PowerShell Get-Childitem -Exclude

PowerShell GCI -Exclude Parameter

If you want to refine the output of Get-ChildItem (GCI), then consider the -Exclude parameter.  This technique seems more reliable than using PowerShell’s -Include parameter.

Topics for Get-ChildItem -Exclude


Example 1: To Exclude Particular Items

Scenario: You want a list of files, but wish to eliminate particular names, and thus have a more focussed inventory.  Take a trivial example: we need a list of SystemRoot\System32 files, but we don’t want to see any NLS (national language service) files.

# PowerShell -Exclude example
$FileSource = "$env:SystemRoot\system32"
$List = Get-ChildItem -Path $FileSource -Exclude *nls*
Write-Host ‘Number of files: ‘ $List.count

Note 1: I have introduced three variables to make it easier to amend my example.  $env:SystemRoot usually corresponds to C: \Windows.

Note 2: The .count property makes it easier to see the effect of changing values for -Exclude.

Example 2: To Exclude More Than One Item

Here is how to add more items to exclude using the simple comma.

# PowerShell example to exclude multiple items
$FileSource = "$env:SystemRoot\system32"
$List = Get-ChildItem -Path $FileSource -Exclude *nls*, *audio*, *xa*
$List | Sort-Object Name
Write-Host "Number of files: " $List.count

Note 4: I like to surround the excluded letters with *wildcards*,  for multiple items separate them with separate with a comma.  For no particular reason I sorted the list of files.

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Example 3: Excluding Using a Where-Object Clause

Where-Object is no longer my first choice for filtering data; instead I seek out faster, or technically superior constructions.  However, you cannot beat the  versatility of its conditional operators; in this case ‘notMatch’.

$FileSource = "$env:SystemRoot\system32"
$List = GCI -Path $FileSource | Where-Object {$_.Name -NotMatch "nls"}
Write-Host "Number of files: " $List.count

Note 5:  The Where-Object clause allows through all files that don’t match the letters "nls".

Note 6: To save word-wrapping the third line I substituted the alias GCI for Get-ChildItem.

Which Technique is Faster, Where-Object or -Exclude?

I bet that -Exclude would be faster.  Let us call for PowerShell’s Measure-Command to see if my prediction was correct.

Experiment 1: Measuring the Speed of Where-Object

Measure-Command {
$FileSource = "$env:SystemRoot\system32"
$List = Get-ChildItem -Path $FileSource | Where-Object {$_.Name -NotMatch "nls"}
Write-Host "Number of files: " $List.count

Result: 410 milliseconds.  I use the fastest of 3 runs to allow for bias due to caching.

Experiment 2: Measuring the Speed of -Exclude

Measure-Command {
$FileSource = "$env:SystemRoot\system32"
$List = Get-ChildItem -Path $FileSource -Exclude *nls*
Write-Host "Number of files: "$List.count

Result: 625 milliseconds (fastest of 3 runs)

I was shocked that using PowerShell’s Where-Object was faster than the -Exclude parameter.  See more examples of Measure-Command.

Creating an Array of -Exclude Items

Employing lots of variables is rarely the road to writing the tightest code; however, variables are helpful when troubleshooting errors or tweaking scripts.  When working with -Exclude I often wish to extend the list of text strings, and it makes it easier to read if I assign this list to a variable.  I was annoyed that no matter of tweaking the speech marks, or punctuation could get this to work:

$Eliminate = "*nls*", "*audio*", "*xa*"

Fortunately, there was a solution, and that was to create a simple array thus:

$Eliminate = @("*nls*", "*audio*", "*xa*")

# PowerShell -Exclude with @(array)
$FileSource = "$env:SystemRoot\system32"
$Eliminate = @("*nls*", "*audio*", "*xa*")
$List = Get-ChildItem -Path $FileSource -Exclude $Eliminate
$List | Sort-Object Name
Write-Host "Number of files: " $List.count

Note 7: Observe how @( introduces the array, and how each element is enclosed a double quote.  The separator for the elements is the comma.

Further Research on Get-ChildItem

Get-Help for Get-ChildItem

# Research PowerShell Get-Childitem Parameters
Get-Help Get-Childitem -Full

Note 8: Get-Help reveals useful parameters such as -Include, -Force, and the most useful -Recurse.

Note 9: Here is function I created to extend what Get-ChildItem can achieve.  PowerShell Get-File function.

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Research PowerShell Commands which Use the -Exclude Parameter

# PowerShell script to research parameters
Get-Command | Where { $_.parameters.keys -Contains "Exclude"}

Discover More Members of PowerShell’s  "-Item" Family

# Members of PowerShell’s Item Family
Get-Command -Noun *Item

Get-ChildItem (Basics)
Get-Item (gi)

Compare with PowerShell’s -Include parameter »

Summary of Get-ChildItem -Exclude

When you need to improve the output of Get-ChildItem, then the -Exclude parameter enables you to filter the output.  For multiple items consider using an array.

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See more Microsoft PowerShell file tutorials:

PowerShell Home   • Add-Content   • Get-Content   • Set-Content  • PowerShell -Filter   • Test-Path

PowerShell Get-ChildItem   • Get-ChildItem -Include   • Get-ChildItem -Exclude   • Compare-Object

PowerShell Registry  • Get-Credential  • PowerShell ItemProperty  • PowerShell ItemPropery GCI

Please email me if you have a better example script. Also please report any factual mistakes, grammatical errors or broken links, I will be happy to correct the fault.