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Managing multiple versions of Terraform with Chocolatey

Managing multiple versions of Terraform with Chocolatey

Let’s install multiple versions of Terraform using the Side by Side installation feature of Chocolatey.

$ choco install terraform --version 0.12.5 -my
$ choco install terraform --version 0.11.14 -my
$ choco install terraform --version 0.11.9 -my

If you look in the following directory, C:\ProgramData\chocolatey\lib, you will see a folder for each version of Terraform installed. However, when you run the following command.

$ terraform --version
Terraform v0.11.9

That should reflect the last version that we installed. Chocolatey uses this tool called ShimGen to generate a “symlink” to the version installed. We could leverage that tool to allow switching between multiple versions. However, it requires Administrator privileges to work. We are going to use a PowerShell alias for Terraform so when we enter a directory with a .terraform-version file, and we will read the version number in that file an set the alias to that location. That filename follows the convention of the tfenv project so you can be cross-platform with this workflow.

Let’s create a directory to host our .terraform-version file.

$ mkdir tftesting
$ cd .\tftesting\
$ New-Item -Name .terraform-version -ItemType file

Now we can open it and add the following.


Great, we have the version we want to use defined. Now we need to open our PowerShell profile since that is what I am using. We are going to add a function that checks for the .terraform-version file, if it exists, it will set an alias called tf to point to the correct version.

To find your PowerShell profile, you can use the $PROFILE variable.


Open that file, if it doesn’t exist, then create it with the following command.

if (!(Test-Path -Path $PROFILE)) {
  New-Item -ItemType File -Path $PROFILE -Force

With your profile now opened, let’s create our function.

# This is inspired heavily by Set-PsEnv:

$tfenvfile = ".terraform-version"

function Set-TfEnv {
    [CmdletBinding(SupportsShouldProcess = $true, ConfirmImpact = 'Low')]

    #return if no env file
    if (!( Test-Path $tfenvfile)) {
        Write-Verbose "No .terraform-version file"
        Remove-Alias -Name tf

    $terraformVersion = @(Select-String .\.terraform-version -Pattern '([0-9]).([0-9])([0-9]).([0-9])([0-9])').Matches[0].Value
    Write-Verbose "Parsed .terraform-version file"
    Set-Alias -Name tf -Value "C:\ProgramData\chocolatey\lib\terraform.$($terraformVersion)\tools\terraform.exe" -Scope Global

We now have our function defined, that looks for that file; if it exists, it creates an alias to the specified version. Now let’s wire this up to execute when we change into a directory.

In our profile, add the following right after our new function.

function prompt {

Now open a new PowerShell window, navigate to our directory and when we type the tf –version command we should see the output of the version as defined in .terraform-version.

$ cd ./tftesting
$ tf --version
Terraform v0.11.14

Your version of Terraform is out of date! The latest version
is 0.12.6. You can update by downloading from

I am going to work on making this a proper PowerShell module and put it in the PowerShell gallery. I hope you find this helpful and I will post when I get it published.

Thanks for reading,


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