Mastering Get-ChildItem for Directories Only – Example Script

Have you ever wanted to retrieve a list of directories in PowerShell without the hassle of filtering out files? Look no further! In this article, I will show you how to master Get-ChildItem to effortlessly obtain directories only. Say goodbye to tedious manual filtering and save time with this powerful cmdlet.

When working with PowerShell, Get-ChildItem is an invaluable tool for obtaining the contents of directories. By default, it retrieves both files and folders. However, in this article, we will focus solely on retrieving directories using Get-ChildItem.

Whether you’re new to PowerShell or an experienced user, understanding how to effectively use Get-ChildItem for directories only will enhance your scripting capabilities and simplify your directory management tasks. Let’s dive in and explore the syntax, parameters, and advanced options of Get-ChildItem for directories only, step by step.

Key Takeaways:

  • Get-ChildItem is a powerful cmdlet in PowerShell for retrieving directories and other child items from a specified location.
  • By mastering Get-ChildItem for directories only, you can efficiently manage and manipulate directories in your PowerShell scripts.
  • The -Directory parameter allows you to filter the Get-ChildItem results to display only folders.
  • Combining the -Directory parameter with other parameters, such as -Path or -Filter, provides flexibility in retrieving directories.
  • Get-ChildItem offers advanced options for sorting, filtering, and performing recursive searches within directories.

Understanding Get-ChildItem and its Parameters

The Get-ChildItem cmdlet is a fundamental tool in PowerShell for retrieving child items from a specified location. It provides a versatile way to navigate the file system, retrieve files and folders, and gather information about them. To effectively use Get-ChildItem, it’s crucial to understand its syntax and parameters.

The syntax of Get-ChildItem is straightforward:

  1. Get-ChildItem – This is the cmdlet itself, indicating that we want to retrieve child items.
  2. Path – This parameter specifies the location from which we want to retrieve the child items. It can be a local or remote path, and it supports wildcard characters and PowerShell providers, such as the Registry or Active Directory.
  3. Filter – This optional parameter allows us to filter the results based on specific criteria. We can use wildcards or regular expressions to narrow down the selection.
  4. Include – This parameter allows us to specify particular file or folder names to include in the results. It supports wildcard patterns.
  5. Exclude – This parameter excludes specific file or folder names from the results. It also supports wildcard patterns.
  6. Recurse – This parameter enables us to recursively search for child items within subdirectories.

By using these parameters, we can customize the behavior of Get-ChildItem and retrieve the desired child items. Let’s take a look at an example:

Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Documents -Filter *.txt -Recurse

In the above example, I’m using Get-ChildItem to retrieve all text files (with a .txt extension) within the “Documents” directory and its subdirectories on the C drive.

Understanding the parameters of Get-ChildItem is crucial for using the cmdlet effectively and efficiently. It allows us to tailor the retrieval process to our specific needs and automate various tasks within PowerShell scripts.

Retrieving Directories with Get-ChildItem

To retrieve directories only with Get-ChildItem, we can use the -Directory parameter. By specifying -Directory, the cmdlet will filter the results to display only folders. This allows us to easily get a list of directories in a specified location. We can also combine the -Directory parameter with other parameters, such as -Path or -Filter, to further refine the retrieval.

In the example below, I will demonstrate how to use the -Directory parameter to retrieve directories from the “C:\Files” location:

Get-ChildItem -Path "C:\Files" -Directory

This command will return a list of directories located within the “C:\Files” directory.

Additionally, you can use the -Filter parameter with the -Directory parameter to narrow down the retrieval based on specific criteria. For example, to retrieve directories with the name “Documents” within the “C:\Files” location, you can use the following command:

Get-ChildItem -Path "C:\Files" -Directory -Filter "Documents"

This command will return the directories named “Documents” within the “C:\Files” directory.

Using Get-ChildItem with the -Directory parameter provides a straightforward way to retrieve directories and organize your PowerShell scripts efficiently. Combine it with other parameters to further customize your retrieval and meet your specific requirements.

Now, let’s explore various examples of using Get-ChildItem to retrieve directories and discuss different scenarios where this can be useful.

Example Directory Retrieval

Let’s consider an example where we want to retrieve directories containing images from a specific folder. We can use the following Get-ChildItem command:

Get-ChildItem -Path "C:\Images" -Directory

This command will list all the directories within the “C:\Images” folder. Here’s an example of what the output might look like:

Directory Name
Family Photos
Vacation Pictures
Personal Albums

By using the -Directory parameter, we have retrieved only the directories, excluding any files that might be present within the “C:\Images” folder. This allows us to easily identify and work with the directories containing our image collections.

Advanced Options for Get-ChildItem

When working with Get-ChildItem, there are advanced options available to further enhance your directory retrieval. These options allow you to sort the results, filter them based on specific criteria, and even perform recursive searches. Let’s explore these advanced options and see how they can be leveraged effectively in PowerShell.

Sorting Results with Get-ChildItem

One of the advanced options for Get-ChildItem is the ability to sort the results based on different properties such as name, size, or last write time. This can be achieved using the Sort-Object cmdlet. By specifying the desired property, you can easily organize the directory listing in a way that best suits your needs.

# Sort Get-ChildItem output by name
Get-ChildItem -Directory | Sort-Object -Property Name

Filtering Results with Get-ChildItem

Filtering the results of Get-ChildItem allows you to narrow down your search and retrieve directories that meet specific criteria. The Where-Object cmdlet can be used for this purpose. By specifying the desired conditions, you can easily filter out unwanted directories from the result set.

# Filter Get-ChildItem output to retrieve directories with a specific name
Get-ChildItem -Directory | Where-Object { $_.Name -like “*specific_name*” }

Recursive Search with Get-ChildItem

In addition to sorting and filtering, Get-ChildItem also supports recursive searches. This means you can retrieve directories not only from the specified location but also from its subdirectories. To enable recursive search, you can use the -Recurse parameter.

# Retrieve directories recursively using Get-ChildItem
Get-ChildItem -Directory -Recurse

By utilizing these advanced options, you can enhance the flexibility and power of Get-ChildItem in your PowerShell scripts. Whether you need to sort the results, filter them based on specific conditions, or perform recursive searches, Get-ChildItem has got you covered. Experiment with these options and take your directory retrieval to the next level.

Now that we have explored the advanced options for Get-ChildItem, we are getting closer to mastering this powerful cmdlet for retrieving directories in PowerShell. In the next section, we will summarize our learnings and discuss the benefits of using Get-ChildItem exclusively for directories. Stay tuned!


In summary, Get-ChildItem is an invaluable cmdlet in PowerShell that allows you to effortlessly retrieve directories and other child items from specific locations. By mastering Get-ChildItem for directories only, you gain the ability to efficiently manage and manipulate directories in your PowerShell scripts, saving you time and effort.

We have covered the basic syntax and parameters of Get-ChildItem, providing you with a solid foundation for using this powerful tool. In addition, we explored different methods for retrieving directories only, such as using the -Directory parameter and combining it with other parameters for more precise results.

Furthermore, we delved into the advanced options available with Get-ChildItem, including sorting the results and applying filters based on specific criteria. The recursive search capability proved to be particularly useful when retrieving directories from subdirectories.

By understanding and utilizing these features of Get-ChildItem, you can take full control of your directory management tasks in PowerShell. So, go ahead and master Get-ChildItem for directories only to enhance your PowerShell scripting skills and increase your efficiency in working with directories. Happy scripting!

Nilesh Kamble is Certified in Microsoft & GCP, having 13+ Years of Experience in IT Industry. As a Senior IT Employee, having vast experience on Windows Server, Windows Client, Powershell, Cloud Technologies. Passionate about Laptop, Mobiles & Other emerging Technologies.