How to Touch files in Powershell

When working in a terminal a lot we learn several built in commands that we start to lean on those commands and tools in our everyday life.

In Powershell there is not a simple way to create a file quickly. Sure we can do something like the following, but this is a long way to write something so simple.

Set-Content test.txt ""

Powershell has a Set-Content function to create files or change the content of a file, but when creating a file quickly that is a lot of characters to type. Let’s shorten that with a simple Powershell function we can use in a script or our profile.

function touch
    $file = $args[0]

    if($file -eq $null) 
        Write-Host "No filename supplied"
        Write-Host ""
        Write-Host "Usage: touch file.txt"
        Write-Host "Will create file if it does not exist, and update the last modified time if it does."
        Write-Host "Similar to the unix command"

    if(Test-Path $file)
        (Get-ChildItem $file).LastWriteTime = Get-Date
        # UTF-16 LE
        # echo $null > $file

        # UTF-8 With BOM
        # $null | Out-File $file -Encoding "UTF8"
        # UTF-8 W/O BOM
        [IO.File]::WriteAllLines("$pwd\$file", "")

So we can now just call this function to create a blank file much more quickly and efficiently. We just need to call touch file.txt.

touch filename.txt

There no output of the touch command if it completes successfully, as this is the standard outcome. This allows you to create a scaffolding of files quickly.

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