Joseph Gan
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Joseph Gan's Blog

Enhance your developer experience with Windows Terminal and PowerShell

Enhance your developer experience with Windows Terminal and PowerShell

Joseph Gan's photo
Joseph Gan
·Mar 27, 2022·

8 min read

Table of contents

Update 26 Nov 22: With regards to oh-my-posh installation section, please refer to the new blogpost on the current preferred installation method

Introduction

Traditionally, for Windows users, Command Prompt is the default terminal and unlike Linux users, Windows Command Prompt provides pretty basic functionality and features.

PowerShell

PowerShell was first released in 2006 and provides a much more modern terminal experience compared to Command Prompt. However, since it's not the default terminal on Windows, it is usually used by more advanced users.

if you are using PowerShell, do upgrade and use PowerShell v7 instead

Windows Terminal

Microsoft released Windows Terminal in 2019, a multi-tabbed terminal that can run any command-line terminal on it. Microsoft also finally replaced the traditional Command Prompt with Windows Terminal as the default terminal in Windows 11.

If you have not heard of Windows Terminal, now you have, and you should use that as your default terminal.

Usage

I have been using Windows Terminal as my default terminal on Windows 10 for a long time now, and I am in awe of it because of features such as profiles, themes, multi-tabbed, and so on. However, I feel that the real benefit comes along when you use it together with PowerShell v7 (plus modules) which I will elaborate on later.

This is how your terminal will look like if you follow the entire guide

wt-ps-demo.gif

These are achieved by using oh-my-posh, terminal-icons, PSReadLine and nerd fonts

You can change the font, themes to your liking at any time

Setup

Without further ado, let's dive into the setup now and soon you will have a awesome looking terminal like mine!

Windows Terminal

Windows Terminal can be installed via Windows Store, Github, or Windows Package Manager (winget). I will be using winget as that is the easiest way to do so

Launch command prompt and run

winget search "windows terminal"

Which will yield the following

C:\Users\Joseph>winget search "windows terminal"

Name                     Id                                Version      Source
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Windows Terminal         9N0DX20HK701                      Unknown      msstore
Windows Terminal         Microsoft.WindowsTerminal         1.12.10393.0 winget
Windows Terminal Preview Microsoft.WindowsTerminal.Preview 1.13.10395.0 winget

You can choose to install either the stable or preview version. I have been using preview version without issue. If you do face any issue, you can still install the stable version later as the two version can co-exist

winget install --id Microsoft.WindowsTerminal.Preview

PowerShell v7

Next, let's install PowerShell v7

winget install --id Microsoft.PowerShell

Modules

Now that we have our shell application installed, we need to install and setup some PowerShell modules in order to reach the state that we want

Nerd fonts

nerd font is required to display icons on terminal

Download any nerd font that you fancy. For myself, I am using Cascadia Cove font. Once downloaded, extract the zipped file to any directory and right click to install for all users

wt-nerd-font.gif

oh-my-posh

Launch your newly installed PowerShell v7, and install our first PowerShell module

Install-Module oh-my-posh -Scope CurrentUser

After it has been installed, we need to configure PowerShell profile config file

code $profile

you can replace code with notepad or any editor that you are using

The config file will be opened in VSCode, copy the following to the config file, and save

// tell PowerShell to import this module when the shell launch
Import-Module oh-my-posh
// define the theme for our prompt
// you can view the list of themes in https://ohmyposh.dev/docs/themes or run Get-PoshThemes command
Set-PoshPrompt night-owl

comments are not needed to be copied

Your config file would look like this at this stage

wt-ps-profile-config.png

Now, restart your terminal and you should see that the theme has already been applied

image.png

Check out troubleshooting-windows-terminal guide below if it doesn't work for you

terminal-icons

Next, install Terminal-Icons module so that we can display cool looking icons in the terminal

Install-Module -Name Terminal-Icons -Scope CurrentUser

After it has been installed, we need to update the config file

code $profile

The config file will be opened in VSCode, copy the following to the config file, and save

Import-Module Terminal-Icons

So now your config would look like

Import-Module oh-my-posh
Import-Module Terminal-Icons
Set-PoshPrompt night-owl

image.png

The result so far, not bad right?

image.png

PSReadLine

The last module to install is PSReadLine which gives us the ability to display command history in ListView

Install-Module -Name PSReadLine -Scope CurrentUser

After it has been installed, we need to update the config file

code $profile

The config file will be opened in VSCode, copy the following to the config file, and save

Import-Module PSReadLine
Set-PSReadLineOption -PredictionSource History
Set-PSReadLineOption -PredictionViewStyle ListView
Set-PSReadLineOption -EditMode Windows

So now your config would look like

Import-Module oh-my-posh
Import-Module Terminal-Icons
Import-Module PSReadLine
Set-PSReadLineOption -PredictionSource History
Set-PSReadLineOption -PredictionViewStyle ListView
Set-PSReadLineOption -EditMode Windows
Set-PoshPrompt night-owl

image.png

And the result of it, how cool is that!? It has never cross my mind that I could customize my terminal to this state. There's more modules you can bring in from PowerShell if you want to.

image.png

Integration

Now, how good would the experience be if this customization only applies to PowerShell? Well, it is much better than before and I could live with just using PowerShell alone but what if I tell you that we can do better by having the same experience across different shells and IDEs? Don't believe? Continue to read below to see how we can do it.

Shell

Git Shell (Cygwin)

Create .bashrc file in %USERPROFILE% and add the following line

eval "$(oh-my-posh --init --shell bash --config ~/.oh-my-posh/themes/night-owl.omp.json)"

Alternatively, you can run the following command to create the file along with the content for you

$text = 'eval "$(oh-my-posh --init --shell bash --config ~/.oh-my-posh/themes/night-owl.omp.json)"' | Out-File -FilePath $env:USERPROFILE/.bashrc

Your Git Bash should look like this now

image.png

Check out troubleshooting-git-bash guide below if it doesn't work for you

WSL

In Windows Terminal, start WSL shell (e.g Ubuntu), and run the following command to install oh-my-posh

sudo wget https://github.com/JanDeDobbeleer/oh-my-posh/releases/latest/download/posh-linux-amd64 -O /usr/local/bin/oh-my-posh
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/oh-my-posh

If you are using bash

# use vim if you like
nano ~/.bashrc
# place this at the end of the file
# switch the username to yours
eval "$(oh-my-posh --init --shell bash --config /mnt/c/Users/Joseph/.oh-my-posh/themes/night-owl.omp.json)"

If you are using zsh

# use vim if you like
nano ~/.zshrc
# place this at the end of the file
# we are referencing to our theme in Windows path
# switch the username to yours
eval "$(oh-my-posh --init --shell zsh --config '/mnt/c/Users/Joseph/.oh-my-posh/themes/night-owl.omp.json')"

What we are doing above is to configure WSL to reference the same theme that was defined in ours Windows directory. This is to keep the theme consistent especially if you modify your theme, or have a custom one. It is harder to track and sync across multiple places.

Once you have done so, restart your WSL shell and you should see the exact same look shown below

image.png

Command Prompt

Yes, it can work even for the old school Command Prompt via Clink but I did not try that out. Let me know if you do and what's your experience with it.

IDE

IntelliJ

If you are using the latest version of IntelliJ, it should work out of the box, but the font will be slightly different. So let's make some adjustment to ensure everything is the same.

Launch Settings > Tools > Terminal > Application Settings

  • Shell path: C:\Program Files\PowerShell\7\pwsh.exe
  • Ensure: Shell Integration is ticked
  • Click: Apply

image.png

Launch Settings > Editor > Color Scheme > Console Font

  • Tick: Use console font instead of the default
  • Untick: Show only monospaced fonts
  • Font: CaskaydiaCove Nerd Font
  • Click: Apply

image.png

VSCode

For VSCode, it's easier to configure in the JSON configuration, so that's what we are going to do

In VSCode, launch Command Palette (F1) > Preferences: Open Settings (JSON)

Add/Update the following settings

# Some userful config, but not required
"terminal.integrated.copyOnSelection": true,
"terminal.integrated.cursorBlinking": true,
# New feature from VSCode - https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/editor/integrated-terminal
"terminal.integrated.shellIntegration.enabled": true,
# Tell VSCode to use `PowerShell v7` as the default shell when launching
"terminal.integrated.defaultProfile.windows": "PowerShell v7",
"terminal.integrated.fontFamily": "CaskaydiaCove Nerd Font",
"terminal.integrated.profiles.windows": {
    # you would have the following by default except PowerShell v7 which we will add below
    "PowerShell": {
        "source": "PowerShell",
        "icon": "terminal-powershell"
    },
    "Command Prompt": {
        "path": [
            "${env:windir}\\Sysnative\\cmd.exe",
            "${env:windir}\\System32\\cmd.exe"
        ],
        "args": [],
        "icon": "terminal-cmd"
    },
    # not required if Git Bash is not installed
    "Git Bash": {
        "source": "Git Bash"
    },
    # added manually
    "PowerShell v7": {
        "icon": "terminal-powershell",
        "path": "C:\\Program Files\\PowerShell\\7\\pwsh.exe"
    },
}

Restart your Shell after the settings has been updated

image.png

Congratulations on completing all the steps, I assure you that your effort and patience will be paid off after using your brand new terminal setup.

Troubleshoot

Font not displaying properly in Windows Terminal

Does your terminal look like the image below?

image.png

If so, launch the settings for Windows Terminal

Under Profiles > Defaults > Text > Font face

  • Select: Cascadia Cove Nerd Font
  • Click: Save

Restart Terminal, and you should see the terminal font being rendered correctly

image.png

Git Bash theme does not work

Check the following:

  1. Ensure you added %USERPROFILE%\.oh-my-posh to PATH environment variable
  2. Create .bashrc_profile in %USERPROFILE% with the following content
if [[ -f ~/.bashrc ]] ; then
    . ~/.bashrc
fi

Conclusion

Having a great terminal experience will enhance your overall developer experience and improve your productivity! Especially with the multi-tabbed features from Windows Terminal, and PSReadLine module from PowerShell.

Shoutout

Shoutout to Scott Hanselman for writing How to make a pretty prompt in Windows Terminal and My Top Tips for using Windows Terminal like a Pro video that introduce me to the world of terminal awesomeness in Windows

 
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