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How to change Command Prompt's color scheme on Windows 10

Alongside the slew of new features and improvements included with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, the Windows Console (Command Prompt) is getting a color overhaul update after 20 years.

In this updated version of Command Prompt, Microsoft is changing the default color values to improve the text legibility on modern high-contrast monitors. Also, it's now possible to customize the console with an entirely new color scheme for a more modern look and feel.

The only caveat is that you'll only see the new colors if you are running a clean installation of Windows 10. If you're using an upgrade, to preserve your old settings, the legacy colors will be applied instead. However, Microsoft has released a tool to install the new color scheme along with many others to personalize your experience.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to customize Command Prompt with a new color scheme, and we even tell you how to get more schemes from the web.

How to change the color scheme of Command Prompt

  1. Download the Microsoft Color Tool from GitHub (click the colortool.zip link to get the tool).
  2. Unzip the content of the colortool.zip compressed file. (If you need help, use this guide to extract all the files.)
  3. Open Start.
  4. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the result, and click Run as administrator.
  5. Type the following command to navigate to the folder that contains the Color Tool executable and press Enter:cd c:\path\to\colortoolIn the above command, make sure to change c:\path\to\colortool with the path to the folder where you extract the "colortool" folder.
  6. Type the following command to change the Command Prompt color scheme and press Enter:colortool -b scheme-nameIn the above command, make sure to change scheme-name with the name of the color scheme you want to use. You can figure out the name of the colors available in the "schemes" folder inside the "colortool" folder. For example, the current release, includes eight different schemes:
    • campbell.ini
    • campbell-legacy.ini
    • cmd-legacy.ini
    • deuternopia.itermcolors
    • OneHalfDark.itermcolors
    • OneHalfLight.itermcolors
    • solarized_dark.itermcolors
    • solarized_light.itermcolors
    The -b switch is optional, but it makes the scheme you choose the system default. Otherwise, you'll only see the new colors when opening the Windows Console using the Start menu or Run command.

  1. Right-click Command Prompt's title bar, and click Properties.

  1. In the "Properties" section, you don't need to change any settings; you simply need to click OK to apply the changes.

Once you've completed the steps, restart Command Prompt to start using the console with the new color scheme.

At any time, if you want to go back to the new default color settings, you can apply the campbell scheme, or use the cmd-campbell scheme to go back to the legacy colors.

How to get even more color schemes for Command Prompt

Although the Color Tool includes a few color schemes, it's possible to use many other colors using .itermcolors scheme files, which you can find on the internet.

The one that Microsoft recommends is the iTerm2 Color Schemes, which is an open project found in GitHub that offers more than 150 color schemes that you can use with Command Prompt.

If you want to use these schemes, do the following.

  1. Download iTerm2-Color-Schemes from GitHub (click the green Clone or download button and select Desktop ZIP).
  2. Unzip the content of the iTerm2-Color-Schemes.zip compressed file. (If you need help, use this guide to extract all the files from a zip file.)
  3. Open the schemes folder inside the iTerm2-Color-Schemes uncompressed folder.
  4. Select everything inside schemes folder (Ctrl + A) and copy the content (Ctrl + C).

  1. Open the schemes folder inside the colortool folder and paste the files (Ctrl + V).

After completing the steps, use the steps to use Color Tool to apply a new color scheme, including Batman, Darkside, Atom, C64, FirefoxDev, and many others.

Which color scheme did you choose for your installation? Tell us in the comments.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

22 Comments
  • Oh, good grief.  Why?
  • Maybe because it's been a long time since we've used monochrome monitors. Other color schemes can be much easier on the eyes for those that work in command prompt often. Windows has been adding customization for many years, so why NOT here. The only 'good grief' is why you feel the need to complain about an added feature.
  • Linux people change their Terminal/BASH command prompt colors all the time. It's common for server admins and Windows users alike to customize when dealing with commands. It causes crazy-big eye strain on some.
  • That's pretty cool. Not sure if this is something that would be covered at Windows Central, but I'd love a similar tutorial to manage the color scheme of the Ubuntu shell for Windows 10.
  • Read the man pages, duh!
    /S Sorry, was just parroting my experience with the Linux community back in the day. Part of the reason I renounced Linux and became a Microsoft die-hard. 
  • If you're talking about Ubuntu on Windows (WSL), it is not possible yet. The colors palette used is defined within the console, and APIs to modify it are currently only available to Win32 apps.
    Linux apps running within the Windows console can use 256 colors or RGB colors, but they cannot modify the base 16 colors palette.
    As a workaround, a Win32 console app can be used from Ubuntu to set the palette. Future releases of Windows might include support for setting them directly from Linux apps (See https://github.com/Microsoft/WSL/issues/2566 for details).
     
  • I second scuba....why?! The command prompt color should remain black background with white texts just to continue make it unique and distinguishable on your full color screen not to mention that getting these colors isn't easy...
    A better article would be "how to change the Fie Explorer folder color."
  • Wait so black background with white text makes it unique? With the ability to have that exact set up in multiple programs, what would then make it unique? Further why does it have to be unique?
  • CMD is now host to CMD, PowerShell and Bash. Bash supports 24-bit colour consoles, so CMD does now as well.
  • Technically, CMD is just the NT version of the legacy Command.com shell, it is a CUI app and does not handle the console window.
    The console window host is a separate component named conhost. ConHost is the NT console used by CMD, PowerShell, and any other NT CUI app, as well as TTYs for Linux instances in LXSS.
  • If you want it black bg and white text then leave it that way. These are called "options" because they are optional (ie.. not mandatory).
  • I have set my own colors for the command prompt since... NT4? Not sure. You can do that with a mouse and what's built into Windows in just a few clicks. You just go into properties and set the text and background colors. This will live across all sessions if you set it for the Default. I have used a dark blue background with gray or yellow text or black background with amber text. I'm slowly trying to ween myself from Command Prompt in favor of Powershell, which already uses colors better, but some commands remain faster to execute in the Command Prompt than in Powershell.
  • You've been stuck with 8 bit colour. WFCU ups that to 24-bit colour, to be on par with the bash shell. 
  • I've been setting the colors for the command prompt for years and years.  My eyes seem to like Amber text on a black screen.  In Windows XP, I often used the MakeMeAdmin and the text was Red so that it was obvious it had different privileges.  Every once in a while, I might have multiple command prompts going, so I'll set different colors so that I can easily remember what I'm doing with each.
  • This feature has been in DOS since the beginning of time. If you had Ansi.sys in your config.sys file, you could put color commands in your PROMPT statement. Like: prompt &e[32;40m&p&g would have a green on black C:\> prompt. Replace & with dollar sign, can't type them in comments here. And i thought the brain cells storing this obscure info would be wasted forever.
  • You've got a lot more colours to remember now.  A 24-bit number of colours to remember.
  • Conhost now also supports 256 colors and RGB (24-bit) colors.
    \e[38;5;(index)m will let you set the foreground color (use 48 instead of 38 for background color) to a 0-255 index in the 256 colors palette.
    Similarly, \e[38;2;(r);(g);(b)m will let you set the foreground (again, 48 for background) to any RGB color, with each component being 0-255. Here's a list of available colors: https://1drv.ms/i/s!AlZktIY-OxNHposvlAfh7BOV8CehDA
  • Cool, maybe we can get sane highlight/copy/paste like normal terminals.
  • Use PowerShell. It supports that. You can't get ctrl+c and ctrl+v as copy & paste in the classic command window because those keys were used for other things in the command prompt days and cannot be changed without breaking tons of things. It could be worse, it could be like Unix with highlight alone replacing the clipboard buffer and middle mouse button as paste.
  • nice information. https://techprompts.com/windows-application-linux/
  • lol, finally an article for the nerdiest of people haha.
  • Saw a bunch of traffic come to my iTerm2 Color Schemes repo over the last few days and followed the link back here. Thanks much for the mention! If anyone comes up with their own schemes and would like them included, please sent me a PR via GitHub!