I always have one foot on each boat with Windows and Linux, so I absolutely love the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). It’s a great way to do Linux stuff in Windows. And it makes it easy to connect with other Linux systems. I use Windows Terminal to access it, and it’s a highly customizable app.

Recently when doing a demo, someone asked, “how in the heck did you get your terminal to look like that?” It’s not the first time I’ve heard this, so I’ll share some of the ways I customize my WSL terminal.

How to Customize Windows Terminal

Where to Get WSL and Windows Terminal

To do these customizations, you’ll need WSL and Windows Terminal.

Or you can read my guide to getting started with WSL. Even if you’re a die-hard Windows developer, I suggest downloading this and checking it out. It’s a safe and easy way to learn Linux.

Changing the Background

Here’s what the terminal looks like after you download it. I’m using Debian here:

How to Customize Windows Terminal

It’s not terrible. It looks pretty good, actually. Much better than cmd, right?

How to Customize Windows Terminal

But Windows Terminal is so much cooler. Let’s change the background.

Since you can use Windows Terminal for Windows CMD, PowerShell, or Linux, I like to use backgrounds to quickly identify them. For Linux, I like to use this Tux Penguin background.

So, I save it in a folder in my Documents.

How to Customize Windows Terminal

Then, with Windows Terminal open, click the down arrow at the top bar, and select settings:

How to Customize Windows Terminal

This will open up your settings.json file for Windows Terminal:

How to Customize Windows Terminal

It’s buried deep in a path that looks like this:

How to Customize Windows Terminal

But here, you can make your changes.

Each terminal is broken out with a GUID attached. You can look at the name to see which terminal tab it indicates. I’ll select the Debian one:

How to Customize Windows Terminal

Next you will need to add a “backgroundImage” element.

Now, since I know that I have my file in documents, I can add the %USERPROFILE% placeholder and add my folder and file name. Point it to where you saved the image.

"backgroundImage": "%USERPROFILE%/Documents/TerminalBGs/linux.png",

And now it looks like this:

How to Customize Windows Terminal

Pretty cool, but it could be hard to read. Thankfully, you can add a little transparency:

"backgroundImageOpacity": 0.2

How to Customize Windows Terminal

Ah, much better. But we can take it one step further. I have my cool Windows XP background, and I want a little of it to “bleed through”. I know it’s a silly detail, but I like it. Here’s how you do it:

"backgroundImageOpacity": 0.3
"useAcrylic": true,
"acrylicOpacity": 0.1

I upped the background opacity a bit and add “useAcrylic”. Now it looks like this:

How to Customize Windows Terminal

Very cool, right?

It’s that easy. I like to do this so I can quickly identify which window I’m using and what OS or Environment it’s using.

Here are some more backgrounds you can use if you like:

Changing Fonts

I like to make my fonts bigger, especially if I’m doing presentations. I love the command line, and use it whenever possible, so the folks watching need to see it. That’s pretty easy to change:

"fontSize": 18

How to Customize Windows Terminal

Pretty sweet huh? Here’s all the code for the window above:

"backgroundImage": "%USERPROFILE%/Documents/TerminalBGs/linux.png",
"backgroundImageOpacity": 0.3,
"useAcrylic": true,
"acrylicOpacity": 0.8,
"fontSize": 18

You can get really creative if you want:

How to Customize Windows Terminal

You can change up the fonts and even colors, by adding color changes to the schemes array:

How to Customize Windows Terminal

It’s incredibly easy!

Go Change Your Terminal Theme!!

There are many reasons to change your Terminal themes:

  • Presentations
  • To help differentiate window types
  • Just for fun

If you come up with a cool theme, share it! I’ll put together some of my favorites I use often. If you make a cool theme let me know, I’d love to see it!

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Published: Jan 28, 2021 by Jeremy Morgan. Contact me before republishing this content.