What is Windows Terminal and how does it work?

Windows Terminal is a terminal application that you can download from the Microsoft website. It isn’t built into the operating system and only works with Windows 10, but it includes some unique features not found in Microsoft’s other command-line tools.

You may already be familiar with Command Prompt and PowerShell, two command-line utilities that come with most versions of Windows. Windows Terminal is different for many reasons, but mainly because it’s a single program that gives developers quick access to these tools and more.

Windows terminal functions

Windows Terminal looks pretty basic at first glance, but there are a handful of features that set it apart from other Windows command-line tools:

  • full screen mode
  • Tabbed UI to open multiple instances of the tools
  • Hotkeys to quickly open new tabs
  • Zoom with the mouse
  • Support for Unicode and UTF-8 characters allows using emojis and non-English characters
  • GPU accelerated text rendering engine
  • Custom themes and styles can be created
  • pen holder
  • Support for Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), SSH, PowerShell, Command Prompt, and Azure Cloud Shell

  • Download and install Windows Terminal from Microsoft website.

  • Use the search bar at the bottom of Windows 10 to search and select terminal window.

  • PowerShell will open. You can enter commands as if you were opening Windows PowerShell directly.

  • To open another PowerShell tab, use the plus sign at the top of Windows Terminal. Or, to launch another tool, choose the down arrow and select cmd or Azure Cloud Shell.

  • Changing Windows terminal settings

    There are two files that contain Windows Terminal settings. The one you can change is called profile.jsonthe other, defaults.jsonsimply used as a reference if you need to see the default settings.

    To change Windows Terminal settings, use the down arrow at the top of the program and then select settings. The JSON file will open in whatever text editor your computer is configured with to use that file type; it’s Windows Notepad by default, but it can be another text editor (we used Microsoft’s free Visual Studio Code program, as you can see below).

    There are many settings you can edit in Windows Terminal such as: Such as changing background color, setting default working directory, hiding tabs, adjusting window opacity, setting font size, and dozens of others. Microsoft lists them all here, and there are examples here.

    To display the standard Windows terminal settings, press and hold Old when pressing settings in the menu.

    Tips on using Windows Terminal

    The default shell is Windows PowerShell. So when you open Windows Terminal, PowerShell is the utility you see first. It also means that the plus sign next to the tabs at the top of the Windows terminal will always open PowerShell, no matter what tool you’re using.

    There are keyboard shortcuts that you can use to quickly open a menu item. These are the default keyboard shortcuts to perform these actions:

    • Ctrl+Maj+1 for Windows PowerShell
    • Ctrl+Shift+2 opens the command prompt
    • Ctrl+Shift+3 opens the Azure Cloud Seashell
    • Ctrl+, open settings
    • Ctrl+Shift+F opens the search box

    Windows Terminal requires Windows 10 version 18362.0 or later. If you cannot install it, update Windows to the latest version.

      How to fix clock watchdog timeout error in Windows 10