'the term is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet' – How To Fix in Windows PowerShell

The one thing all Microsoft products have in common is the cryptic error messages they send you when something goes wrong. Rather than speaking in plain English for all of us to understand, Microsoft programs provide you with indecipherable gibberish that you have to Google to understand even from a distance. The "term is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet" error message in PowerShell is one such message.

PowerShell is a command line utility for use in Windows that allows some powerful applications and scripts to run. While the GUI is easy to use and gets the job done, a quick script can do a lot more in a much shorter time. If you run routines on dozens or hundreds of computers, scripts are a real lifesaver.

A "cmdlet" is a script or process executed in PowerShell. It is usually denoted by a word, then a hyphen, then another word. For example, Add-Computer or Start-service. As with any command line, exact syntax is essential.

Term not recognized in PowerShell

If you are already familiar with PowerShell, you should be able to identify the error from "the term is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet". If you're new to PowerShell, it will still sound like gibberish for a while.

There are many things that can go wrong with a PowerShell command, but three specific things are the most common. These are spelling, path or module. When you see "the term is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet" errors, it will likely be one of these three errors.

Spelling errors in PowerShell

If you spell something wrong, PowerShell won't be able to understand and run. This is usually the hardest to fix, as even a bad space can throw PowerShell off balance. When this happens, I find it best to highlight the typed text so it stands out a bit more, and then go through it letter by letter.

If there is a lot of text or it doesn't work for you, copy it to Notepad++ or another plain text editor and check it there. Retype it if you don't see any errors and try again. Don't use Word or a rich text editor as it messes up the formatting. Use a plain text editor such as Notepad or Notepad++.

Wrong path in PowerShell

If you use the wrong path, PowerShell won't be able to find your script. For example, if you point PowerShell to a particular folder and enter the wrong drive letter or point it to a share that isn't accessible, PowerShell won't be able to do its job.

This is often the case if you try to run a cmdlet on a remote computer. If this computer is locked or does not allow remote execution of certain scripts or modifications, an error will occur. In most situations, cmdlets can be run remotely, but some organizations only allow high-level scripts to run. Anything that changes security, policies, or basic settings will be locked. In this case, you will need to run the script locally.

You can use 'resolve-path' or check the path manually to see if this is the problem with your command.

Missing modules in PowerShell

If the module is missing or damaged, PowerShell will not be able to run it. By default, you must install modules to be able to use them. If this module is missing, corrupted or has been moved, it can generate the error "the term is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet".

You can use 'get-module' in PowerShell to see if the module is present and correct. It will show you which modules are loaded and you can add or fix according to your needs.

Using PowerShell on Windows

There's nothing wrong with a newcomer using PowerShell as long as you're careful. If you use it on a personal computer, the worst that can happen is that you need a system restore or rebuild. If you work on company computers, you may need to be more careful.

There are helpful resources for getting started with PowerShell, such as this page on the Microsoft Technet website. This Veeam page is also useful for those new to PowerShell. It explains what it is, how to use it, and offers plenty of information for newcomers.

Don't be intimidated by PowerShell if you're just starting out. Create a system restore point before you start and play. The worst thing you can do is ruin that Windows installation, but that's easy to fix for a home user!

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