Using PowerShell to manage SharePoint Online

Anybody who knows me or has ever read a single post of mine knows I’m a big PowerShell geek. I like it, I love it and I always want some more of it. Bad song lyrics aside, I quite literally use PowerShell every day for one task or another. Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been quietly working on creating some Cmdlets/Functions that will allow me to run PowerShell against Office 365 SharePoint Online. This might sound easy – but spoiler alert – it’s not. That’s not to say it’s difficult, if you’re a developer who is comfortable with CSOM, you’ll be just fine. However, I didn’t have those skills when I took off on this adventure; so needless to say it’s been a bit of a learning experience, combined with a lot of trial & error.

There are really a few key steps which must be taken prior to getting SharePoint Online and PowerShell to talk to one another.

  1. Set up the SharePoint Online Management Shell Windows PowerShell environment
  2. Run Connect-SPOService to connect to a SharePoint Online Administration Center

Once you’ve completed those two simple tasks, you’ve got the baseline environmental requirements in place to start using PowerShell with SharePoint Online. However, if I was writing a blogpost to tell you how to run the 30 built-in cmdlets you get by loading the Microsoft.Online.SharePoint.PowerShell module; well, you’d be left wanting more.

To really start doing the fun developer stuff, you will want to make sure you load the Microsoft.SharePoint.Client and Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Runtime assemblies into your session. I’ve written a nice little function for this, which looks like:

function Add-SPOAssemblies {
[System.Reflection.Assembly]::LoadWithPartialName("Microsoft.SharePoint.Client") | Out-Null
[System.Reflection.Assembly]::LoadWithPartialName("Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Runtime") | Out-Null

Then, to run it – just use:


Pretty simple, and it just loads those two assemblies so you can access all the goodies that come with them.

Once you’ve gotten there, you can start to do things like create ClientContext against an SPWeb:

$webUrl = "SPOWebUrl"
$ctx = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.ClientContext($webUrl)
$creds = Get-Credential -Message "Please enter your Office 365 Administrative credentials"
$ctx.Credentials = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.SharePointOnlineCredentials($creds.UserName,$creds.Password)
$spoweb = $ctx.Web

So that’s cool, but it hasn’t done anything yet! Well try this:


Ohhhh… So now that’s cool! Once you’ve gotten this far, i’m sure you can start to see the possibilities.

In case you want to wrap that up into a nice function, here’s a simple example that I think works well:

function New-SPOServiceContext {
try {
catch {
Write-Error "Unable to load Microsoft.SharePoint.Client assemblies"
$ctx = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.ClientContext($SPOWebUrl)
$creds = Get-Credential -Message "Please enter your Office 365 Administrative credentials" -UserName $EmailAddress
$ctx.Credentials = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.SharePointOnlineCredentials($creds.UserName,$creds.Password)
$spoweb = $ctx.Web

And of course to run it, use:

New-SPOServiceContext -EmailAddress -SPOWebUrl

“But wait, at the beginning you said this was challenging – this was way too easy!?”

Well, I wasn’t used to having to create a context object, then a credential object, followed by a web variable, and then I have to load and execute a query?! All new to me, but again – I haven’t done very much (read: any) development on the client side.

I could share loads of other cool things I’ve done, but you’ll have to wait while I clean up and finish some of the functions I’ve been working on. Until then, happy PowerShelling!


One thought on “Using PowerShell to manage SharePoint Online

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s