Best Terminal Emulators For Windows: Cmd and PowerShell Alternatives

In this tutorial, we will look at various terminal applications for Windows that you can use to replace the default PowerShell or CMD applications.
Captain Salem 4 min read
Best Terminal Emulators For Windows: Cmd and PowerShell Alternatives

A terminal app, also known as a command-line interface (CLI) or shell, is a program that provides text-based interaction with a computer's operating system. It allows users to execute commands by typing them as text inputs and receiving text-based outputs in response.

A terminal provides a command prompt where users can enter commands to perform various tasks, such as navigating the file system, running programs, managing processes, configuring system settings, and more. These commands are usually entered using specific syntax and keywords recognized by the operating system or the shell.

In Windows, the most common terminal application is the Windows PowerShell or Windows Command Prompt. However, these tools can be limited in their features and customization.

#1 Tabby

One of the most epic, well-developed, high-performance, and highly customizable terminal app for Windows is Tabby or

Tabby is a free, open-source, cross-platform terminal emulator offering many features for sys administrators, developers, and geeks.

It includes features such as:

  • Runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Integrated SSH client with a connection manager
  • Integrated serial terminal
  • PowerShell, PS Core, WSL, Git-Bash, Cygwin, Cmder, and CMD support
  • Full Unicode support, including double-width characters
  • File transfer from/to SSH sessions via SFTP and Zmodem
  • Theming and color schemes
  • Fully configurable shortcuts and multi-chord shortcuts
  • Remembers your tabs and split panes
  • Proper shell experience on Windows, including tab completion
  • Integrated encrypted container for SSH secrets and configuration
  • Multiple nested panes
  • Progress bars and activity notifications for tabs
  • Tabby remembers open tabs and panes where you left off
  • Tabs on any side of the window
  • Optional quake mode (terminal docked to a side of the screen)
  • Optional global hotkey to focus/hide the terminal
  • Bracketed paste
  • SSH2 client with a connection manager
  • SFTP and Zmodem file transfers
  • X11 and port forwarding
  • Jump hosts
  • Agent forwarding - including Pageant and Windows native OpenSSH Agent
  • Login scripts
  • Optional built-in password manager with a master passphrase
  • Proxy command support
  • Support for different shells in the same window
  • Better tab completion cmd.exe thanks to Clink.
  • Explorer menu integration
  • Optional portable mode
  • Current directory detection that works
  • Multiple connection profiles
  • Newline conversion
  • Text, readline and byte-by-byte input modes
  • Text and hexdump output modes
  • Zmodem
  • Non-standard baud rates
  • Themes customizable with CSS
  • Extensible via plugins (in JS)
  • A bunch of color schemes already included
  • Telnet client
  • Font ligatures and font fallback
  • Clickable URLs, IPs and paths
  • WinSCP integration
  • Shell profiles
  • Simultaneous multi-pane input
  • Optional PuTTY style right-click paste and copy on select
  • macOS vibrancy and Win 10 fluent background support

And so much more.

#2 Hyper.JS

Hyper or Hyper.js is a terminal application built by Vercel with the aim of providing a beautiful and extensible experience for command-line interface users, built on open web standards.

You can learn how to install Hyper here:

#3 Windows Terminal

The Windows Terminal is a modern, fast, efficient, powerful, and productive terminal application for command-line tools and shells like Command Prompt, PowerShell, and WSL.

Its main features include

  • multiple tabs
  • panes
  • Unicode and UTF-8 character support
  • a GPU-accelerated text rendering engine
  • custom themes, styles, and configurations.
  • and more.

Windows Terminal is the official PowerShell and CMD replacement from Microsoft. It is built with the aim of providing a native and exceptional shell experience out of the Box. Windows Terminal is now the default terminal emulator in the latest Windows Versions.

#4 Cmder

We cannot forget about Cmder.

Cmder is a software package that provides a console emulator for Windows, a more friendly environment for users familiar with Unix-style command line interfaces.

It is a portable console emulator bundled with utilities like git, a Unix emulator, SSH, and many more. It benefits those who often need to use Unix or Linux-style command line on Windows.

Cmder is built on top of ConEmu and incorporates Clink, which brings Bash-style shell functionality to the Windows command line, like persistent history, syntax highlighting, and more.

This package provides a more robust and feature-rich command-line experience on Windows.

#5 MobaXterm

Finally, we have MobaXterm from Mobatek. This is the Swiss army knife for all who need comprehensive remote tooling.

It is an advanced terminal for Windows with an X11 server, a tabbed SSH client, and several other network tools for remote computing (VNC, RDP, telnet, rlogin).

MobaXterm allows users to manage their computers in a remote location. This can be particularly useful for system administrators, developers, webmasters, and anyone needing to work with their computers remotely.

MobaXterm brings all the essential Unix commands to the Windows desktop in a single portable executable file that works out of the box.

It has a lot of features like:

  • Embedded X server: Fully configured Xserver based on
  • Several Unix/Linux commands: bash, ls, cat, sed, grep, awk, rsync, etc.
  • Add-ons and plugins: You can extend MobaXterm capabilities with plugins.
  • Versatile session manager: All your network tools in one app: Rdp, Vnc, Ssh, Mosh, and X11.
  • Portable and light application.
  • Professional application: MobaXterm Professional has been designed for security and stability.

Unfortunately, the professional version of MobaXterm is not free and requires a license of $69 per user. However, you can get the free version which includes support from various tools.


With this tutorial, you discovered five alternatives to the default terminal application in Windows. Each of these offers something different, and one will suit you better than the rest. For us, we advocate for Tabby 😊.

Try them and leave a comment on your favorite down below.

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