In this article learn about the best alternative to the Windows command prompt, ConEmu, as well as little play through with the additional software to make terminal experience more advanced – add support for playing mp3’s (Mpxplay) and navigate better by using dual pane file manager (Far Manager).
OK, so this is the story: I searched the Internet to find a good alternative Windows command prompt, because I couldn’t stand built-in command prompt with very, very basic features… It lacks useful features, such as:
- full screen display,
- tab support,
- text highlighting,
- better customization, and other features.
It can’t be compared with the feature rich Linux terminal, for example.
When it comes to the full screen display, it can be activated on the Windows XP operating system. It is a pity that it can’t be activated on its successors… Microsoft reminded us once again that they like to remove or limit useful features of their products (just remember the excellent Windows XP Repair feature, which can be performed even when Windows can’t start successfully – a feature that is not implemented in modern Windows operating systems…).
ConEmu – alternative command prompt on steroids!
ConEmu (Console Emulator) is a free and open source software for the Windows operating system. Initially, the program was created as a companion to Far Manager, bringing some features common for graphical file managers to this console application (thumbnails, drag and drop, and others).
ConEmu: [download] , [documentation] , [sourceforge]
Here is a small list of useful features of ConEmu:
- configurable status bar; although placed on top by default, I find it more useful at the bottom, which can be seen on my screenshots,
- tab support; note 3 tabs on my screenshots, where the first tab shows terminal emulator, on the second one I started Far manager, and Mpxplay plays music on the third tab,
- custom color palettes support,
- screen transparency,
- hot keys support,
- “Jump” lists; with ConEmu you can have all your favorite commands and configurations in a one click location! You can also pin batch files and other,
- Progress bars – this developer used a few tricks to show current progress of some activity in the taskbar. As an example, run chkdsk and note the ConEmu icon in the taskbar,
- Split Screen – see the bonus section,
- … and many, many more – refer to the documentation for the complete list of explained features.
This is really a paradise for system and network administrators that want to have a good overview in one or multiple tabs. You can organize your CMD, PowerShell, telnet and putty, Azure PowerShell, and many more in a single application!
I highly recommend trying this software and playing a bit with its rich features 🙂
Far manager – dual pane file manager in Windows terminal
Far Manager (File and ARchive Manager) is an orthodox file manager for Microsoft Windows, and although it’s interface is keyboard-oriented, it supports mouse operation (drag-and-drop, contextual menus via right mouse click, and other). And the interesting thing is that Windows Explorer in its current incarnation in Windows 10 still lacks dual pane and tab features…
Far Manager: [download] , [plugins] , [sourceforge]
Therefore, a logical choice when you install ConEmu je is its integration with Far Manager. Here is the short list of some useful features:
- internal viewer and editor,
- customizable user menus,
- tree view,
- file search,
- compare feature,
- macro support,
- plugin support (Far manager comes with the FTP, Windows network, archive support, and others by default),
- contextual menu support (with the right mouse click),
- … and many, many, more.
There is also support for the 3rd party plugins in a repository, which are continually developed. Useful ones are the syntax highlighting, auto completion for text editors, SFTP/SCP, HEX editor, picture editor and other. Additionally, you can use a number of Total Commander plugins by using wrappers. Look at the screenshot below to see the dual pane layout and thumbnails in the right pane:
It’s recommended to extract/install ConEmu and Far in the same folder. If ConEmu sees Far.exe executable, it will be opened by default.
Here is the screenshot of the contextual menu in Far manager that is run in Windows 10:
Conclusion: a powerful and functional software!
Mpxplay – listen to music directly from the command prompt
To complete this story, when we set up all the advanced features, it’s great to listen to music while performing system administration tasks, isn’t it? 🙂 To stay completely geek, we’ll use a command prompt application, Mpxplay, to play our favorite mp3’s.
At the time I was listening to this great cover: For whom the bell tolls.
ConEmu supports Split Screen so multiple terminals can be displayed in a single tab. Follow this guide, if you are interested to use this feature. And here is the screenshot:
Possibly the biggest concurrent app: Take Command
Alternative Windows Command prompt - play mp3, full screen CMD, and more
In this article learn about the best alternative to the Windows command prompt, ConEmu, as well as little play through with the additional software to make terminal experience more advanced - add support for playing mp3's (Mpxplay) and navigate better by using dual pane file manager (Far Manager).