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How to change the color scheme in the new Windows Terminal

Reading Time: 4 min

Tags:  Windows


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.

1"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: 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.

 1// Add custom color schemes to this array
 2    "schemes": [{
 3                  "name": "Cobalt2",
 4                  "black": "#000000",
 5                  "red": "#ff0000",
 6                  "green": "#38de21",
 7                  "yellow": "#ffe50a",
 8                  "blue": "#1460d2",
 9                  "purple": "#ff005d",
10                  "cyan": "#00bbbb",
11                  "white": "#bbbbbb",
12                  "brightBlack": "#555555",
13                  "brightRed": "#f40e17",
14                  "brightGreen": "#3bd01d",
15                  "brightYellow": "#edc809",
16                  "brightBlue": "#5555ff",
17                  "brightPurple": "#ff55ff",
18                  "brightCyan": "#6ae3fa",
19                  "brightWhite": "#ffffff",
20                  "background": "#132738",
21                  "foreground": "#ffffff"
22                }
23            ],

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.

tip: 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.