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alternative console for windowsSome time ago I wrote about an alternative console client for Windows called Console Console Lets You Work In Windows Command Line Mode With Style Console Lets You Work In Windows Command Line Mode With Style When it comes to the command line, it seems that Linux and Mac OS users get all the fun. They have fantastic shell environments, but more importantly, they have a very slick console application to... Read More . These was a fairly lively discussion in the comments, so I figured I’d share another interesting console client I found; this one is called ColorConsole, and it’s tiny, portable and free.

The premise is quite similar to Console, in that it dresses up your dull Windows CMD window in pretty colors (with multiple themes) and makes the text zoomable. It does add a few interesting features, though. First, let’s take an overall look at the window:

alternative console for windows

The menu seems a bit squashed, but that’s just because I reduced the size of the window so I could take the screenshot. The HTML and RTF buttons are interesting; watch what happens when I click the HTML button:

alternative windows console

That’s the exact same output, in the same colors and fonts, but in a Chrome window. ColorConsole just rendered the complete window in HTML, colors and all.

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You can save this HTML file, post it to the Web or email it, to show someone the exact output you got on your screen. If it’s just one screenful, you can just as easily copy and paste the information. But the HTML/RTF export feature actually outputs a dump of the entire console session, so you can send someone a detailed log showing many commands, in a very readable format.

Speaking of readability, my chosen theme may not be your cup of tea. Fortunately, ColorConsole offers several other themes:

alternative windows console

The names are very dramatic (“Blood-Matrix”) and contain the occasional typo (“Withe” and “Perl”), but they’re descriptive enough. There doesn’t seem to be a way to create your own themes.

The app seems to be originally written in German, so if (like several of our own writers) that’s a language you speak, you may find the text to be of higher quality. German and English are not the only available interface languages, though:

alternative windows console

The “I-NET ?” button offers an option I haven’t seen in other consoles. It lets you search any text you highlight using a search engine. So you can highlight a command or output you don’t know, and quickly look them up on the Web.

change windows console

Okay, I do know what “dir” does, but it’s a good example. I figured clicking the option would just Google the command for me, but was surprised to find myself in a different search engine altogether:

change windows console

While there is a “Google” button, this feature is obviously oriented at German-speaking users (like much of the application). That makes sense, but I wish there was a way to configure the engine used. This is a potentially handy feature, but the selection of engine makes it much more niche than it should be.

If you’re new to the command line and there are commands you tend to forget, you may find the Commands menu useful:

alternative console for windows

By default, it adds a list of common commands which most users probably know and often use (except for “tree” perhaps). But by clicking Add, you can edit this list and fill it with your own commands, including specific command line switches and other handy options. This can serve as a quick reference if you use a wide range of arcane commands.

Final Thoughts

ColorConsole is tiny (200KB), portable and free. Its English localization may do with a bit of improvement, and a few options wouldn’t hurt (such as customizing the search engine). Still, it’s an interesting experiment, and may make for a handy addition to your command-line toolkit. I could definitely see myself using it occasionally, if only for the HTML/RTF export options.al

  1. Ben elwoode
    August 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    love the idea of being able to store some of your favourite commands.

  2. Steve
    August 5, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    I would have assumed "Perl" is a pun on the Perl language rather than a typo... can't be sure though

  3. Jeffery Fabish
    August 5, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Yet another way to spoil Windows users on a task that is inherently supposed to be difficult (that is, communicating with the kernel). 

    You can do all of these tasks without a third party tool. 

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