‘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 give you when something goes wrong. Rather than speaking in plain English so we can all understand, Microsoft programs give you some undecipherable gibberish that you need to Google to even remotely understand. The ‘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 apps and scripts to run. While the GUI is easy to use and gets the job done, a quick script can achieve much more in a much shorter time. If you’re running routines over dozens or hundreds of computers, scripts are a genuine lifesaver.
A ‘cmdlet’ is a script or process run within PowerShell. It is usually denoted by a word, then a hyphen then another word. For example, Add-Computer or Start-service. As with everything command line, getting the syntax exactly right is essential.
Term not recognized in PowerShell
If you know PowerShell already, 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 look gibberish for a while.
There are lots of things that can go wrong with a PowerShell command but three specific things are the most common. They 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.
Spelling errors in PowerShell
If you spell something wrong, PowerShell won’t be able to understand and execute. This is usually the hardest to troubleshoot as even getting a space wrong can throw PowerShell off. When this happens, I find it best to highlight the input text so it stands out a little more and then go through it letter by letter.
If there is a lot of text or that doesn’t work for you, copy it into Notepad++ or other plain text editor and check it there. Retype it if you don’t see any errors and retry. Don’t use Word or rich text editor as it messes around with formatting. Use a plain text editor such as Notepad or Notepad++.
Wrong path in PowerShell
If you get the path wrong PowerShell won’t be able to find your script. For example, if you’re pointing PowerShell at a particular folder and you input the wrong drive letter or point it to a share that isn’t accessible, PowerShell won’t be able to do its thing.
This is often the case if you’re trying to execute a cmdlet on a remote computer. If that computer is locked down or does not allow remote execution of certain scripts or changes, it will error. In most situations, cmdlets can be run remotely but some organizations will only allow high level scripts to be run. Anything that alters security, policies or core settings will be locked down. In this case, you would need to run the script locally.
You can use ‘resolve-path’ or check the path manually to see if this is the issue with your command.
Missing modules in PowerShell
If the module is missing or damaged, PowerShell won’t be able to execute it. By default, you have to install modules in order to use them. If that module is missing, corrupt or has been moved, it can throw up the ‘the term is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet’ error.
You can use ‘get-module’ in PowerShell to see if the module is present and correct. It will show you what modules are loaded and you can add or repair depending on your needs.
Using PowerShell in Windows
There is nothing wrong with a newcomer using PowerShell as long as you’re careful. If you’re using it on a home computer, the worst that can happen is that you need a system restore or rebuild. If you’re working on company computers, you may need to be more careful.
There are some useful resources for getting to grips with PowerShell such as this page on the Microsoft Technet website. This page at Veeam is also useful for those very new to PowerShell. It explains what it is, how to use it and offers a lot of information for newcomers.
Don’t be intimidated by PowerShell if you’re new to it. Create a system restore point before you begin and have a play around. The very worst thing you can do it ruin that Windows installation but that is easy to remedy for a home user!