Install and get started setting up Windows Terminal

Install

To try the latest preview features, you may also want to install Windows Terminal Preview.

Note

If you don't have access to the Microsoft Store, the builds are published on the GitHub releases page. If you install from GitHub, Windows Terminal will not automatically update with new versions. For additional installation options using a package manager (winget, chocolatey, scoop), see the Windows Terminal product repo.

Set your default terminal application (Preview)

To open any command line application with Windows Terminal, set it as your default terminal application.

  1. Open Windows Terminal and go to the Settings UI window.
  2. Select Startup and choose "Windows Terminal" as the Default terminal application setting.

Screenshot of Windows Terminal Startup default in Settings UI

Important

This feature is only available in Windows Terminal Preview.

Set your default terminal profile

After installation, when you open Windows Terminal, it will start with the PowerShell command line as the default profile in the open tab.

To change the default profile:

  1. Open Windows Terminal and go to the Settings UI window.
  2. Select Startup and choose the Default profile that you prefer.

You can also set your default profile in the Settings.json file associated with Windows Terminal if you prefer.

Screenshot of Windows Terminal Settings default profile

Add new profiles

Windows Terminal will automatically create profiles for you if you have WSL distributions or multiple versions of PowerShell installed.

Your command line profiles will be listed in the Settings UI, in addition to the option to + Add new profiles.

Learn more about dynamic profiles on the Dynamic profiles page.

Screenshot of Windows Terminal Settings list of profiles

Open a new tab

You can open a new tab of the default profile by pressing Ctrl+Shift+T or by selecting the + (plus) button. To open a different profile, select the ˅ (arrow) next to the + button to open the dropdown menu. From there, you can select which profile to open.

Invoke the command palette

You can invoke most features of Windows Terminal through the command palette. The default key combination to invoke it is Ctrl+Shift+P. You can also open it using the Command palette button in the dropdown menu in Windows Terminal Preview.

Example of the command palette in use

Open a new pane

You can run multiple shells side-by-side using panes. To open a pane, you can use Alt+Shift++ for a vertical pane or Alt+Shift+- for a horizontal one. You can also use Alt+Shift+D to open a duplicate pane of your focused profile. Learn more about panes on the Panes page.

Configuration

To customize the settings of your Windows Terminal, select Settings in the dropdown menu. This will open the settings UI to configure your settings. You can learn how to open the settings UI with keyboard shortcuts on the Actions page.

Settings JSON file

If you prefer to configure your Windows Terminal settings using code, rather than the graphic user interface, you can edit the settings.json file.

Select Settings in the Windows Terminal dropdown menu while holding Shift to open the settings.json file in your default text editor. (The default text editor is defined in your Windows settings.)

The path for your Windows Terminal settings.json file may be found in one of the following directories:

  • Terminal (stable / general release): %LOCALAPPDATA%\Packages\Microsoft.WindowsTerminal_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalState\settings.json
  • Terminal (preview release): %LOCALAPPDATA%\Packages\Microsoft.WindowsTerminalPreview_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalState\settings.json
  • Terminal (unpackaged: Scoop, Chocolately, etc): %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows Terminal\settings.json

Tip

  1. You can access the default settings for Windows Terminal by selecting Settings in the dropdown menu while holding Alt to open the defaults.json file in your default text editor. This file is auto-generated and any changes to it will be ignored.
  2. It is possible to create a JSON fragment extension in order to store profile data and color schemes in a separate file, which can be useful to prevent excessively large configuration files.

Command line arguments

You can launch the terminal in a specific configuration using command line arguments. These arguments let you open the terminal with specific tabs and panes with custom profile settings. Learn more about command line arguments on the Command line arguments page.

Troubleshooting

If you encounter any difficulties using the terminal, reference the Troubleshooting page. If you find any bugs or have a feature request, you can select the feedback link in the About menu of the terminal to go to the GitHub page where you can file a new issue.