In a way, it's similar to Command Prompt. However, PowerShell is a more capable command-line interface (CLI) that provides a more extensive set of tools and more flexibility and control. Also, unlike Command Prompt, PowerShell is available across platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.

A script is a collection of instructions saved into a text file (using the special ".ps1" extension) that PowerShell understands and executes in sequence to perform different actions.

The only caveat is that the default security protocol always blocks scripts from running on your computer. This means that when double-clicking a ".ps1" file on Windows 10, nothing will happen, and if you try to run the script within PowerShell, you'll see the "cannot be loaded because running scripts is disabled on this system" error message. However, running scripts on a laptop or desktop computer is not impossible. You only need to enable the correct execution policy.

This guide will walk you through the steps to write and run your first script file on PowerShell using Visual Studio Code, Notepad, and the PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) console.

How to create PowerShell script file on Windows 10

You can create PowerShell script files using virtually any text editor or the legacy ISE console. However, the preferred option (thanks, @JotaKa, for the tip) to write scripts is using the Visual Studio Code editor with the PowerShell extension.

Create a script with VS Code

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a free and extensible cross-platform code editor that allows you to edit virtually any programming language. And when adding the PowerShell extension, you get an interactive scripting editing experience that even includes IntelliSense (code-completion) support.

The PowerShell ISE application will continue to be available, but the Visual Studio Code with the PowerShell extension is meant to be the new default experience. Also, consider that the legacy experience won't get any new features and doesn't support PowerShell 7 or higher releases.

Install  VS Code

To install Visual Basic Code on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Visual Studio Download page.
  2. Click the Windows button to download the installer.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Double-click the installer to begin the installation process.
  2. Confirm the agreement terms.
  3. Click the Next button.
  4. Confirm additional tasks as necessary.
  5. Click the Next button again.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Install button.
  2. Click the Finish button.

Once you complete the steps, you can continue installing the PowerShell extension.

Install PowerShell extension

To install the PowerShell extension on VS Code, use these steps:

  1. Open VS Code.
  2. Click the Extensions tab (Ctrl + Shift + X) from the left pane.
  3. Search for PowerShell and select the top result.
  4. Click the Install button.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Trust Workspace & Install button.

After you complete the steps, you can start writing PowerShell scripts using Visual Studio Code on Windows 10.

Create PowerShell script with Visual Studio Code

To create a script with Visual Basic Code, use these steps:

  1. Open VS Code.
  2. Click the File menu and select the New File option.
  3. Click the File menu and select the Save As option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. In the "File name" field, specify a name for the file with the .ps1 extension — for example, first_script.ps1.
  2. Click the Save button.
  3. Write a new or paste the script you want to run — for example, Write-Host "Congratulations! Your first script executed successfully"
  • Quick note: The above script will output the phrase "Congratulations! Your first script executed successfully" on the screen.
  1. (Optional) Click the Run button from the top-right side (or press the F5 key) to run the script.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the File menu.
  2. Click the Save option.

Create PowerShell script with Notepad

To create a PowerShell script using the Notepad editor on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Notepad, and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Write a new or paste your script in the text file — for example, Write-Host "Congratulations! Your first script executed successfully"

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the File menu.
  2. Select the Save As option.
  3. Confirm a descriptive name for the script — for example, first_script.ps1.

Notepad save script file

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Save button.

Create PowerShell script with Integrated Scripting Environment

Alternatively, you can use the built-in PowerShell ISE console to code your scripts on Windows 10.

The Integrated Scripting Environment is an advanced tool, but you can get started using these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows PowerShell ISE, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
  3. Click the File menu.
  4. Select the New option to create a new empty .ps1 file.
  5. Write a new, or paste the script you want to run — for example, Write-Host "Congratulations! Your first script executed successfully"

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the File menu.
  2. Click the Save option.
  3. Type a name for the script — for example, first_script.ps1.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Select the folder location to store the script file.
  2. Click the Save button.
  3. (Optional) Click the Run button from the top-right side (or press the F5 key) to run the script.

Once you complete the steps using Notepad, Visual Studio Code, or PowerShell ISE, the script will be ready to run, but it will fail using the default system settings. The reason is that the default PowerShell settings are configured to block the execution of any script. (The only exception is if you run the script's contents within Visual Studio Code or PowerShell ISE.)

How to run PowerShell script file on Windows 10

On Windows 10, to run a script file with the PowerShell console, you have to change the execution policy.

To change the execution policy to run PowerShell scripts on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for PowerShell, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
  3. Type the following command to allow scripts to run and press Enter: Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
  4. Type A and press Enter (if applicable).
  5. Type the following command to run the script and press Enter: & "C:\PATH\TO\SCRIPT\first_script.ps1"

In the above command, change "PATH\TO\SCRIPT" to the location of your script. For example, this command runs a script stored in the Downloads folder: & "C:\Users\username\Downloads\first_script.ps1"

(Image credit: Future)

After you complete the steps, the script will run, and if it was written correctly, you should see its output on the screen without issues.

On Windows 10, PowerShell includes four execution policies:

  • Restricted — Stops any script from running.
  • RemoteSigned — Allows scripts created on the device, but scripts created on another computer won't run unless they include a trusted publisher's signature.
  • AllSigned — All the scripts will run, but only if a trusted publisher has signed them.
  • Unrestricted — Runs any script without any restrictions.

You should only allow local scripts when you need to run a script from a trusted source. If you don't plan to run scripts regularly, it's a good idea to restore the default settings to block untrusted scripts using the same instructions outlined above, but in step No. 4, use the Set-ExecutionPolicy Restricted command.

More resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.