How to change the color scheme in the new Windows Terminal

The color scheme in Windows Terminal can be changed from the GUI or by editing a JSON configuration file named settings.json.

Choose a built-in Color Scheme

Select Settings from the dropdown menu or press Ctrl+,

Windows Terminal Menu

Click on Defaults from the Profiles section.

Go to the Appearance section on the right and choose the Color scheme from the drop-down list.

Click Save

If you want different Color Schemes for different shells, click on the shell in question instead of Defaults.

Why is my Color Scheme change not working?

A lot of users seem to be choosing the Color Schemes option instead of the Profiles option. The Color Schemes option is for customizing the colors of a theme and not for choosing a theme. Choose the default profile or one of the specific profiles as explained above. If you are choosing the correct option and it still does not work, please try the non-GUI option below. Windows Terminal sometimes develops UI glitches that prevent the settings from saving properly.

Choose a Color Scheme by editing the Settings file (for older versions)

If you are still using an older version of the Terminal you may have to edit a JSON file to change the color scheme. To open the file click the Open JSON file option from the left pane. Editing the file should be fairly straightforward, but if you are unfamiliar with JSON, it might be a good idea to create a backup first.  The file can be found in %LocalAppData%\Packages\Microsoft.WindowsTerminal_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalState.

In settings.json, look for the defaults object inside profiles. Copy and paste the following key-value pair inside the defaults object; change the Color scheme name as required.

"colorScheme": "One Half Dark"

colorscheme property added to profiles.json

If some other key-value pair is already in there, you have to put a comma after it. In the image, notice the comma after "fontFace" : "Cascadia Code"

You can also change color schemes on a per profile basis using the same method.

Add and choose a third-party Color scheme

Many Windows Terminal themes are available on the internet, for example here: https://github.com/mbadolato/iTerm2-Color-Schemes/tree/master/windowsterminal. Let us see how to add such Color schemes to your settings.

Step 1:

Choose a Color scheme, screenshots for the above Color scheme collection are here.

Step 2:

Open the settings.json file. Go to Settings (see above) and choose the Open JSON File option from the left pane.

Step 3:

Copy the whole code for your chosen Color scheme including the braces and paste it inside the schemes array.

// Add custom color schemes to this array
    "schemes": [{
                  "name": "Cobalt2",
                  "black": "#000000",
                  "red": "#ff0000",
                  "green": "#38de21",
                  "yellow": "#ffe50a",
                  "blue": "#1460d2",
                  "purple": "#ff005d",
                  "cyan": "#00bbbb",
                  "white": "#bbbbbb",
                  "brightBlack": "#555555",
                  "brightRed": "#f40e17",
                  "brightGreen": "#3bd01d",
                  "brightYellow": "#edc809",
                  "brightBlue": "#5555ff",
                  "brightPurple": "#ff55ff",
                  "brightCyan": "#6ae3fa",
                  "brightWhite": "#ffffff",
                  "background": "#132738",
                  "foreground": "#ffffff"
                }
            ],

This adds the chosen theme, Cobalt2 in this example, to our schemes list. You can add more than one theme, they must be separated by commas.

Step 4:

The steps for choosing a color scheme are the same for user-defined color schemes and default color schemes.  Please refer to the Choose a built-in Color scheme section.

Change select colors from a color scheme

It is possible to change only some of the colors from a Color scheme. This can be done by editing settings.json.  As an example let us change the background color of the One Half Dark theme.

Windows Terminal now has an easy GUI option to customize a Color Scheme. Go to Settings ➾ Color Scheme. This option is not working for me presently but you could give it a try since it is easier.

Steps:

  • Open settings.json. Settings ➾ Open JSON file.
  • Search for the Color Scheme in settings.json. In our example, One Half Dark.
  • Change the background color to a color of your choice.

2 thoughts on “How to change the color scheme in the new Windows Terminal”

  1. Ok, I see how you modified the background color for ‘One Half Dark’.
    But there must be dozens of other text elements besides the background color.
    I still have no clue about how to change the color of other elements.
    For example:
    I need a good color scheme for Julia, preferably with a light background,
    but when I tried ‘Tango Light’ more than half of Julia error messages were so light (on a light background) that they were very nearly invisible. I have no idea how to change
    the color of a specific type of text element that needs to be changed.

    1. Error messages are supposed to be brightRed in Tango Light. Most light schemes have some problem or other in Windows Terminal. Fixing it might require a bit of work. Try to figure out which color you are seeing and redefine it to something else.
      {
      “name”: “Tango Light”,
      “brightYellow”: “#999900”,
      }
      This redefines brightYellow to a very dark shade of yellow.
      This method will not work if the scheme has already redefined the color to something totally different. Then you will have to find the color by their hex value.

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