Weekend Scripter: PowerShell and Chocolatey

Summary: Guest blogger and Honorary Scripting Guy, June Blender, talks about using Windows PowerShell and Chocolatey.

Microsoft Scripting Guy, Ed Wilson, is here. Today, I welcome back guest blogger, June Blender.

I’m probably one of five people on earth who really do not like chocolate, so I wasn’t too keen to learn about something called “Chocolatey.” But I kept hearing about Chocolatey and other “package installers,” such as NuGet, and I wanted to know what all of the fuss was about. Then along comes Windows PowerShell 5.0 Preview with a module called OneGet that works with Chocolatey. It was clearly past time to figure it out.

What’s a package installer?

Package installers install programs and groups of related programs called packages. In this guise, they’re not much different than an EXE or MSI file. But unlike simple installers, package installers also know about dependencies, which are other programs that the to-be-installed program requires, and they’ll install any missing dependencies for you automatically. Beyond that, they solve easy problems, such as expanding zip files and installing tools in a consistent place. They can also solve very difficult installation problems for you, including installing programs on your computer that are designed for a different platform or operating system.

This last feature is truly the most appealing. I took a great Android app programming class from Coursera called Creative, Serious, and Playful Science of Android Apps. It’s a terrific class, and I really recommend it. For me, the most difficult part of the class was installing the programming tools on my PC, which is running Windows, because they’re designed for an iOS or UNIX platform. I had to install five tools to install the tools that I needed. These include a tool to unzip (or whatever) TGZ files, appropriately called “tarballs.” Well-designed package installers handle this mess for you.

Package installers are also great for open-source collaborative projects, like those on GitHub. Contributors can collect their files into packages and submit the package in a pull request. When other contributors clone the project, they can use the package installer to install all of the contributed pieces.

What’s Chocolatey?

Chocolatey is a package installer that’s designed especially for working with Windows PowerShell. You can learn all about Chocolatey at the Chocolatey Gallery site. Chocolatey is also an open-source project. You can view and contribute to the Chocolatey source at Chocolatey GitHub.

You can use Windows PowerShell to script Chocolatey installations, but you can also use the search feature on the pretty Chocolatey Packages website:

Image of website

What’s OneGet?

OneGet is a Windows PowerShell module that is included in Windows Management Framework 5.0 Preview. The cmdlets in the module manage packages, including those on the Chocolatey site. They find packages, get installed packages, get the source of a package, and uninstall packages, among other things. 

OneGet includes Windows PowerShell cmdlets with names like Find-Package, Get-Package, and Install-Package. The preview version gets only Chocolatey packages, but I bet that will change. Also, the preview version doesn’t yet have Help files, although it’s set up for updatable Help. Again, we’ll probably see those when the full product is released.

Installing OneGet and/or Chocolatey

You can install OneGet or Chocolatey or both. They’re completely independent, and they don’t require each other.

You can install Windows Management Framework 5.0 Preview (with OneGet) from the Microsoft Download Center: Windows Management Framework 5.0 Preview May 2014.

To install Chocolatey, run the Install.ps1 script from the Chocolatey website (inspect it first):

  1. Start Windows PowerShell with the “Run as administrator” option.
  2. At the Windows PowerShell prompt, run the following command. It starts a web-based script (Install.ps1), which installs Chocolatey. You don’t need to replace any values.

Invoke-Expression ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString('https://chocolatey.org/install.ps1'))

Try OneGet!

Let’s play with the OneGet module so we have a sense of how it works.

Find-Package cmdlet

The Find-Package cmdlet gets information about all available packages. It returns a SoftwareIdentity object (Microsoft.OneGet.Core.Packaging.SoftwareIdentity) for each package.

Be patient. The cmdlet can take a full minute to run because it’s getting data from a website.

Image of command output

In the preview, the source is always “Chocolatey” and the status is always “Available,” but it’s only a preview.

PS C:\> Find-Package | Group-Object –Property Source

Count Name                      Group

—– —-                      —–

 2050 chocolatey                {Microsoft.OneGet.Core.Packaging.SoftwareIdentity, Mi


PS C:\> Find-Package | Group-Object –Property Status

Count Name                      Group

—– —-                      —–

 2050 Available                 {Microsoft.OneGet.Core.Packaging.SoftwareIdentity, Mi

You can use the Name parameter of Find-Package to filter by package name. You can enter part of the package name, but this cmdlet does not support wildcard characters. Cmdlets that launch REST APIs (web page queries) rarely do.

This command gets packages with names that include Autorun:

PS C:\> Find-Package -Name Autorun


Name               Version   Status    Source         Summary

—-               ——-   ——    ——         ——-

AutoRuns           12.0      Available chocolatey     Shows what programs are

AutorunscPortable  Available chocolatey

AutorunsPortable  Available chocolatey


PS C:\> Find-Package -Name Autorun*

WARNING: No Package Found:Autorun*

The SoftwareIdentity object includes useful information about the package. This command gets the Autoruns package and formats all (*) of its properties in a list:

PS C:\> Find-Package -Name Autoruns | Format-List -Property *

ProviderName  : Chocolatey

Source        : chocolatey

Name          : AutoRuns

Version       : 12.0

VersionScheme : semver

Status        : Available

Summary       : Shows what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login

Install-Package cmdlet

To install a package, use the Install-Package cmdlet. You can also pipe a Find-Package command to the Install-Package cmdlet.

I use the parameters of the Find-Package cmdlet to create a command that gets only the package that I want to install. Then, I pipe it to Install-Package. I use the Verbose parameter to see where the package is installed.

   Note  To see all parameters of Find-Package, type: Get-Command Find-Package –Syntax.

PS C:\> Find-Package -Name Autoruns -RequiredVersion 12.0


Name     Version    Status    Source         Summary

—-     ——-    ——    ——         ——-

AutoRuns 12.0       Available chocolatey     Shows what programs are configured…


PS C:\> Find-Package -Name Autoruns -RequiredVersion 12.0 | Install-Package -Verbose

The Install-Package cmdlet prompts me to verify that I trust the package and then installs it. It begins by installing a ZIP file in a temporary directory in my user profile. Then it unzips the file and installs it in a C:\chocolatey directory.

PS C:\ps-test> Find-Package -Name Autoruns -RequiredVersion 12.0 | Install-Package –Verbose

Installing Package 'AutoRuns' from untrusted source

WARNING: This package source is not marked as safe. Are you sure you want to install software from 'chocolatey'

[Y] Yes  [N] No  [S] Suspend  [?] Help (default is "Y"): y

VERBOSE: Performing the operation "Install Package" on target "AutoRuns".

VERBOSE: NuGet:Installing 'AutoRuns 12.0'.

VERBOSE: NuGet:Successfully installed 'AutoRuns 12.0'.

VERBOSE: InstallChocolateyZipPackage:AutoRuns

VERBOSE: CreateFolder


VERBOSE: GetChocolateyWebFile:AutoRuns => http://download.sysinternals.com/files/Autoruns.zip

VERBOSE: Downloading:'http://download.sysinternals.com/files/Autoruns.zip' to




VERBOSE: CreateFolder — C:\Chocolatey\lib\AutoRuns.12.0

VERBOSE: Taking Snapshot:C:\Chocolatey\lib\AutoRuns.12.0\Tools

VERBOSE: CreateFolder — C:\Chocolatey\lib\AutoRuns.12.0\Tools

VERBOSE: Diffing Snapshot:C:\Chocolatey\lib\AutoRuns.12.0\Tools

VERBOSE: Package Successfully Installed:AutoRuns

Name     Version    Status    Source         Summary

—-     ——-    ——    ——         ——-

AutoRuns 12.0       Available chocolatey     Shows what programs are configured…

To indicate that the installation was successful, Install-Package returns a SoftwareIdentity object that represents the package that it installed. You can use this feature in a script that includes a package installation, for example:

if (Get-Package Autoruns | Install-Package) { <do the next thing> }


Foreach ($pkg in $packages)


$result = Install-Package -Name $pkg

if ($result.Name –eq $pkg) {<do the next thing>}


Get-Package cmdlet

To get all packages that the OneGet cmdlets installed, use the Get-Package cmdlet. (Get-Package gets only packages that Install-Package installed. It does not get packages that you install by other means, including Chocolatey.

PS C:\>Get-Package

Name     Version    Status    Source         Summary

—-     ——-    ——    ——         ——-

AutoRuns 12.0       Available chocolatey     Shows what programs are configured…

To run the package, at the Windows PowerShell prompt, type Autoruns. (You can also use the Start page, Start menu, or Run box.) The starting method might differ for other tools.    

To uninstall the package, use the Uninstall-Package cmdlet. I’ve installed and uninstalled packages repeatedly without any errors, so test away!

Try Chocolatey!

Now let’s try Chocolatey.

To install Chocolatey when you have the OneGet module, use the Install-Package cmdlet:

PS C:\> Find-Package –Name Chocolatey

Name        Version          Status           Source         Summary

—-        ——-          ——           ——         ——-

chocolatey  Available        chocolatey     Chocolatey is your machine level N…


PS C:\> Find-Package –Name Chocolatey | Install-Package -Verbose

I’ll use Windows PowerShell to run the Chocolatey commands, but you do not need to have Windows PowerShell or OneGet to run the commands. You can use the website or the native or GUI Chocolatey clients.

When you review the Chocolatey commands, you’ll notice immediately that the command names don’t have the familiar verb-noun format of cmdlets. And Get-Help won’t help you with these commands. The following Chocolatey wiki is useful: Command Reference.

To run Chocolatey commands without warnings, you must start Windows PowerShell with the “Run as administrator” option (also known as “elevated”).

To search for a package (the equivalent of Find-Package), use the List or Search commands. These commands are aliases of each other, and they can be used interchangeably.

For example, to search for the Autoruns tool, type:

[ADMIN] PS C:\> choco list Autoruns

AutoRuns 12.0

Again, you can type part of the name of the tool you’re searching for, such as choco list Auto, but you cannot use wildcard characters.

[ADMIN] PS C:> choco search Autorun

AutoRuns 12.0





The List and Search commands search all fields for the Autorun phrase, not only the name field. In this case, the description of the cmdaliases tool includes “autorun.” Also, the Chocolatey commands return strings of the package names. They don’t return SoftwareIdentity objects. 

To install a package, use the choco install or cinst command. The following command installs the Autoruns tool.

PS C:\> choco install Autoruns

Chocolatey doesn’t have a command like Get-Package, but it does have commands to uninstall packages and get the source code for the package.

Using OneGet and Chocolatey together

You can use both OneGet and Chocolatey. However, in OneGet preview and the current incarnation of Chocolatey, they’re not aware of each other. For example, Get-Package gets only the packages that Install-Package installs. It doesn’t get the packages that Chocolatey installs.

The installation location might vary with the package that you install, but Chocolatey installs the Autoruns tool in a different place than Install-Package installs it. If you use both, the installations are independent. This isn’t a problem for a simple tool like Autoruns, but it might create problems for more complex packages.

OneGet: C:\Chocolatey\lib\AutoRuns.12.0\Tools\Autoruns.exe

Chocolatey: C:\ProgramData\chocolatey\lib\AutoRuns.12.0\Tools

Is Find-Package temporary?

One more hint before you start scripting. 

The Find-Package command gets data from a website (or websites) where the data changes frequently. The results of Find-Package time out, even if you save them in a variable. If you save the output for more than a few minutes, it disappears.

For example, if you save the results of the Find-Package cmdlet in an $a variable, you can display the value of $a as usual. But if you wait a few minutes and repeat the command that displays the value of $a, the value is gone!

PS C:\> $a = Find-Package

PS C:\> $a | Format-Table –Property Name, Summary -Autosize

Name                      Summary

—-                      ——-

1password                 1Password – Have you ever forgotten a password?

7zip                      7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression

7zip.commandline          7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression

7zip.install              7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression

ack                       ack is a tool like grep, designed


ActiveMQ                  Apache ActiveMQ is a messaging and integration server

ActivePerl                ActivePerl is the leading commercial-grade ActivePerl-EqEmu-x86      ActivePerl-EqEmu-x86


Wait 3 minutes…

PS C:\> $a | Format-Table -Property Name, Summary -Autosize

Name Summary

—- ——-

The objects are still there, but their content is missing.

PS C:\ps-test> $a | Get-Member

   TypeName: Microsoft.OneGet.Core.Packaging.SoftwareIdentity

Name                      MemberType Definition

—-                      ———- ———-

CreateObjRef              Method     System.Runtime.Remoting.ObjRef CreateObjRef(type requestedType)

Equals                    Method     bool Equals(System.Object obj)

GetHashCode               Method     int GetHashCode()

GetLifetimeService        Method     System.Object GetLifetimeService()

GetType                   Method     type GetType()

InitializeLifetimeService Method     System.Object InitializeLifetimeService()

ToString                  Method     string ToString()

Name                      Property   string Name {get;set;}

ProviderName              Property   string ProviderName {get;set;}

Source                    Property   string Source {get;set;}

Status                    Property   string Status {get;set;}

Summary                   Property   string Summary {get;set;}

Version                   Property   string Version {get;set;}

VersionScheme             Property   string VersionScheme {get;set;}


PS C:\> $a[0]

Name      Version          Status           Source         Summary

—-      ——-          ——           ——         ——-

You might never encounter this in a script, but if you’re playing around in the console, it might surprise you.

Now, go off and have fun. There are some amazing Chocolatey packages. I installed a trial version of my favorite tool, .NET Reflector from Red Gate Software. And ironically, I installed 7Zip, which unzips any file type, even though I might never need to use it again.


Thanks, June. This is useful and fun. Great job.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any questions, send email to me at scripter@microsoft.com, or post your questions on the Official Scripting Guys Forum. See you tomorrow. Until then, peace.

Ed Wilson, Microsoft Scripting Guy 

Comments (7)

  1. David Wyatt says:

    I stopped reading after "do not like chocolate". 😛 (Kidding, of course!)

  2. Great article. thank you

  3. John says:

    Looks like someone has taken more than one leaf out of the apt-* commands from Debian, but that’s more than fine. Great ideas should be re-used wherever there’s a need for them.

  4. Keith Hill says:

    Along with .NET Reflector you can also install the completely free dotPeek from JetBrains as well as Fiddler – a very handy tool for debugging web request/rest method calls.

  5. @eric_camplin says:

    June – thanks for the concise overview to resources to get it done coverage.. Great blog!

  6. Rob Reynolds says:

    Good article! However I have one small area to nitpick. Chocolatey is a tool/app/whatever. It is NOT a set of powershell cmdlets. When I see this, I always think of someone comparing the "copy" tool to Copy-Item.

    "When you review the copy command, you’ll notice immediately that it doesn’t have the familiar verb-noun format of cmdlets." Does that seem a bit silly in when you change the context up just a little?