Command Prompt / Console / Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)

Greetings from the Windows Command-Line Teams, including the Windows Console and Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) teams!

We’re hear to learn about the features you’d like to see in the Windows Console (the terminal app itself), Cmd and PowerShell shells, and the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) upon which several Linux distros now run!

Note: Please don’t file bugs & issues here: file issues on our GitHub repos instead:

Please DO post your asks, ideas, wants and needs for future features: We ARE listening, and we ARE grateful for your feedback!

Windows Console & WSL Teams.

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  1. Windows Console should support tabbed 'pages'

    Great to see some of these improvements, especially the cut/copy/paste keyboard shortcuts. However, I've been seeking for a way for the cmd window to have a tabbed interface for a while. So, for example, I can run a ping/tracert etc. in one tab, a chkdsk in another tab, and something else in a third, without having multiple windows open taking up screen real estate.

    Also consider adding panes side-by-side within the console.

    1,665 votes
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    66 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  2. UTF-8

    I really really want utf-8, I do not use any legacy console apps from 80-s, so please please please make it happens :)

    777 votes
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    21 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    As Chip said, UTF-16 is rather baked into the stuff we do. The console host does use UTF-16 somewhere in there. :P We just have the matter of dealing with code pages throughout the history of computing existence that causes us heartburn every time we think about how to fix this. :( It’s definitely something that we would like to look into on our backlog.

    —Michael

  3. Make links clickable

    Parse console output for urls and make it possible to open them with a click (or ctrl+click).

    337 votes
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    7 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    Yep, this would be really cool. Not just for URLs, but things like paths too. Script emits a path to an error log? Just ctrl+click it to open!

    I can see some trickery around the parsing (performance impacts? security? and of course the parsing itself…) and the launching of another app (security again?). But it would be awesome.

    It’s on our backlog for sure.

    —Michael

  4. Mouse Scroll Wheel or CTRL +/- to zoom text size

    Another needed step to make the Cmd feel more responsive and dynamic.

    332 votes
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    15 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  5. Global hotkey to activate/deactivate running console window.

    It would be great if there could be a global hotkey to activate and deactivate the console window.

    This is also called a "quake style" command line, similar to the console in Quake games.

    For example, if I have the console running in the background, but my current focus is Visual Studio and I hit Ctrl+`, it should activate the console window by making it the current focus. Hitting Ctrl + ` again would make Visual Studio the focus.

    iTerm2 on the Mac has this and it's my favorite feature.

    200 votes
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    15 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    You will be Rich’s best friend forever. He loves the idea of a Quake console as well and talks about it all the time. :P I know for sure this is in our backlog already.

    Some of the suggestions like persistence and multiple sessions and whatnot seem related to the “history between sessions” and tabs/multiplexing ideas. Same technical challenges apply, but sounds possible at some point. :)

    —Michael

  6. Enhance Background Transparency

    Transparency is an essential visual enhancement for many and should generally only apply to the window contents and not the surrounding "chrome" of the window, such as the title bar and scroll bar.

    Optionally, the Console "frame" could be made transparent when focused/un-focused, controlled via separate transparency slider

    Also, it'd be awesome if the Console background could support the Fluent blurring effect to reduce the distraction of the contents of underlying windows while giving some visual cue as to what the app underneath is doing.

    187 votes
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    on the backlog  ·  13 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  7. Auto-hide scrollbar, esecially in full-screen mode

    Hide the scrollbar until mouse approaches it. Make the "hit zone" for showing the scrollbar bigger than the scrollbar itself so it's not too hard to show. This feature would be especially nice in full screen mode.

    138 votes
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    11 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  8. Backspace should delete selected text

    Now that you can easily select text [with ctrl+a or just by dragging over it] and copy and paste text [with ctrl+c & ctrl+d], why not make that we should not be required to delete every character separately?! Please make the backspace and delete key work to delete all selected text.

    124 votes
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    2 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    Oooh yep. That is a natural extension of what we’ve done. It’s just a lot trickier to manipulate the input line (there are different input modes that apps can subscribe to and whatnot) than it is to enable more ways to select the output. But I hear you for sure. Now that we select more like a text editor, I want it all! It’s on the backlog. :)

    —Michael

  9. Consider adding a status-bar

    2.Please add an (optional) status-bar showing the cursor position in X:Y coordinates, Insert key mode, Text selection mode, etc.

    [Transposed from my original asks posted in 2011 :)]

    97 votes
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    on the backlog  ·  5 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  10. Support long paths (>MAX_PATH)

    Please support long paths (>MAX_PATH) - robocopy supports that, the Windows API supports that (=> "\\.\").
    Right now I have to use subst to shorten the path, which is a real pain.

    62 votes
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    3 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  11. Enable Console to use Fallback Fonts to display emoji and more Unicode codepoints

    It'd be nice if Console could support font fallback to enable it to display emoji, east-Asian glyphs, and Unicode symbols.

    Consolas doesn't have very broad Unicode coverage, and most *nix terminals have the capability.

    53 votes
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    4 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  12. Editing area of cmd should be consistent with standard Windows UI design principles

    Right now there is Quick Edit mode, which controls 2 things.

    1) Whether or not right clicking immediately pastes (Quick Edit=On) or displays a context menu (Quick Edit=Off)
    2) Whether or not click drag can select text (Quick Edit=On) or does nothing (Quick Edit=Off)

    However, any normal text editor or program which uses a standard windows edit control behaves like Quick Edit=Off for right clicking and Quick Edit=On for selection. So the behavior of cmd is both inconsistent with Windows' own UI design principles as well as very inconvenient.

    If you want to select text like people always select text…

    40 votes
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    3 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  13. Selecting text shouldn't pause program

    Many people run into the unexpected behavior that accidentally selecting text on the console causes their program to pause when it tries to write to the output stream.

    While text is selected, the console should continue to read from the output stream, and have some different way to provide stable text selection (freeze the scrollbar, or just render the text after the selection ended?).

    Here's some other users who probably find the current behavior unintuitive:
    https://superuser.com/questions/555160/windows-command-prompt-freezing-on-focus
    https://superuser.com/questions/459609/what-does-it-do-exactly-if-i-click-in-the-window-of-cmd

    28 votes
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    4 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  14. More integration with Windows features.

    Add commands to interact with standard Windows features. Metro Notifications, systray messages, Message boxes, and maybe even window actions. (close/minimize other windows)

    28 votes
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    0 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  15. Make UTF-8 an option for "non-Unicode" programs (ACP)

    While I personally appreciate Microsoft's recent improvements involving CP_UTF8 in UoW/conhost, I feel that the support is still far from complete.

    Windows' traditional way of making console programs support Unicode characters – compiler-level settings like TCHAR & UNICODE – have been causing troubles for cross-platform libraries and their users. On the other hand, UTF-8, an ASCII-compatible MBCS with support for full Unicode ranges, has become the choice of "legacy-style" C/C++ programmers as well as front-end engineers.

    MS is now extending its sphere of influence to many other fields, by introducing open-source programming components and by providing decent cross-platform app-building support.…

    26 votes
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    3 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    The biggest overhaul to the Console’s innards in more than 30 years is currently underway. UTF-8 support is something that we are and will be working on in order to support a much broader set of scenarios, platforms, clients and tools.

    Just one example of the level of improvements being made include all the Virtual Terminal sequence support added to the Console during Win10AU to support many *NIX tools, along with the new 24-bit color support we released in today’s Insiders build #14931.

    Stay tuned for lots more improvements coming in future insiders and major releases.

  16. Please improve the environment variables UI or add startup scripts

    Not directly cmd.exe but closely related: Working in CMD often requires to manually set PATH variables (since there still is no default location for user installed binaries like perl, python, MinGW etc.) and as of now the UI is completly unusable:

    * Working with one single big string
    * No validation of paths
    * No easy enable/disable or (manual) sorting of paths
    * No resizing of the window/input text field

    Alternatively, you could add a startup script like the good old "bashrc" on linux where you could use a couple of SET commands to configure your CMD by hand…

    22 votes
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    6 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  17. Libsixel support for CMD/Powershell/WSL

    I would like native libsixel support as the only current way to run it is as per this comment https://github.com/Microsoft/WSL/issues/1099#issuecomment-248513013. If possible, this support would be for for all terminals. This would prove extremely useful in performing quick research without having to leave the terminal.

    20 votes
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    2 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  18. Visually indicate when a console is expecting keyboard input

    When executing a long running task, you often switch away from the console window to do something else. Sometimes these tasks prompt you (e.g. to confirm to overwrite a file).

    It would be nice if the taskbar button (for example) could change colors indicating that the program in the console window needs keyboard input similar to how Windows highlights the taskbar button when requiring privilege escalation.

    17 votes
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    0 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  19. Please add an easy way to Tail a file

    Please add an easy way to tail a file, currently the command in power shell is too complicate to figure out and it has a lot of latency to show file changes. Implement it as same as in Linux ;)
    tail -f myfile.txt

    16 votes
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    1 comment  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
  20. Change code page in the command window settings

    Can you please add a GUI control in CMD window settings to change the code page, instead of CHCP command & remembering the boring numbers?

    Especially, allow us to enable UTF-8 encoding easily (it already works, great, thanks!)

    14 votes
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    0 comments  ·  Console/Terminal  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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