Bring Your Own Shell (Update 1.9 for VS Code)

I received the recent update for VS Code with pleasant surprises for the Integrated Terminal! Most importantly, it now defaults to Powershell. This can be changed using VS Code settings. This ability is not necessarily a new option within VS Code but, if you rather your own shell, then here we go!

Accessing Settings

To access VS Code settings, use the menu under File > Preferences and click Settings. A settings.json file opens with a list of Default Settings. These can be copied to your workspace or user settings.

With the Settings open, finding settings is easy – just type the setting name (or scroll) as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Looking for ‘shell’ commands in settings.json

Bring Your Own Shell

According to VS Code Documentation, a different shell executable can be used given that it adheres to this very important requirement:

..the shell executable must be a console application so that stdin/stdout/stderr can be redirected..

This offers a lot of flexibility to support your given scenario and preferences. Update the shell using the format: “”: “full path to shell executable”. For example, when specifying the setting for Windows this would be similar to:


Shell Arguments

Arguments can be passed to this executable using the following format: “terminal.integrated.shellArgs.platform”: [“arg1”, …]. Specifying the setting for Windows would be similar to:

"": ["Get-Help", "*"]


"": ["Get-Help *"]

With those sample arguments, the terminal window will close after the help text displays for Powershell. While that is less than useful, the settings are there for your benefit. Choose the shell you want within VS Code and configure it accordingly. Of course, make sure you first have it installed.


I’m sure you all noticed the “platform” placeholder within the setting formats. Currently the platforms for terminal settings specified within VS Code are:

  • linux
  • osx
  • windows

VS Code is awesome, what do you think? I am eager to hear of your experiences using Visual Studio Code!

Thankful for Integrated Terminals in Visual Studio Code

Since before I started my software development career, I have been using Visual Studio. It is a beast-mode IDE with tons of heavy-weight features and a bountiful supply of extensions. Don’t get me wrong, Visual Studio is near and dear. It has been the key to successful delivery of many kinds of projects. Since Visual Studio was so useful, I honestly wondered why Visual Studio Code was even created. After using it though, my thoughts changed from “why?” to “this is amazing!”

To be able to view everything on a single screen is hard to do – some would say unnecessary or even Noise. One of the great thing about VS Code is that it accomplishes the two feats of allowing a developer to quickly discover what they need during development without needing to wade through the noise. This is done by a simple tab-like interface including Explorer, Search, Git, Debug, and Extensions. The best part about this is the Integrated Terminal. It is very simple to get started, easily accessible, and easily ignored.

Integrated Terminals


My primary use for VS Code is front-end development. VS Code offers great tooling for creating high-quality user interfaces using the latest frameworks such as Angular 2 and React. Full-stack development can be done at once with a single language (JavaScript). With Integrated Terminals, Node.js operations can be performed quickly and easily.

With Extensions offering further integration, I find VS Code especially useful when developing with Node. Its Integrated Terminals allow an easy way of managing Node operations. When developing a MEAN stack application, each tier can get its own terminal for operations specific to that tier.

Dedicated terminals per tier is also beneficial because certain operations are long-running such as running MongoDB, Node and Angular. I tend to create a terminal per long-running operation. VSC makes it very easy to get these started – and to ignore them when they are not appropriate for the current task. For example, I can ignore the DB and Services when styling an Angular 2 component while still maintaining the benefit of them running so I can quickly test my work.

When writing front-end code, I would definitely consider Visual Studio Code.


  • Ctrl+`
    • Toggle Integrated Terminal Panel
  • Ctrl+Shift+`
    • Create New Integrated Terminal Instance
  • Ctrl+Shift+P
    • Begin searching the Command Palette

User Interface


Interact with Integrated Terminals like you would a Command Prompt. Multiple instances can be created while being accessible by simply making a selection from the drop-down. From the small toolbar, instances can be removed, more instances can be created, and the down-arrow closes the entire panel.

and to close,