Signing and Execution Policies



Describes the Windows PowerShell execution policies, and how to use and change them.




PowerShell execution policies provide security for the scripting environment by determining the conditions under which PowerShell loads configuration files and runs scripts.


"Restricted," the most secure policy, is the default. It permits individual commands, but does not permit scripts to run.


When an execution policy prevents PowerShell from loading a file or running a script, a warning appears explaining the restriction.


"Error loading the extended type data file:"

      "There were errors in loading the format data file:"


To load the file or permit scripts to run, change the execution policy.



You can change the PowerShell execution policy on your computer. The change is effective immediately and is retained until you change it again. Only Administrators are permitted to change the policy.


To change your execution policy, type:


Set-ExecutionPolicy <policy-name>


For example,


Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned


If the command is successful, PowerShell displays the command prompt. There is no success message. If the command fails, PowerShell displays an error message, and reverts to the previous execution policy.


To see the PowerShell execution policy, type:




If the command is not successful, you might have misspelled the policy name. Check the name and try again. If you do not have permission to run this command, see your system administrator.




The PowerShell execution policies are:



·         Default execution policy.

·         Permits individual commands, but scripts cannot run.



·         Scripts can run.

·         Requires a digital signature from a trusted publisher on all scripts and configuration files, including scripts that you write on the local computer.

o        Prompts you before running scripts from trusted publishers.

·         Risks running signed, but malicious, scripts.



·         Scripts can run.

·         Requires a digital signature from a trusted publisher on scripts and configuration files that are downloaded from the Internet (including e-mail and instant messaging programs).

·         Does not require digital signatures on scripts run from the  local computer.

o        Does not prompt you before running scripts from trusted publishers.

·         Risks running signed, but malicious, scripts.



·         Unsigned scripts can run.

·         Scripts and configuration files that are downloaded from the Internet (including Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows Messenger) run after warning you that the file originated from the Internet. 

·         Risks running malicious scripts.



If your PowerShell execution policy is RemoteSigned, PowerShell will not run unsigned scripts that are downloaded from the Internet  (including e-mail and instant messaging programs).


If you try to run a downloaded script, PowerShell displays the following error message:


The file C:\remote.ps1 cannot be loaded. The file C:\remote.ps1 is not digitally signed. The script will not execute on the system. Please see "Get-Help about_signing" for more details.


Before running the script, review the code to be sure that you trust it. Scripts have the same effect as any executable program.


To run an unsigned script:


1.       Save the script file on your computer.

2.       Click Start, click My Computer, and navigate to the saved script file.

3.       Right-click the script file, and then click "Properties."

4.       Click "Unblock."


If a script that was downloaded from the Internet is digitally signed, but you have not yet chosen to trust its publisher, PowerShell displays the following message:


Do you want to run software from this untrusted publisher?

The file C:\remote_file.ps1 is published by CN=<publisher-name>. This

publisher is not trusted on your system. Only run scripts from trusted publishers.


[V] Never run  [D] Do not run  [R] Run once  [A] Always run 

[?] Help (default is "D"):


If you trust the publisher, select "Run once" or "Always run."

If you do not trust the publisher, select either "Never run" or

"Do not run." If you select "Never run" or "Always run," PowerShell will not prompt you again for this publisher.



You can sign the scripts that you write and sign scripts from other sources. Before signing any script, examine each command and verify that it is safe to run.


For further details about how to sign a script file, at the PowerShell command line, type:


Get-Help Set-AuthenticodeSignature


To add a digital signature to a script, you must sign it with a code signing certificate. Two types of certificates are suitable for signing a script file:


·         Certificates created by a certificate authority:


For a fee, a public certificate authority verifies your identity and gives you a code signing certificate.  When you purchase your certificate from reputable certificate authority, you will be able to share your script with users on other computers running Windows, because those other computers trust the certificate authority.


·         Certificates that you create:


You can create a "self-signed certificate" for which your computer is the authority that creates the certificate. This certificate is free of charge and enables you to write, sign, and run scripts on your computer, but other computers do not trust your computer and might not run the script.


If you create a self-signed certificate, be sure to enable strong private key protection on your certificate. This prevents malicious programs from signing scripts on your behalf. The instructions are included at the end of this topic.



To create a self-signed certificate, use MakeCert.exe, a tool included in the Microsoft .NET Framework SDK (Versions 1.1 and later) and the Microsoft Platform SDK.


To use MakeCert to create a certificate:


In an SDK Command Prompt window, run the following commands.


The first command creates a local certificate authority for your computer. The second command generates a personal certificate from the certificate authority:


makecert -n "CN=PowerShell Local Certificate Root" -a sha1 `

-eku -r -sv root.pvk root.cer `

-ss Root -sr localMachine


makecert -pe -n "CN=PowerShell User" -ss MY -a sha1 `

-eku -iv root.pvk -ic root.cer


MakeCert will prompt you for a private key password.


To verify that the certificate was generated correctly:


At the PowerShell prompt, type:


get-childitem cert:\CurrentUser\My -codesigning


This command uses the PowerShell certificate provider to view information about the certificate.


If the certificate was created, the output shows the thumbprint of the certificate, which contains authentication data for the PowerShell user, in a display like the following one:


Directory: Microsoft.PowerShell.Security\Certificate::CurrentUser\My




4D4917CB140714BA5B81B96E0B18AAF2C4564FDF  CN=PowerShell User ]



After you have a self-signed certificate, you can sign scripts. If you use the AllSigned execution policy, signing a script permits you to run the script on your computer.


The following sample script, sign-file.ps1, signs a script. However, if you are using the AllSigned execution policy, you must sign sign-file.ps1 before you run it.


To use this script, copy the following text into a text file and name it sign-file.ps1.


(Be sure that the script file does not have a .txt file name extension. If your text editor is appending .txt, enclose the file name in quotation marks, e.g. "sign-file.ps1".)


## sign-file.ps1

## Sign a file

param([string] $file=$(throw "Please specify a filename."))

$cert = @(Get-ChildItem cert:\CurrentUser\My -codesigning)[0]

Set-AuthenticodeSignature $file $cert


To sign sign-file.ps1, type the following commands at the PowerShell prompt:


$cert = @(Get-ChildItem cert:\CurrentUser\My -codesigning)[0]


Set-AuthenticodeSignature sign-file.ps1 $cert


After the script is signed, you can run it on the local computer. However, the script will not run on computers on which the PowerShell execution policy requires a digital signature from a trusted authority. If you try, PowerShell reports the following error:


The file C:\remote_file.ps1 cannot be loaded. The signature of the

certificate can not be verified.

At line:1 char:15

+ .\ remote_file.ps1 <<<<


If PowerShell displays this message when you run a script that you did not write, treat the file as though you would treat any unsigned script. Review the code and if you trust it, you can sign it and run it.



If you have a private certificate on your computer, malicious programs might be able to sign scripts on your behalf, which authorizes PowerShell to run them.


To prevent automated signing on your behalf, use the Certificate Manager Tool (Certmgr.exe) to export your signing certificate to a .pfx file. Certificate Manager is included in the The Microsoft .NET Framework SDK, the Microsoft Platform SDK, and Internet Explorer 5.0 and later.


To export the certificate:


1.       Start Certificate Manager (it is a GUI tool).

2.       Select the certificate issued by the "PowerShell Local Certificate Root."

3.       Click "Export" to start the Certificate Export Wizard.

4.       Select "Yes, export the private key" and then click "Next."

5.       Select "Enable strong protection."

6.       Type a password and then type it again to confirm.

7.       Type a filename with a .pfx file name extension.

8.       Click "Finish."


To re-import the certificate:


1.       Start Certificate Manager (it is a GUI tool).

2.       Click "Import" to start the Certificate Import Wizard.

3.       Browse to the location of the .pfx file that you created during the export process.

4.       On the "Password" page, select "Enable strong private key protection" and then enter the password that you assigned during the export process.

5.       Select the "Personal" certificate store.

6.       Click "Finish."




For information about code signing, search the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) reference at for "Introduction to Code Signing."


For information about the Set-AuthenticodeSignature command, enter the following at the PowerShell command prompt:


help Set-AuthenticodeSignature