While recent version of Windows have started offering something called PowerShell, that addresses only half of the problem. Using PowerShell is still a decidedly eighties-style experience, with plain looking windows and a dearth of customization options. In sweeps Console, ready to save the day with its awesome-sauce and open-source chic.
At its simplest, you can use Console to create a ginormous-looking command console. “But this can be done with Windows’ own console!” I hear you say. You’re right, you really can change the font size with the default Windows tool. What you can’t do is smoothly drag it to change its width – and that’s something Console easily lets you do.
This alone may not be worth the hassle of installing a new app. Fortunately, Console has several other tricks up its sleeve. Check this out:
This is part of Console’s Settings dialog, which lets you configure multiple tabs. Not only can you have several tabs, but each tab can use a different shell! So you can have normal Windows “cmd” running alongside PowerShell, in one single app. In fact, there it is:
This screenshot gave me a chance to demo another PowerShell feature called alpha transparency. While there are plenty of third-party utilities that let you set window opacity for any app on your system (Volumouse, anyone?), it’s nice to have that option built right into Console.
Console’s tabs are different than your browser’s tabs in one key respect: Each new tab type you make gets saved, and you can then quickly access that type of tab using the New Tab menu.
By the way, can you see how the text cursor in the screenshot above looks a bit strange? That’s because it’s pulsing – Console lets you select one of several styles for your cursor, and I went for one that constantly changes size, just to see what it’s like. It’s a cute gimmick but not something I think I’d use on a regular basis.
Another one of my pet peeves about Windows’ default console is that for some obscure reason, you can’t just select text and copy it! You need to go to the window menu, select Edit, then Mark. What’s the deal, Microsoft? With Console, I can just hold down Shift, start dragging, and text is selected for copying just like I would expect it to work. Once text is selected, you do need to use a toolbar button to copy it – if you’ve ever used the console before, you may remember that Ctrl+C means “Break” in DOS.
I first used Console when I needed it for screen-sharing. I was looking for a way to quickly make a huge console window that the other person could clearly see even though resolution was terrible on our connection. It did the trick then, but that was using just part of its abilities. If you spend any length of time using Windows’ command-line tools, then first – you have my condolences. Second, you really should take Console for a spin.