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Playing with the New Windows Terminal

Playing with the New Windows Terminal


The new Windows Terminal was just released in Preview capacity. You'll need the latest Windows May Update to download it.

I was excited to hear about the new Windows Terminal as it brings a big improvement over the default cmd and Powershell experiences.

  • Zooming
  • Tabs
  • GPU powered
  • Emoji support

Current Setup: Hyper and WSL

I was excited to try this new Terminal out as a great new built-in tool. Currently I'm using Hyper as my terminal. I'm also using the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) v1 and Ubuntu as my shell.

Current Setup Bottlenecks

With this setup, I can have a Linux setup on my Windows. While this setup is great, there have been some times where I notice performance isn't as fast as it would be on a Linux or Mac. I'm looking forward to Windows Subsystem for Linux v2 which promises to greatly improve performance.

Another bottleneck is that Hyper is built on web technologies HTML/CSS/JS so it's not exactly a native application. Graphical performance may be a little slower.

The new Windows Terminal comes with all the modern bells and whistles along with the performance of a native app.

Installation and Tour

The new Windows Terminal can be installed from the Windows Store:

Once installed, just go into your Start menu and open it up!

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Tabs and Creating New Shells

We are able to create tabs!

We are able to click on the dropdown and create new shells from the list:

Important Settings

Let's experiment with configuring this a little bit. If we open up settings, we can see that everything is currently configured in a profiles.json file.

We can configure things like:

  • Default size
  • Hiding/showing the tab bar
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Profiles (cmd, Powershell, Ubuntu/wsl)
  • Color schemes

I recommend looking through this to see exactly what you can change:

The only settings I changed for each profile was to give each some padding. I changed the following:

# from
"padding": "0, 0, 0, 0",

# to
"padding": "20, 10, 20, 20",

I also changed out the font from Consolas to my current favorite Operator Mono. I've also changed fontSize to be 22.

Finally I changed out the color scheme.

Color Schemes

If we look towards the bottom of profiles.json, we can see that there are a few color schemes:

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

We can update the color scheme for each of the profiles by adjusting the setting. I've set all mine to be One Half Dark:

"colorScheme": "One Half Dark",

Here's how my Ubuntu looks now:

Drawbacks So Far and Conclusion

While Windows Terminal is a definite upgrade over the default cmd and Powershell, there are a few things I miss from using Hyper and iTerm over on Mac.

  • No pasting with ctrl + v. Only right click and only in Ubuntu/wsl
  • No copying
  • No ability to click links
  • No split screen (vertical/horizontal) like in Hyper or iTerm

While these aren't major drawbacks, I think I will be sticking with Hyper as my terminal for now.

Really looking forward to the changes that they bring in the next updates and kudos to Microsoft for taking a look at the developer tools on Windows and improving them.

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