Windows Terminal Preview Hands-On (Change Color Theme)

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Microsoft showed a sneak peek of the new Terminal app at their annual Build conference in May. Now you may finally download and try it out this new Windows Terminal (preview) on your Windows 10. But first, Make sure your Windows 10 is up to date by going to either Settings > Updates & Security > Windows Update or Update Assistant and download the latest Windows 10 update. As of this writing, the latest publicly available stable build is Windows 10 May 2019 update, version 1903 OS build 18362.175, which will be sufficient to the new Windows Terminal (Preview).

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As a developer, Window’s command line prompt has always been the weak spot comparing to other OS. Microsoft did try to beef up many years ago by introducing and giving more power to PowerShell, but as Windows 10 introduced WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) and the ability to run Linux toolchains, the lack of decent command line interface hinders wider developer adoption.

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Microsoft knows that and is responding to feedback from its beloved development community. In an effort for Windows to gain more developer back or keep them within Windows eco-system, Microsoft open-sourced its latest Terminal app. You can find the entire source over on https://github.com/microsoft/terminal.

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Terminal preview version

This is a new era, where Microsoft is embracing open source and embracing in developer engagement. It is those small details and fundamental change in mentality that are earning people’s attention and respect.

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default PowerShell in new Terminal app

As of this writing, the Terminal is in Preview as you can quickly notice issues the moment you try to use the app to move around and open new tabs. You will notice the extra space right next to the tab not responding to any mouse input. Rather in order to move the Window, the area is limited between the plus/dropdown icon and minimize icon.

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cmd with Solarized Light color theme

Out of the box, you might notice nothing more than another shell of cmd or PowerShell. And yes, that might appears to be the case for now but you already can do more and have more customization controls over the previous cmd.exe. For instance, the setting for Windows Terminal is a JSON file. You can open it with any text editor. Full JSON below, as of Terminal (preview) version 0.2.17.15. There are 5 built-in color profiles you can choose from:

  • Campbell
  • One Half Dark
  • One Half Light
  • Solarized Light
  • Solarized Dark

The default color theme for cmd and powershell are Campbell, and in the screenshot above I’ve changed that to Solarized Light.

"profiles":[
...
"colorScheme" : "Campbell",
...
 "colorScheme" : "Solarized Light",
] 

Because JSON is extremely flexible as a configuration format, you can easily share and find other themes to adapt to your need. As more developer uses this there will be more themes available to download from either Microsoft or the community. Give it a try if you are interested in checking out their latest command line interface.

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