Format the output of a string in multiple columns with PowerShell

In my previous blog article, I used the PowerShell Format-Wide cmdlet to format the output of a string in multiple columns. While Format-Wide isn’t a command that I’ve used extensively, the behavior wasn’t what I expected.

When you pipe object-based output other than a string from any PowerShell command to Format-Wide, it produces the desired results.

Get-PSDrive | Format-Wide -Column 2

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I’ll pipe the following to Get-Member to confirm that it’s a string.

'one', 'two', 'three', 'four' | Get-Member

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When you use Format-Wide with a string, it doesn’t split the results into multiple columns.

'one', 'two', 'three', 'four' | Format-Wide -Column 2

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More testing and still not the results I expected.

'one', 'two', 'three', 'four' | Format-Wide -Column 2 -Force
'one', 'two', 'three', 'four' | Format-Wide -Property $_ -Column 2
'one', 'two', 'three', 'four' | Format-Wide -Property $_ -Column 2 -Force
'one', 'two', 'three', 'four' | Format-Wide -Property {$_} -Column 2

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To produce output with multiple columns from a string using Format-Wide, you need to specify the current object variable inside curly braces as the value for the Property parameter along with the Force parameter.

'one', 'two', 'three', 'four' | Format-Wide -Property {$_} -Column 2 -Force

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The following video demonstrates the commands used in this blog article.


Jeff Hicks published a follow-up blog article featuring a function to format the output of strings in multiple columns with PowerShell.

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