How to Edit Files with a Real PowerShell Text Editor

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PowerShell is a command line program that allows users to access Windows scripts and commands. If you are interested in editing text files with this program, there are several options available for how to go about it. Here’s what you need to know before downloading the .ps1 file from GitHub so you can get started!

The “powershell edit file command line” is a command-line tool that allows users to open, save, and close files. By using this tool, users can also edit the text in files.

How to Edit Files with a Real PowerShell Text Editor

Have you ever used a script to read a text file and discovered that the file included multiple errors? In such cases, a PowerShell text editor may be useful. You wouldn’t need to use a third-party editor. Instead, you may make changes to the file without having to exit PowerShell. Isn’t it amazing?

Continue reading to discover how to install and utilize three text editors (Nano, Vim, and Emacs) in PowerShell to edit text files. This video will also go through the advantages of each to assist you in deciding which is best for you.

Let’s get this party started!

Prerequisites

This will be a hands-on presentation in this course. If you want to follow along, make sure you have the following items on hand:

  • A PC with Windows 7 or higher installed. This article will utilize Windows 10 version 21H1 for its examples.
  • PowerShell Core v6+ or Windows PowerShell v3+ Version 5.1 of Windows PowerShell will be used in this lesson.
  • Chocolatey’s most recent version (v0.11.2 as of the writing of this tutorial).

Related: The 10 Most Important PowerShell Commands

Using Nano as a Text Editor in PowerShell

Nano is a great choice if you’re new to terminal-based text editors or just need to make a fast change to a file. In comparison to the other more complex editors in this lesson, Nano is lightweight, straightforward, and better suited for light text editing jobs.

Putting Nano in Place

Follow the instructions below to install Nano.

1. Log in as an administrator to PowerShell.

2. To install the Nano text editor, use the choco install command in PowerShell. The (-y) option will skip the confirmation screen and install the package instead.

The installation procedure would resemble the image below. The Nano installation was successful in this case, as you can see.

Putting Nano in Place Putting Nano in Place

3. After Putting Nano in Place, run the following command to verify the installation was successful and display the current version.

The command was successful, as you can see below, and the Nano version was shown on your computer.

Checking for the Nano version Checking for the Nano version

Creating, Editing, and Saving a File

Now that you’ve installed Nano, it’s time to put it to the test!

1. To make a new file or open an existing one, type nano and then the filename you want to create or open. You’ll be generating and altering a Windows PowerShell script with the.ps1 file extension for the examples in this course. The command below will generate a new file in the current directory named myPowerShellScript.ps1.

myPowerShellScript.ps1 (nano)

Within PowerShell, the Nano text editor will open. The word [New File] appears towards the bottom of the picture below, suggesting that the Nano has opened a new empty file.

The Nano editor's window The Nano editor’s window

To show the help documentation, use CTRL+G on your keyboard to see all of the possible shortcut instructions. Commands that begin with the letter C need the use of the CTRL key. If the command begins with M, on the other hand, you must use the ALT key.

2. Then, using the arrow keys on your computer to move the cursor, begin creating your script. For example, enter Write-Host “Hello World!” in Windows PowerShell, as illustrated in the screenshot below. This command will output the words “Hello World!” to the console when it is run.

When you make changes to the file’s content, the term Modified shows in the editor’s top-right corner. After you’ve finished editing, use CTRL+O to inform Nano to save the file.

Using the Write-Out command as a shortcut Using the Write-Out command as a shortcut

3. To save the modifications, Nano asks you to name the file. To confirm, press Enter.

Putting the file away Putting the file away

4. Finally, hit CTRL+X to quit Nano.

If you attempt to close the editor while there are changes that need to be saved, Nano will prompt you to save or disregard the changes. If you want to save, hit Y and type the filename you want to write in the same way you did in step 3. If you don’t want to keep the modifications, hit N.

Leaving Nano Leaving Nano

5. Execute the following command to execute your script. The command below assumes that your file is in the C: folder.

& C:myPowerShellScript.ps1

As demonstrated in the accompanying screenshot, the script will print the message ‘Hello World!’ to the terminal.

The script's output The script’s output

Text Replacement and Search

Now that you know how to edit and save a file, it’s time to move on to something a little more challenging: string searching and replacement!

Follow these procedures to look for a string.

1. If you haven’t already done so, open the text file in the Nano editor.

2. To use the Where Is command, click CTRL+W on your keyboard once you’ve opened the text file.

3. Then, next to the Search prompt, write the text you want to look for and hit Enter. The following example will look for the word Hello.

I'm looking for a string. I’m looking for a string.

Your cursor will move next to the string if it exists in the file, as seen below.

Identifying the string Identifying the string

Follow these steps to find and replace a string.

1. To access the search and replace menu, use CTRL+ on your keyboard. Type the string you want to change next to the Search (to replace) prompt and hit Enter.

Searching for the word 'Hello' Trying to find the word ‘Hello’

2. Type the new term in the Replace with prompt and hit Enter. Goodbye will be the substitute word in the case below.

Changing the word Changing the word

3. Finally, pick whether to replace just the present occurrence of the matching term in the file or all instances of the matching word in the file. The options are as follows:

  • Press Y to replace the single instance.
  • Press A to replace all occurrences.
  • Press N to skip this section.
  • Press CTRL+C to cancel the replace procedure.

To replace the current instance, hit Y in this case.

Verifying the search and replace procedure Verifying the search and replace procedure

If the replace process is successful, Nano will display the number of instances replaced, as illustrated in the figure below.

Replace the count of occurrences. Replace the count of occurrences.

4. To quit Nano, hit CTRL+X on your keyboard, and then press Y to save the buffer. Run your script again. In your terminal, the new message ‘Goodbye World!’ will be printed.

The script's result The script’s result

Using Vim as a Text Editor in PowerShell

Session recovery, syntax coloring, window splitting, and auto-completion are just a few of the benefits that Vim has over Nano. Nano is designed for rapid file editing, whereas Vim is a lightweight IDE alternative.

However, the additional functionality that Vim provides come at the expense of a longer learning curve. But don’t become disheartened. Vim is a fantastic editor to pick up.

Getting Vim to Work

Now it’s time to get started by Getting Vim to Work.

1. Log in as an administrator to PowerShell.

2. To install the Vim editor, run the following command in the PowerShell console.

3. Run the following command to see what version of Vim you’re using. —v vim

 Verifying the version of Vim Verifying the version of Vim

Creating, Editing, and Saving a File

It’s time to get your hands dirty and learn how to edit a file now that you’ve installed Vim. Before you proceed any further, you should be aware that Vim has many modes. Each mode has a particular behavior and impacts the operations you may do in the editor.

The three most prevalent modes are:

  • Normal — This is the default option when you first launch Vim. You can explore the text file in this mode, but you can’t add new text.
  • Insert – Vim enables you to edit the file in this mode. To activate this mode, hit the I (case insensitive) key on your keyboard. Press ESC to leave and return to regular mode.
  • Vim’s command mode allows you to run commands like save the file, exit Vim, and examine the help manual, among others.

Follow the steps below to begin editing a file with Vim.

1. To open a file in Vim, type vim then the filename you want to open. The myPowerShellScript.ps1 file is opened using the command below.

myPowerShellScript.ps1 (vim)

The vim text editor will open, as seen in the figure below. Because Vim allows syntax coloring, the PowerShell command ‘Write-Host’ and the message ‘Hello World!’ appear in distinct colors.

In normal mode, Vim's opening view. In normal mode, Vim’s opening view.

Type:h and press Enter to bring up the Vim help document. While in normal mode, pressing the: character changes Vim to command mode, while h opens the help file. To return to normal mode, type:q and hit Enter to leave the help page.

Then, by hitting I go into insert mode. As soon as you go to insert mode, the word INSERT shows at the bottom of the editor, as seen in the figure below.

Insert mode in Vim Insert mode in Vim

3. Now that you’re in insert mode, make whatever changes you like to the file. You may move the pointer around the editor using the arrow keys.

4. To return to regular mode after editing, hit Esc.

5. To save and close the file, use the command:wq and click Enter. The w command saves the files, while the q command leaves Vim.

Putting the file away and existing Vim Putting the file away and existing Vim

Text Replacement and Search

To search for strings in Vim, follow the instructions below.

1. In Vim, open the file you wish to edit.

2. On the Vim editor, to search for a string, run the command below, where <string> is the string you want to search.

To find the word Hello, for example, type:

The matched terms will be highlighted in Vim, as illustrated in the figure below.

Press n to go to the next occurrence, or N to go back to the previous occurrence, to loop over many occurrences of the matching strings.

The matched words are highlighted in Vim. The matched words are highlighted in Vim.

3. Lastly, to replace every instance of a string in the entire file, run the command below, where <old> is the text to replace and <new> is the replacement text.

The command below, for example, will replace the word Hello with the word Goodbye.

Using Vim to do a search and replace Using Vim to do a search and replace

As a consequence, as you can see below, Vim substitutes the text.

The search and replace results in Vim. The search and replace results in Vim.

4. To save and close the file, use the command:wq and click Enter. Run the script again. Your new message will be shown in the output.

The script's result The script’s result

Using Emacs as a Text Editor for PowerShell

Emacs, like Vim, has more features than Nano. Furthermore, Emacs is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) (IDE). Syntax coloring, simultaneous editing of several files, and auto-indentation are only a few of Emacs’ features.

Another advantage of Emacs over the other editors in this lesson is that it does not have any modes. Emacs may also be completely customized. If Emacs doesn’t have support for anything, you can write your own using Emacs Lisp.

Getting Emacs to Work

To install Emacs, follow the instructions below.

1. If you haven’t already, open PowerShell as an administrator.

2. To install Emacs with Chocolatey, type the following command in the PowerShell console. install emacs -y choco

3. Verify the Emacs version you installed with the following command. —version emacs

You should see something like the picture below, which shows the Emacs version installed on your machine.

The current version of Emacs is shown. The current version of Emacs is shown.

Creating, Editing, and Saving a File

So you’ve set up Emacs. So, what’s next? To see Emacs in action, go right in and start editing a text file. To modify and save a text file, follow the instructions below.

1. In PowerShell, execute the emacs command followed by the filename to open a file in Emacs. The command below allows you to modify the file myPowerShellScript.ps1. The -nw flag instructs emacs to open the editor in the same terminal window (PowerShell) as the current command. myPowerShellScript.ps1 emacs -nw

myPowerShellScript.ps1 emacs -nw

At the top of the editor, there will be many dropdown choices. Click the Help dropdown menu to see the Emacs help manual.

Using Emacs to open a file Using Emacs to open a file

2. Make any necessary changes to the file, then save the changes by hitting CTRL+X and CTRL+S in that order. The file save confirmation may be found at the bottom of the editor, as illustrated below.

Putting the file away Putting the file away

3. To quit the editor, hit CTRL+X, then CTRL+C on your keyboard.

Text Replacement and Search

How do you do a search and replace operation now that you know the fundamentals of Emacs? To do so, follow the instructions below.

1. To search for a text, use CTRL+S and input the text to search next to the I-search window. The following example looks for the word Hello.

Looking for text Looking for text

2. On your keyboard, press ALT+ percent (the equivalent as ALT+SHIFT+5) to start the search and replace option.

3. Then, next to the Query replace: prompt, write the text you want to search for and hit Enter.

I'm looking for the text I want to change. I’m looking for the text I want to change.

4. Then, next to the question, write the replacement text and hit Enter.

Replacing the original text Replacing the original text

5. Finally, at the Query replacing <old text> with <new text>: prompt, press ! to confirm and replace all occurrences of the text.

All occurrences of the matching text should be replaced. All occurrences of the matching text should be replaced.

As a consequence, as you can see below, Emacs rewrote the text. Emacs also displays the number of times the text it substituted appears at the bottom of the editor.

The search text was replaced by Emacs. The search text was replaced by Emacs.

6. To exit the editor, hit CTRL+X, then CTRL+C on your keyboard. Run the script again. Your new message will be shown in the output.

The script's result The script’s result

5 PowerShell Script Examples to Get You Started With Scripting

Conclusion

You’ve learned the fundamentals of utilizing three PowerShell text editors, as well as the advantages of each. Don’t spend time setting up an external text editor the next time you need to edit a file from the terminal. Open Nano, Vim, or Emacs and make your changes with only a few keystrokes!

Which text editor in PowerShell did you prefer? Are there any additional text editors that weren’t mentioned in this tutorial?

The “powershell edit text file line” is a command that allows users to open and edit a text file in PowerShell. The command can be used to fix errors, add or remove lines from the file, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I edit a text file in PowerShell?

A: To edit a text file in PowerShell, you can simply use the Set-Content cmdlet. For example, to change this is my test into this is your test, type this command and hit Enter:
Set-Content
ThisIsYourTest.txt -Value $(your favorite song).Name

How do I create and edit a file in PowerShell?

A: To create and edit a file in PowerShell, you must first open the command prompt window. This is done by clicking on Start located at the bottom left corner of your screen. From there, search for cmd, which should show up as an option that says Command Prompt. Once its found, click on this so you can enter commands into it to accomplish what needs to be accomplished.

What editor comes with PowerShell?

A: PowerShell comes with a built-in editor that allows you to edit your scripts by using the keyboard, mouse and other input devices.

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