Powershell GUI

Kelly Garcia
Kelly Garcia used Ask the Experts™
HI All,

I need to produce GUI's for our helpdesk, what is the best way of doing this. The GUI will grab information, example -  mailbox sizes greater than 5 gb and then the GUI will have a button to migrate the mailbox.  

thank you in advance,
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Chris DentPowerShell Developer
Top Expert 2010

This is a complex topic I'm afraid. To be honest, every time I've done this I've ended up shifting to C#. PowerShell is not the best language for creating user interfaces.

You might consider using ShowUI, it significantly simplifies the job of building the GUI:


If you do, you will also have to distribute the ShowUI to helpdesk staff.
Shaun VermaakTechnical Specialist
Awarded 2017
Distinguished Expert 2018

Fairly straight forward. You can also use Visual Studio to design GUI and just use it in Powershell with a couple of tweaks

function Load-Form {

Function ButtonWasClicked{


# Form
$Form = New-Object System.Windows.Forms.Form    
$Form.Size = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(900,450)  
$Form.MinimumSize = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(900,450)
$Form.MaximumSize = New-Object System.Drawing.Size(900,450)
$Form.SizeGripStyle = "Hide"
$Form.Icon = [System.Drawing.Icon]::ExtractAssociatedIcon($PSHome + "\powershell.exe")
$Form.Text = "Title"
$Form.ControlBox = $true
$Form.TopMost = $true

#Draw buttons 
$Button1 = new-object System.Windows.Forms.Button
$Button1.Location = new-object System.Drawing.Size(60,370)
$Button1.Size = new-object System.Drawing.Size(90,25)
$Button1.Text = "Click here..."
$Button1.Visible = $True
$Button1.Enabled = $False
$Label = New-Object System.Windows.Forms.Label
$Label.Text = ""
$Label.AutoSize = $True
$Label.Location = new-object System.Drawing.Size(160,375)

# Load form

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Top Expert 2014

Sapien makes a good GUI IDE for Powershell scripts.
Chris DentPowerShell Developer
Top Expert 2010

I thought Sapien discontinued primal forms? Certainly not kicking around much any more.

I think I should clarify this statement:

> This is a complex topic I'm afraid.

Designing the initial front end with a few buttons is easy. Wiring up the back end, so you can execute things, get information back, properly handle errors and exceptions, present information, act on it, all of this takes a lot of time. This is especially true when you're dealing with longer running tasks that must trigger a change in a UI-thread when they're done (without completely locking up the GUI for the duration).

I will hold fast to my opinion that PowerShell is not a good language for developing GUIs. You can... but outside of very, very simple utilities it becomes quite a drag.

ShowUI goes a long way to mitigating this lack by providing a background jobs interface, my last project couldn't use that because it auto-builds itself on first import and every import was a first in the environment in question.
Top Expert 2014


still lists GUI Designer as a prominent feature.
Shaun VermaakTechnical Specialist
Awarded 2017
Distinguished Expert 2018

I won't pay $389 for something I can do in Community VS/Notepad++ though
Bill PrewIT / Software Engineering Consultant
Top Expert 2016

A decent example of a Powershell UI via forms in this solution to a prior problem, hope it's helpful.


Chris DentPowerShell Developer
Top Expert 2010

PrimalForms was free way back when. It was all Forms though. Being able to "draw" most of the GUI in a XAML document is quite an advantage (over dynamically generating every single control) with WPF.

As Shaun says, VS community is free and it has a forms designer. It could be used to build up the main GUI part.

Beyond that I think you should break this problem down. If you must have a GUI, what should the minimum viable product include?

If you take this part as an example:

> The GUI will grab information, example -  mailbox sizes greater than 5 gb

This means you need to execute some PowerShell, and you need to display the results.

How should that be displayed? In a list?

> The GUI will have a button to migrate the mailbox

This control will have to be dynamically generated.

Where will the button appear? How will it be generated? What, exactly, will it do?
Kelly GarciaSenior Systems Administrator


I am using wpf to build the gui, what are your thoughts? is there a better way??
PowerShell Developer
Top Expert 2010
WPF is about as good as it gets in my opinion.

I do recommend you define as much as you can in XAML, load it and wire up everything else in PowerShell, but at least it saves you writing all of the controls in code.

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