Weekend Scripter: The Case of the Disappearing PowerShell Console

Summary: Ed Wilson, Microsoft Scripting Guy, talks about fixing a problem where his Windows PowerShell console disappears.

Microsoft Scripting Guy, Ed Wilson, is here. So there I was, on a two week trip, out of time, with only my laptop, and I needed to use Windows PowerShell. Most of the time, I use the Windows PowerShell console, but I do occasionally use the Windows PowerShell ISE. At home, I have a nice-sized second monitor that is attached to my laptop—but I do not—actually the truth is, I rarely travel with my second monitor. I have been known to take it with me on a road trip.

So I click to open the Windows PowerShell console and…nothing. Hmm, I try it again. This time I noticed that the Windows PowerShell console had in fact opened—it was just missing. As shown here, I noticed a white underline beneath the Windows PowerShell console icon I have on my tool bar in Windows 10.

Image of tool bar

I pressed CTRL + Shift + Esc to bring up Task Manager. I saw that Windows PowerShell was in fact running, but I could not see it:

Image of menu

I ended my Windows PowerShell session, closed the Task Manager, and tried again. I confirmed that Windows PowerShell was loading, but it was not visible. Bummer.

Finding a visible Windows PowerShell console

Then I had an idea…

I can use the Windows PowerShell ISE, but I still wanted the Windows PowerShell console. Guess what? There is an icon for the Windows PowerShell console in the tool bar of the Windows PowerShell ISE. I clicked that, and it worked. The icon is shown here:

Image of menu

And that is what I did for two weeks. I clicked the little Windows PowerShell icon on the Windows PowerShell ISE tool bar, and then I had an instance of the Windows PowerShell console I could use. It was not too bad because I often have both the ISE and the console open anyway, but I used to always open the console first—so this was a learning opportunity.

One day, I searched through the registry hoping I could find something that was storing the screen location (usually in pixels in the x and y coordinates). I was hoping to see how it’s opening window position was set, but alas, I did not find it. It might be there, but I could not find it in the 15 minutes I devoted to the task.

Fixing the problem

Eventually I decided to email our internal Windows PowerShell discussion group to see if anyone else had experienced this problem, and if anyone had come up with a solution. After I sent the email, I quickly saw several people replying with +1, which in Microsoft email speak means that they are also having the same problem. Within 15 minutes, someone from our support group replied that I should look at the properties of my Windows PowerShell console window. Remember, that I can get to one via the Windows PowerShell ISE icon.

To find the Windows PowerShell console properties, I click the Windows PowerShell icon in the upper left corner of the Windows PowerShell console window, and then I select Properties from the action menu:

Image of menu

I select the Let System position Window check box on the Layout tab:

Image of menu

He also told me something else that I didn’t know: If the Windows PowerShell console opens off screen, I can click the Windows PowerShell icon on the tool bar to get focus. Then I can press Alt + Spacebar to open the context menu, and press M to enable me to move the Windows PowerShell console via the arrow keys. Cool.

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 (5)

  1. Jon P says:

    To expand on the Alt+Spacebar and M trick, here’s the quick and easy way to get back a window that’s stuck off-screen:
    1. Make sure the hidden window is active.
    2. Press Alt+Spacebar and then M.
    3. Press any cursor key once.
    4. Move your mouse. You’ll see an outline of your window.
    5. Left-click anywhere to release the window and make it visible.

  2. Josh Castillo says:

    I have this happen to me all the time due to docking and undocking with different screen configurations. I solve this by opening the PowerShell window followed by the Win+Left or Win+right keys. I press those a few times and watch the window sneak its
    way back into view.

  3. james says:

    Another option: Once the window is in focus, press the Windows Key + Shift + Left or Right arrow.

  4. mark f says:

    Another option is to change your graphics resolution, which causes the window manager to rearrange the open windows onto the visible screen. Then change back to your original resolution.

  5. Olaf S says:

    Another ‘Sleek, stylish, and ultra-portable’ solution for you could be a portable USB-Display like the ‘HP EliteDisplay S140u’ or similar devices. 😉

    Have a nice WE

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