I came across a situation where I discovered a user’s PSReadline ConsoleHost_history.txt file, and it ended up giving me the information I needed at the time. Most people are aware of the .bash_history file. But did you know that the PowerShell equivalent is enabled by default starting in PowerShell v5 on Windows 10? This means this file will become more present over time as systems upgrade.


The PSReadline module started as a stand-alone module, but became the default command line editing experience starting in PowerShell v3. A full list of the features are available on its GitHub page. It is responsible for, among other things, letting us hit up arrow to see previous commands from a PowerShell window. To do this, it records what is typed into the console. It can save this in memory, or to a file.

Starting in PowerShell v5 on Windows 10, the default option is to save history to a file. This setting gives the user the ability to start a new session with the history from the previous session.

History File Information

The default location for this file is $env:APPDATA\Microsoft\Windows\PowerShell\PSReadLine\ConsoleHost_history.txt. You can get the location by running Get-PSReadlineOption and looking at the options. There’s a few history related ones:

  • HistorySavePath - The file location
  • HistorySaveStyle - Options are SaveIncrementally, which saves after each command; SaveAtExit, which appends on exiting PowerShell, or SaveNothing, which turns off the history file.
  • MaximumHistoryCount - The max number of entries to record.

You can modify the options with the Set-PSReadlineOption commandlet.

What the History File Records

Everything I type into a PowerShell window. For example:

PS C:\> cd $env:APPDATA\Microsoft\Windows\PowerShell\PSReadLine\
PS C:\Users\sansforensics408\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\PowerShell\PSReadLine> ls

    Directory: C:\Users\sansforensics408\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\PowerShell\PSReadLine

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
-a----        11/8/2018   2:11 AM             62 ConsoleHost_history.txt

PS C:\Users\sansforensics408\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\PowerShell\PSReadLine> type .\ConsoleHost_history.txt
cd $env:APPDATA\Microsoft\Windows\PowerShell\PSReadLine\
type .\ConsoleHost_history.txt

What It Does Not Record

Terminal-less PowerShell sessions. So if I manage to get remote code execution on a host and have it run a Nishang Reverse Shell or Meterpreter, nothing done there is recorded in the file.


For the red-teamer, this is a really interesting way to get information about the commands the user has been running, and files they interact with, and maybe even passwords. For the forensic analyst, having a history of a subject’s actions can be invaluable, and having it in a file is gold. For a blue teamer, this could be useful if you are very lucky, but you’re much better off enabling script-block logging for PowerShell. Most of the things an attacker does in PowerShell, unless they get RDP access, are not going to be recorded. For HackTheBox, you may find some part of an intended path, or you may find some history from the box’s creator who didn’t think or know to clear history.