Chapter 3. Using the help system

In the first chapter of this book, we mentioned that discoverability is a key feature that makes graphical user interfaces (GUIs) easier to learn and use, and that -command-line interfaces (CLIs) like PowerShell are often more difficult because they lack those discoverability features. In fact, PowerShell has fantastic discoverability features—but they’re not that obvious. One of the main discoverability features is its help system.

3.1. The help system: how you discover commands

Bear with us for a minute as we climb up on a soapbox and preach to you.

We work in an industry that doesn’t place a lot of emphasis on reading, although we do have an acronym, RTFM, that we cleverly pass along to users when we wish they would read the friendly manual. Most administrators tend to dive right in, relying on things like tooltips, context menus, and so forth—those GUI discoverability tools—to figure out how to do something. That’s how we often work, and we imagine you do the same thing. But let’s be clear about one point:

If you aren’t willing to read PowerShell’s help files, you won’t be effective with PowerShell. You won’t learn how to use it, you won’t learn how to administer products like Windows with it, and you might as well stick with the GUI.

3.2. Updatable help

3.3. Asking for help

3.4. Using help to find commands

3.5. Interpreting the help

3.6. Accessing “about” topics

3.7. Accessing online help

3.8. Lab

3.9. Lab answers