PowerShell: Store Entire Text File Contents in Variable

To get the entire contents of a file:

$content = [IO.File]::ReadAllText(".\test.txt")

Number of lines:



(gc .\test.ps1).length

Sort of hackish to include trailing empty line:


On a side note, in PowerShell 3.0 you can use the Get-Content cmdlet with the new Raw switch:

$text = Get-Content .\file.txt -Raw 

One more approach to reading a file that I happen to like is referred to variously as variable notation or variable syntax and involves simply enclosing a filespec within curly braces preceded by a dollar sign, to wit:

$content = ${C:file.txt}

This notation may be used as either an L-value or an R-value; thus, you could just as easily write to a file with something like this:

 ${D:\path\to\file.txt} = $content

Another handy use is that you can modify a file in place without a temporary file and without sub-expressions, for example:

${C:file.txt} = ${C:file.txt} | select -skip 1

I became fascinated by this notation initially because it was very difficult to find out anything about it! Even the PowerShell 2.0 specification mentions it only once showing just one line using it--but with no explanation or details of use at all. I have subsequently found this blog entry on PowerShell variables that gives some good insights.

One final note on using this: you must use a drive designation, i.e. ${drive:filespec} as I have done in all the examples above. Without the drive (e.g. ${file.txt}) it does not work. No restrictions on the filespec on that drive: it may be absolute or relative.

Powershell 2.0:

(see detailed explanation here)

$text = Get-Content $filePath | Out-String

The IO.File.ReadAllText didn't work for me with a relative path, it looks for the file in %USERPROFILE%\$filePath instead of the current directory (when running from Powershell ISE at least):

$text = [IO.File]::ReadAllText($filePath)

Powershell 3+:

$text = Get-Content $filePath -Raw