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Windows Terminal Preview

Microsoft released a preview of its new Windows Terminal facility this week. Now, you can download and install it from the Microsoft Store. This brand-new Windows Terminal Preview requires Windows 10 build 18362 or later. Read more: Windows Terminal Microsoft Store Preview Release

In fact, Windows Terminal is an open source project hosted on GitHub.

Here’s a quote from its README.md file’s Overview section:

The Windows Terminal is a new, modern, fast, efficient, powerful, and productive terminal application for users of command-line tools and shells like Command Prompt, PowerShell, and WSL. Its main features include multiple tabs, Unicode and UTF-8 character support, a GPU accelerated text rendering engine, and custom themes, styles, and configurations.

I am impressed! I installed Windows Terminal two days ago, and it has already completely replaced PowerShell and Command Prompt windows for me. I also use WSL (the Windows Subsystem for Linux) in it. Tabs make Windows Terminal quite useful, because you can keep several PowerShell, Command Prompt and WSL tabs open at the same time, with each tab working independently. The following screenshot shows my Windows Terminal with PS, Command Prompt and WSL tabs open, upgrading the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS distro in WSL:

All Windows Terminal settings are stored in a single JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) file named profiles.json. By default, Windows 10 has no application associated with the .json file extension. Thus, you will need to install a program that can open such files (I use Code Writer), or open it manually in Notepad or any other text / code editor. The profiles.json file resides in the following folder:


The default profiles.json file is simply too long to be posted here (352 lines), but you can study it from my OneDrive. Let’s see some of the settings and controls you can edit in that file.

First, not only can you edit keyboard shortcuts, but you can also create your own. For instance, the default profiles.json contains this module to set up a keyboard shortcut to open Windows Terminal settings:

Each terminal application has its own profile, and by default there are profiles for PowerShell and Command Prompt. Here’s the default PowerShell profile:

The default PS profile uses a color scheme Campbell, one of many default schemes. You can edit it as you wish:

Although the settings file is quite logical and easy to understand, I suggest you make a backup before starting to experiment with various settings. That way you can restore the former status quo, should anything go sideways.

Windows Terminal is still a preview version, but already quite impressive, as I mentioned earlier. I recommended that you at least give it a look-see. Please, download it from the Microsoft Store today!


Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.

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