Microsoft adds new cosmetic options to Windows Terminal

Windows Terminal windows laid over each other, each with different custom themes
(Image credit: Microsoft)

An update to Windows Terminal coming this week will deliver users the ability to create custom themes for the command-line interface (CLI).

Version 1.16 of Windows Terminal Preview will allow users with a little programming experience to customise the look of the CLI’s window with a variety of colours, backgrounds, and themes.

It replaces the minimal customisation options that have previously been included in Windows’ default CLI for years.

Customisation is only available through the modification of a JSON file, but this will be made accessible through the Terminal's user interface (UI) via the Appearance page in the settings dropdown menu.

The programming of the custom themes will be familiar to those with coding knowledge - it’s a case of adding properties to the ‘themes’ object and setting values for each, such as hex codes for specific colours.

Customisation options include separate designs for tabs, tab rows, and the window itself, each of which supports different properties with which users can experiment.

There are other minor cosmetic changes to the default colour scheme, too, and Microsoft has also changed Terminal to a dark theme by default.

In addition to the visual changes brought in version 1.16, Microsoft has made the previously experimental text rendering engine, introduced in version 1.13 and only enabled through a special command, the default for all Windows Terminal profiles.

“The new renderer is more performant and now supports additional pixel shaders (including the retro effect), bold text, and underline/overline/hyperlink lines,” said Kayla Cinnamon program manager 2, Windows Terminal, console, command line, and Cascadia Code, in a blog post.

“If your machine doesn’t have a GPU, or you’re remoting to a virtual machine that doesn’t have a GPU, it will fall back to a more performant mode that doesn’t require hardware support.”

Microsoft has been planning to make Windows Terminal the default terminal for its operating system since December 2021, it said at the time.

This was made official at the end of August when it was enabled as standard in the Windows 11 Insider preview build 25188.


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It replaced the Windows Console Host which has been the default terminal emulator since Windows began, Cinnamon said, tasked with bringing programs like Command Prompt and PowerShell to life.

“Over the course of 2022, we are planning to make Windows Terminal the default experience on Windows 11 devices,” she said.

“We will start with the Windows Insider programme and start moving through rings until we reach everyone on Windows 11. We would love to have your feedback while we are working on this to help iron out all of the bugs and ensure everyone has a great experience with Terminal.”

Connor Jones

Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.