Unfortunately, command line might still be useful, but the actual Command Prompt tool really has fallen behind the times. While Microsoft makes occasional changes to the Command Prompt, it’s certainly not a major focus for the company.
The good news is that there are plenty of Command Prompt alternatives out there that use the same command line functions, but add quite a few modern conveniences such as tabbed windows, transparency, better copying and pasting, and so much more.
Let’s jump right in and take a look at three of the best command prompt replacements out there on the web:
Personally one of my favorite Command Prompt replacements, ConEmu hasn’t been around terribly long (about a year or so), but has a ton of options and is highly customizable.
Like the idea of a transparent window? ConEmu has an easy to use System Settings menu that makes it possible. Want a background image instead? You can do that as well.
Of course Command Prompt has never been about beauty, it’s all about getting things done. For that, ConEmu offers features liked tabbed browsing and the ability to quickly rename each tab for organizational purposes.
Probably one of the best features – productivity wise – is the ability to create a list of pre-defined commands.
Once you have set up and saved settings for your newly defined commands/tasks, every time you launch the ConEmu program you can simply choose from one of these easy commands from a drop-down menu found in the top right of the screen.
While ConEmu is my favorite, I have to admit that PowerCMD is a pretty interesting alternative as well.
I’m pretty new to this tool compared to ConEmu, but am quickly finding that it does almost everything that ConEmu does – and more. Sure, PowerCMD doesn’t have the ability for transparencies or fancy background images, but you can change the window color.
If you want tabbed browsing, PowerCMD delivers, but it goes a step further. You can actually divide up the screen into 2 – 4 boxes that allow you to run multiple windows and commands all at the same time.
Need access to quick commands, PowerCMD also offers this time of functionality and allows you to execute set commands by using a quick key combo, like CTRL + F2.
Finally, while typing in commands, PowerCMD also will give you suggestions and will let you browse through and find the folder you are looking for. This is particularly useful if you aren’t exactly sure where a file or directory is located!
Honestly, I don’t have nearly as much love for Console2 as ConEmu or PowerCMD. For starters, it isn’t nearly as powerful or customizable as the others. Still, it works well and remains one of the best Command Prompt alternatives on the market, even if not as exciting as the first tools we mentioned.
For what it’s worth, Console2 does still feature things like window transparency or a background image.
It also has tabbed browsing and many of the same power user features as you’ll find with the other two.
So what you won’t get? Unless I’m missing something here, I don’t see any way to set up pre-defined commands for quick use. Otherwise, Command2 offers a similar level of functionality.
So there we have it, 3 great alternatives to the default Windows command prompt. Which is right for you? It comes down to a few things.
If you want the best visuals and fancy UI elements, ConEmu is probably what your looking for. Tons of powerful features without as much focus on beauty? Then you’ll want PowerCMD. Finally, Console2 is great if you just want the basics but are still looking for a few enhancements from the Windows default Command Prompt.
Cool Tip: Windows 8 users, did you know you can pin the Command Prompt right to the new start screen? Here’s how.
All of these tools should work with any version of Windows from XP to Windows 8.1, though I personally have only tested them on Windows 7, 8 and 8.1.
What do you think of these 3 command prompt replacements, know any other good ones that you want to share with our readers? Shout them out in the comments below!