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Organise cmd, PowerShell and bash sessions with ConEmu

07 August 2016, Mike Williams

ConEmuManaging your Windows command prompts has been getting more complicated recently. A regular command window here; PowerShell there; maybe another, only elevated; update to Windows 10 Anniversary Edition and you could get bash, too.

Fortunately the open-source console emulator ConEmu can make life easier and save you time, whether you’re a console expert or only head to the command line when it’s really, really necessary.

Launch the program and it displays a default starting task of “{Shells::cmd}”, which essentially gives you a prettier version of the regular Windows console.

Browse that list, though, and you’ll see options to launch PowerShell, to run these windows as Admin, even – on the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition, if it’s enabled (instructions here) – to run bash via the new “Linux on Windows Subsystem”.


ConEmu supports the new “bash on Windows” system, although there are a few glitches

Choose your preferred option and it opens in a new tab. You can use this much like a regular console, but it’s vastly more configurable– check out the Settings dialog to see what you can do.

Clicking the “+” icon on the toolbar adds a new console tab of the same type, or you can alternatively choose another type from a list (cmd elevated, PowerShell, bash and so on).

Once you’ve got your preferred set of console tabs, right-click each to rename them, and drag-and-drop to place them in whatever order you need.

By default these settings only last for the current session, and if you close ConEmu they’ll be lost.

Click Settings > Startup and you’ll find options to automatically reopen the last opened tabs when you next start, or to always open the program with a particular list of tasks (use a regular text file with commands line {Shells::PowerShell} and {Shells::cmd (Admin)}, one per line).

Within a minute or two you can have multiple tabs of different consoles, elevated or not, renamed and positioned to suit your needs, and all available from a single shortcut. Give it a try.

ConEmu is an open-source application for Windows.

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