Console2 is incredibly simple, at its core it is a host for command line applications such as Windows PowerShell and Ruby’s REPL. Given all of its simplicity there are a number of features that truly set it apart from the Windows Command Prompt.
Console2 implements the concept of “tabs” whereby a single Console2 window is able to host multiple processes separating them by a series of tabs along the top of the screen. You can cycle through these tabs by pressing Ctrl+Plus and Ctrl+Shift+Plus. I have extracted and adapted a series of icons to quickly and visually differentiate between the tabs along the top of the window. In addition I have given the different tabs a colour that represents the language, this gives me another visual cue as to the environment I am immersed in.
Configuring general Console2 settings
To make your configuration portable it is important to make sure “Save settings to user directory” is selected in the configuration options, do this before you configure anything else.
Having a clear readable font is important if you are spending an significant amount of time at the console. First I have changed the font to Consolas and specified the size as 15pt which is a bit of a magic number for Consolas; as it represents the cusp at which the font weight appears slightly thicker and large enough to be read while pairing or recording screen casts, a tip I picked up from Scott Hanselman. I have also selected ClearType under font smoothing as this provides advanced anti-aliasing.
The remainder of the settings are largely up to your preference, I have published my Console 2 configuration directory as a a repository on GitHub which you are more than welcome to fork and modify for your own purposes, it also serves as a handy reference to how I configure Console2. I quite like the window to be slightly transparent, about 20%, so that I can see windows behind the console window when I am not using this.
This is where the real power of Console2 lies. Each tab is broadly configured in exactly the same way:
- Title: A short descriptive title, i.e. PowerShell (32-bit), Ruby Shell, NodeJS REPL.
- Icon: To get Icons to work you have to extract with a utility such as IconsExtract from NirSoft.
- Shell: It is usually easiest to extract the Shell path from the icon that is installed with the product it hosts, you can do this by right clicking the icon and selecting properties. It is good practice to use environment variables such as %SYSTEMROOT% to ensure your configuration is portable.
- Startup Dir: I set this to C:Source across the board which is the root of all of my code directories.
- Background: This is a separate options tab and allows you to select a solid, gradient or image background
Console2 provides a lot of power for very little configuration, if you spend more than a few minutes at the command prompt spend 30 minutes to configure your environment to work for you: