Terminals and Terminal Emulators 

When using your computer, there are essential programs that you can not avoid. One of those programs is terminal, an outstanding tool that allows us to automate and complete tasks faster. A terminal does not use a graphical user interface; thus, it uses a command-line interface to process and execute commands. For instance, you can create a folder with a few command lines on your terminal without clicking around the computer. Examples of terminals in Windows 10 /11 include PowerShell and command prompt command-line interfaces.

Terminal emulators are software that replicates how a classic computer terminal functions. In earlier days, they were used to access another computer including a mainframe or minicomputer. Thus, a terminal emulator gives users access to multiple shells and legacy programs on your Windows operating system. For terminal emulation to be successful, you are required to install an emulator. In our case, we will install and use the ConEmu terminal emulator on Windows 10/11.

ConEmu Terminal Emulator

ConEmu is a short form for Console Emulator. It is a free and open-source terminal emulator supporting tabs and is distinctively developed for Windows. ConEmu is popularly known for providing a customizable GUI(Graphical User Interface) with tabs and a status bar. Thus, if you want to open PowerShell, Linux Bash, and Command Prompt, you don’t have to open them in separate windows. ConEmu allows you to open all of them on the same program window on different tabs.

Features of ConEmu

  • Compactible with many programs: Examples are PuTTY, CMD, and PowerShell.
  • Open-Source and actively developed.
  • Tabs Support: Multiple shells and instances are opened on the same shell simultaneously.
  • Customizable: Easy to change settings on fonts, background images, shortcuts, and colors.
  • Clickable and Configurable status bar.
  • Supports dynamic window resizing.
  • Customizable starting tabs.
  • Inbuilt screenshot feature.

 Install ConEmu Terminal Emulator on Windows 11/10

Installation of ConEmu Terminal Emulator can be done using either installer or 7-Zip package. Get these packages from GitHub and click on the download button as illustrated below.

After clicking the download button, you will be redirected to FossHub where you will download the files.

Option 1: Installing ConEmu Using Installer

From the above image, click on the ConEmu installer to download it. Find the file on your downloads.

Click on the downloaded file and run it as an administrator.

Choose the version you would like to install on your Windows 10/11.

Continue with the installation by clicking on Next. ConEmu allows you to choose the features you want to be installed.

On the next step, click on Install for the installation of ConEmu on your system.

Complete installing the ConEmu Terminal Emulator by clicking on Finish.

From your computer, search and click on the installed ConEmu Terminal Terminal and start using it.

Option 2: Installing ConEmu Using 7-zip Package

Download the ConEmu portable 7-zip package from FossHub. Extract the file using either 7-Zip or Winrar. Here is an image with both the downloaded and extracted files.

Run the ConEmu file as an administrator, choose the 64-bit or 32-bit depending on your computer specifications.

A configuration window will appear where you can set the start-up tasks and application storage location. Set the update page as Stable.

ConEmu Terminal Emulator will open on your Windows 10/11.

Using ConEmu Terminal Emulator on Windows

ConEmu is user-friendly and easy to navigate. There are a couple of things you can achieve from ConEmu.

a) Adding Tabs

With ConEmu Terminal Emulator on Windows 10/11, you can add tabs and use several shells and programs simultaneously. For instance, we can add PowerShell and use it alongside Command Prompt. Click on the drop-down arrow next to the + button on ConEmu and add PowerShell from the shells menu.

Now, you can run the PowerShell commands from the open tab.

b) Adding a Task

Apart from shells, ConEmu allows you to add other programs. From the running shell, we will add Notepad ++ as our example. Start by right-clicking on the PowerShell.

From the small windows that appear, go to settings.

Then continue by clicking on tasks and adding another task from the + button. Give the program a name; I will name it Notepad ++.

Add the file path to the program you want to run. Choose the program you want to run from the file location and click on Open.

Save the settings.

c) Run Added Task

From the ConEmu console dialog section, find the program you have added.

Click on the program to open it. Notepad ++ will open on ConEmu as illustrated below.

Note that you can add another console from the running program.

For instance, you can add PowerShell below Notepad ++.

After creating a new console on Notepad ++, you will see a split window with PowerShell and Notepad ++.

To exit from a split window, type exit on PowerShell.

d) Status bar

At the bottom of ConEmu, you can see the status bar. To make any changes, click on it. For example, we can add the system time.

Run WSL2 in ConEmu Terminal Emulator

WSL stands for Windows Subsystem for Linux. It is a subsystem that enables you to run native Linux binaries in Windows 10/11 using recompilations or virtual machines.WSL2 is the updated version of WSL.

Installing WSL2 Command

Run PowerShell or command prompt as an administrator. Use this command for installation.

wsl --install

WSL version 1 will be installed automatically. To upgrade to Version 2, download the WSL2 installer. Run the installer and when prompted for elevated permissions, click yes. Go back to PowerShell or command prompt and set WSL2 as default using this command:

wsl --set-default-version 2

You can now check which version of WSL is being used.

wsl -l -v

Run WSL2 in ConEmu in Windows 11/10

To run WSL2 on ConEmu, click on create a new console. WSL will appear on the available options. Click on it and start using WSL2 on the ConEmu terminal emulator.

Now you can use your Linux distro from ConEmu after running WSL2.

Conclusion

ConEmu terminal emulator on Windows 10/11 is an effective tool to use. ConEmu makes it easy to use multiple shells and programs from a single interface. Note that, as you interact with ConEmu, you will realize it has many outstanding features. Follow this guide to install and use ConEmu on your windows operating system. Feel free to leave a comment in case you have any queries.

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