It’s all about Progress: Using the PowerShell Write-Progress CmdLet

If you are like me and you like to know how your task is going in a PowerShell process, this is a great little tip for you.

I’ve got a number of long running scripts that perform actions against a collection or query. The ideal thing to have for these is some kind of progress bar to be able to find out how far along your script is.

There are a number of scripts out there which help you to create a full graphical progress bar, but the challenge with those is that it engages lots of external libraries and you very quickly find yourself in a heavy duty yak shaving exercise spending more time getting the progress bar working than working on your actual script.

This is where Write-Progress will be a quick and friendly way to get you what you need. The simple CmdLet allows you to write a progress indicator which is overlaid on the screen as the script runs:

I’ve always been a big fan of using Growl for services but adding Growl integration is a bit heavy handed for many small scripts. Write-Progress lets you show a percentage completed by measuring against a counter that you set.

Progress by Count

Here is a simple example. We will write a number of items into a variable and then output the contents while showing a progress bar to indicate where in the output stream you are.

$comms = Get-Command


ForEach ($comm in $comms) {


Write-Host $comm

Write-Progress -activity “Listing Commands” -status “Status: ” -PercentComplete (($i / $comms.count)*100)


It’s a rudimentary example to show you how to add counter logic into a script. As the collection counter rises, it is measured against the sum of objects in the collection which gives you the percentage.

Here is what you see on the screen:

Another sample use case is that you want to perform numerous actions against a number of objects such as users. Remember that to use the Write-Progress feature you simply need to add a counter in your collection and calculate the progress of your counter against the collection total for display.

For the full detail of the CmdLet options, run the Get-Help Write-Progress -Detailed for the full help display.

So to break down the sample, here is how to add the Write-Progress feature into a script:

  • Create your collection: $comms = Get-Command
  • Clear your counter: $I = 0
  • Loop through the collection: ForEach ($comm in $comms) {
  • Increment your counter: $I++
  • Write your output as per usual: Write-Host $comm
  • Write your progress bar (see below)
  • End your loop: }

The parameters we use for the Progress bar are -activity, -Status and -PercentageComplete which appear in your output as shown here:

It’s just that easy! All you have to do is use this same method and apply it to your particular collection. It’s a little thing, but can be very helpful with long running processes and scripts to give feedback to the operator, particularly if you don’t write other output to the screen.


2 thoughts on “It’s all about Progress: Using the PowerShell Write-Progress CmdLet”

    • Hi Matt,

      Unfortunately I haven’t worked with the Windows forms to see how it could come into play. Almost all of my script work is background tasks and scheduled tasks so admittedly I just don’t have the expertise on this one.

      I quickly found this stackoverflow post:

      I’ll see if I can get more info and give this a whirl and get more info for you.

      Sorry for not having the fix at the moment. If you do find something that works in the mean time I’d love to see the code 🙂



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