How to use Windows Terminal

Windows Terminal is Microsoft’s most effective command-line interface for Windows, offering its versatility, customizability, support for multiple tabs and panes and multitab support – helping streamline work in various command-line environments. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything needed on how to use Windows terminal effectively!

What is Windows Terminal and Why Use It?

Windows Terminal is an advanced terminal app for Windows with many convenient features, combining various command line tools such as Command Prompt, PowerShell and WSL under one umbrella.

The key benefits of using Windows Terminal include:

Unified interface – Allows the use of different CLI tools in tabs/panes within one window. No need to switch between separate apps.

Customizable – Highly customizable in terms of visuals, keyboard shortcuts, and behaviours. Make Terminal suit your style.

Productive – Features like tabs, panes, and smooth font rendering help you get work done faster.

Modern – Fresh user interface with fluid animations, shadows, and more. Terminal feels at home on the latest Windows versions.

Open source – Windows Terminal is open source—benefits from continuous community contributions.

No matter if you are an IT pro, developer, power user or just starting out on the command line, Windows Terminal can boost efficiency and productivity for all.

How to Launch Windows Terminal

There are a few quick ways to open Windows Terminal on your Windows PC:

Start Menu – Open the Start Menu and search for “Windows Terminal”. Click to launch.

Run Command – Press Windows key + R (⊞ + R), type “wt” and press Enter.

File Explorer – Type “wt” in the File Explorer address bar and press Enter.

Context Menu – Right-click Start Menu or desktop, choose “Windows Terminal”.

Keyboard Shortcut – Use Win + X and select Windows Terminal.

Windows Terminal typically launches using its default profile – usually PowerShell – by default. Continue reading as we explore customizing this profile next.

Opening Tabs and Panes

Windows Terminal’s key feature is its ability to quickly open multiple tabs and panes at the same time, with ease. Here’s how:

New Tab

Click the ‘+’ icon in the tab bar to open a new tab with the default profile.

Click the profile name next to ‘+’ to select a different profile for the new tab.

SHIFT+Click to open a new window instead of a tab.

CTRL+Click to open a tab as administrator.

New Pane

ALT+Click the ‘+’ icon or profile name to split the area into vertical panes.

ALT+SHIFT+Click to create a horizontal split instead of vertical.

Press ALT+SHIFT+D to split the pane horizontally. Press ALT+SHIFT+A to split it vertically.

You can close tabs and panes easily too:

CTRL+W to close the active tab.

CTRL+SHIFT+W to close the active split pane.

Adding Profiles to Windows Terminal

Windows Terminal supports multiple command-line environments. Each environment you add creates an individual profile within the Terminal.

Some examples of profiles you can add:

  • PowerShell
  • Command Prompt
  • WSL Distros (Ubuntu, Kali, etc.)
  • Azure Cloud Shell
  • SSH

Profiles are automatically installed upon installing apps from the Microsoft Store; for instance, installing Ubuntu will result in Terminal receiving its own Ubuntu profile.

Manually adding profiles is possible by editing the settings.json file directly; please refer to our Customization section below for details.

Customizing Windows Terminal

One of Windows Terminal’s best features is extensive customizability. You can customize:

  • Default profile on launch
  • Overall theme and appearance
  • Individual profile settings
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Tab switcher
  • And more

Let’s go over the customization options:

Change Default Profile

Follow these steps to change the default profile that loads when launching a new Terminal window:

  1. Click the down arrow in the tab bar and choose Settings.
  2. Under the “Startup” section, choose your desired default profile.
  3. Click Save.

Next time, the Terminal will start with your selected default profile.

Modify Themes and Appearance

You can customize Windows Terminal’s look and feel:

Themes – Change the overall light or dark theme under Appearance > Theme settings.

Color Schemes – Change default text, background, and cursor colors under the Color Schemes tab.

Background Image – Set a custom background image for all or individual profiles.

Font – Change font family and size, and enable bold/italic/weights.

Acrylic Effect – Make the background translucent with an acrylic blur effect.

Customize Individual Profiles

To modify profile-specific settings like color scheme, font size, and background image:

  1. In Settings, choose the Profile section.
  2. Select the profile to customize under “All Profiles”.
  3. Change the background image, color scheme, and font settings as needed.
  4. Click Save to apply changes.

Edit Keyboard Shortcuts

You can edit keyboard shortcuts assigned for various actions:

  1. Under Settings, choose the Keybindings section.
  2. Find the shortcut you want to change.
  3. Click the edit icon next to the shortcut.
  4. Enter a new key combination and press Enter.
  5. Click Save.

You can now invoke the action using your custom keyboard shortcut.

Customize Tab Switcher

When you press CTRL+Tab, Windows Terminal displays open tabs to easily switch between them. You can customize the tab switcher display:

  1. Under Settings, choose the Interaction section.
  2. Change “Tab switcher mode” to:
    • Separate window (most recently used)
    • Separate window (in tab order)
    • None
  3. Click Save.

This customizes the CTRL+Tab tab-switching experience.

Useful Windows Terminal Command Line Options

Windows Terminal provides some useful command line options to control its behaviour when launching it:

-h – View help about available options.

-w – Launch a new window with a specific ID.

-M – Launch maximized window.

-F – Launch the fullscreen window.

–focus – Launch focused window.

You can also stack commands to tell Terminal what to do on launch:

New tab – Open a new tab.

split-pane – Split window into panes.

move-focus – Shift focus between panes.

swap-pane – Swap the active pane with another.

For example:

wt -M new-tab;"PowerShell" new-tab;"Command Prompt" 

This maximizes Terminal and opens a PowerShell tab, and a Command Prompt tab.

Make your workflow faster by using these handy command line options.

Making Windows Terminal the Default Terminal

You can easily make Windows Terminal the default terminal app in Windows 11:

  1. Open Windows Terminal settings.
  2. Under “Startup”, choose Windows Terminal as the Default terminal application.
  3. Click Save.

Now Windows Terminal will launch by default whenever you open a command-line tool.

Essential Windows Terminal Tips and Tricks

Here are some pro tips for using Windows Terminal more efficiently:

Press ALT+SHIFT+PLUS to open a new pane with the default profile.

Type “wt -d .” to open the Terminal in the current Folder location.

Use WIN+Scroll to adjust font size on the fly.

Enable Quake mode and use WIN+` to quickly toggle Terminal.

Customize color schemes to optimize profiles for different tasks.

Organize profiles into folders and access them from a dropdown menu.

Enable copy on select to copy text selections to the clipboard automatically.

Customize background opacity for readability when using background images.

Master these tips and tricks to boost your Terminal workflow.

Conclusion: how to use Windows Terminal

Windows Terminal is a modern and powerful application that allows you to use a variety of command-line utilities in one location. The user can personalize the interface by using themes, tabs panes, profiles and many more. It is also possible to run various terminals such as PowerShell, Command Prompt, Azure Cloud Shell, WSL as well and SSH. Windows Terminal is a great instrument for administrators, developers as well and those who wish to maximize the value of the command-line interface.

For the final part, this post provides you with how to use Windows Terminal to set up, modify and execute multiple command-line applications in one application. The information you have received will help you build as well as edit profile settings, alter preferences, utilize keyboard shortcuts and switch between multiple options. Additionally, you have seen illustrations that demonstrate how to use Windows Terminal to perform various tasks and situations. We hope that you’ve had a great time reading this tutorial for beginners and that you found it helpful. If you’d like to find out the basics of Windows Terminal, you can look up the official manual as well as the GitHub repository.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about Windows Terminal:

How do I open a new pane in Windows Terminal?

To open a new vertical or horizontal pane, press ALT+SHIFT while clicking the + button or profile name. You can also use keyboard shortcuts like ALT+SHIFT+D or ALT+SHIFT+A.

Can I use different color schemes for each profile?

Yes, you can customize color schemes at the profile level. Just choose the profile under Settings, go to Appearance and set a different color scheme.

How do I use my desktop wallpaper as the Terminal background?

Go to Profile > Appearance > Background image and check the “Use desktop wallpaper” option. Adjust opacity for readability.

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