Boe Prox blogged/tweeted recently about how you can start a stopwatch in PowerShell with one line using the command [System.Diagnostics.Stopwatch]::StartNew(). While there are plenty of other ways to measure time in PowerShell (e.g measure-object, new-timespan), I could see an adhoc stopwatch being useful on occasion. However the raw class name is a bit clunky and forgettable. Therefore as a bit of fun I have created it as a series of functions in my PowerShell Profile.ps1 with friendly names I could call when needed.

-- The irony of the fact that I've turned his one-liner in to approx. 30 lines of code is not lost on me btw.


  • In case you're not aware, the PowerShell profile is a place to store functions or commands that you want executed or available automatically each time you start PowerShell. There are actually several different kinds of Profile.
  • Another example of something I put in my PowerShell Profile is set-location (essentially a "cd") to my Scripts directory, as its where I tend to want to start as my working directory.

Stopwatch functions

In my profile.ps1 I've created the following functions:

function start-stopwatch {  
    $script:StopWatch = [System.Diagnostics.Stopwatch]::StartNew()
    write-output "Stopwatch started at $(get-date). Use stop-stopwatch or esw to stop."
}

This starts the stopwatch running and writes to the console a message with the date it started. Note the use of $script scope for my Stopwatch variable, to make it accessible to the other functions. There may be a better/more responsible way to do this.

Now it's off and running, we obviously need a way to stop it:

function stop-stopwatch {  
    $script:StopWatch.Stop()
    write-output "Stopwatch stopped at $(get-date). Elapsed time is $($script:StopWatch.elapsed.tostring())"
    write-output $script:Stopwatch.Elapsed
}

This function allows us to continue the stopwatch without resetting its current time value:

function continue-stopwatch {  
    $script:StopWatch.Start()
    write-output "Stopwatch continuing from $($script:StopWatch.elapsed.tostring())"
}

And this function allows you to get the current value from the stopwatch without interrupting it:

function get-stopwatch {  
    If ($script:Stopwatch.IsRunning) {$state = "running"}Else{$state = "stopped"}
    write-output "Stopwatch is currently $state. Elapsed time is $($script:StopWatch.elapsed.tostring())"
    write-output $script:Stopwatch.Elapsed
}

Although these function names are easier to remember/recall, I still found myself wanting to be able to control it more quickly. As such the last part of my PowerShell Profile creates some short aliases for these new functions:

new-alias ssw start-stopwatch  
new-alias esw stop-stopwatch  
new-alias csw continue-stopwatch  
new-alias gsw get-stopwatch  

As an aside I used get-alias to check that these 3 letter aliases were not in use for anything else, which they don't seem to be currently but beware they could be in the future.

Here's what the output looks like: