The operating system of your computer can be interacted with in multiple ways. In most cases, users will use a graphical user interface (GUI), which makes it easier for them to complete tasks without having to understand how the operating system works. To perform different actions, you can click or point at the Windows and menus on graphical user interfaces. However, sometimes you may find that graphical user interfaces are not very useful when dealing with computers in more complex scenarios. The situation becomes even more critical when you need to automate tasks or run a series of commands repeatedly.
In these circumstances, using a command-line interface will help you get the job done much faster than with a GUI-based operating system. There are several different options available when it comes to using a command-line interface on Windows 11/10 computers. In this article, we cover three of them – PowerShell, Command Prompt, and Windows Terminal — explaining how they differ from each other and when they should be used.
Differences between Terminal, PowerShell, and Command Prompt
When you’re working with a computer, you’ll often find yourself in situations where you will have to access the command line. Many Windows users are accustomed to launching programs by typing their names into the Start menu search box, but using this method won’t help you use the command line. Instead, you’ll need a different method to access the command line when you need it. This article will give you an overview of three command-line interfaces and explain what makes them different and which one you should use. However, before we begin, let’s first take a look at what a command-line interface is.
What is a Command Line Interface?
The command Line Interface is a system of text-based instructions that is used for running applications, managing files, and interacting with the computer. These things may seem tedious to some, but they’re actually very important for your computer to operate efficiently. Each interface has its own special functions, and they allow you to interact with your computer. To provide you with a better understanding of these user interfaces, this guide will provide you with the details of each so you can decide which one is right for you. Read on to learn more about the terminal vs PowerShell vs Command Prompt difference explained.
What is Command Prompt?
Microsoft Windows computers come equipped with the Command Prompt which is one of the most powerful command-line editors. The software makes it easy to configure multiple similar tasks by copying and pasting complex commands without having to click through the options. Command Prompt is often referred to as the CMD, which lets you use scripts or batch files to automate various system-related tasks.
Read: Difference between Command Prompt and Windows PowerShell
What is PowerShell?
Windows PowerShell is another great Windows application that is capable of performing all the tasks that Command Prompt can. It incorporates the functionality of the old CMD program with a new scripting language, as well as system administration features. The PowerShell cmdlets offer administrators and users the ability to perform complex tasks with the help of reusable scripts. It is a powerful tool for system administrators and IT professionals that includes every cmdlet you could possibly need for administration, so there is no reason for you to use CMD anymore.
PowerShell is compatible with running batch files, like the command prompt. It is also capable of scheduling when tasks execute, which enables greater automation. Thus, you can plan tasks ahead and let PowerShell handle the rest while you are working on other things. In this way, you can plan out your PowerShell tasks in advance so you can focus on other tasks while PowerShell runs. The skills involved in PowerShell can be a distinct advantage for getting hired or even a requirement for jobs, so it’s worthwhile to learn.
Read: Windows PowerShell ISE vs Windows PowerShell: What is the difference?
What is Windows Terminal?
Windows Terminal is a powerful application that supports most command-line shells and was introduced with Windows 10. One of the most interesting aspects of the application is that it brings to Windows the command-line tool BASH (Bourne Again Shell), which was previously only available on Linux operating systems. Furthermore, Windows Terminal boasts a new tabbed interface capable of running multiple commands at the same time. The Unicode and UTF support in Windows Terminal allows you to use special characters and emojis from other languages. It supports GIFs and offers a variety of color schemes and background images as options for customizing the interface. Furthermore, the program includes the Cascadia-code font, allowing programmers to expand their horizons.
Read: How to use Windows Terminal in Windows.
Terminal vs PowerShell vs Command Prompt difference explained
Windows PowerShell, Command Prompt, and Terminal offer similar functionality as the dedicated tools. The way a command is executed in Windows PowerShell and within the Windows Terminal’s PowerShell window is the same. Similarly, executing a command in a dedicated CMD window works equally with running it at the Windows Terminal command prompt.
Among task-based command-line tools, PowerShell and Command Prompt are both useful for automating system administration tasks, but their functionalities and capabilities differ quite a bit. The Command Prompt shell is based on the same principles as DOS and was introduced along with Windows NT. PowerShell, on the other hand, is a task-based command-line shell and scripting language based on the .Net framework that is mainly used for batch processing and system management.
PowerShell and Command Prompt are both command-line tools that allow you to write scripts and batch files to perform a variety of system administration tasks. Both interfaces work differently even though it appears that the dir command operates the same way on either. As compared to PowerShell, the command prompt offers limited administrative capabilities, whereas PowerShell offers an advanced shell environment and more features. While PowerShell functions are more complex than those of the traditional Command Prompt, they are still quite powerful.
Here are a few reasons why PowerShell has an edge over Command Prompt. So while Microsoft has developed PowerShell as a way to improve CommandPrompt, why do we need Windows Terminal? Does Windows Terminal actually need to exist?
Windows Terminal is an open-source project that offers an intuitive tabbed user interface. The application supports multiple command-line processes in parallel. Thus, you can open multiple tabs at the same time, and execute PowerShell and Command Prompt commands simultaneously. The program also supports Unicode and UTF, which lets you insert emojis and other special characters. Furthermore, the app includes GIFs and configuration options, so you can play with different color schemes and backgrounds to customize it.
In its open-source nature, Windows Terminal is expected to continue developing indefinitely. A couple of years ago, Microsoft announced its support for BASH inside Windows, which allowed users to run Ubuntu and Terminal finally making that possible.
Read: What is Windows PowerShell, PowerShell, Azure Cloud Shell, Command Prompt in Windows Terminal
Terminal, PowerShell, and Command Prompt Interface
Terminal, PowerShell, and Command Prompt all have command-line interfaces, which let users use them easily and intuitively. If you look at the interface of these programs, you will find Command Prompt has the simplest interface. This will take you back to the early days of web pages when you could type commands into fields on black backgrounds with white fonts.
If we talk about the Windows terminal, the tabbed layout takes the experience to a whole new level. It allows you to open multiple tabs simultaneously so you can perform multiple tasks or projects at the same time. The application also has a settings menu that lets you customize the color scheme and other aspects of the application. The Microsoft Terminal user interface has been changed significantly, but this is not to say that PowerShell does not have its own advantages. PowerShell lets you apply certain colors to the final results which make it easier to understand the information.
Related Post: Windows Terminal Tips and Tricks.