Getting a terminal for windows (cmder)

cmder logo
cmder (commander)

Before we proceed with this blog article, I would want to inform you that there is a video about this article on Codetopia’s YouTube channel. You can watch it or read this post or preferably do both.

What is a terminal?

From experience, I can tell that about 90% of learners who begin their way into the development world or into computing often know nothing about the terminal and often get confused when anything about it is mentioned. What is the terminal? one may ask. The terminal is actually an interface where instructions known as commands could be given to the computer to carry out. Unlike the normal GUI (Graphical User Interface) where the mouse is used to click buttons and other graphical elements in order to issue commands, we have another interface called the CLI (short for Command-Line Interface) of which the terminal happens to fall under, and it is through the terminal that commands are written to give out a task. Let us take for instance, a shutdown operation. Using the normal way, a user would click a few buttons in order to achieve that. That same task (shutdown) could be carried out with the terminal but within a short amount of time. Since this tutorial is actually not dedicated to the deep stuffs about the terminal, we’ll not go deep into it. But below is just a glance of what a linux terminal looks like.

For the unix and linux users, a terminal is no news because most of the operations on these operating systems require the use of terminals. But for some windows users, it’s a big pool of confusion and fear. Windows terminals have proven to be insufficient as it is very inefficient and slow in accomplishing some computational and development task. But in recent times, developers have contributed to developing terminal tools to aid windows users and developers complete their computational and development task with ease. So lets get straight into it. We’ll not be using windows’ default terminal (command prompt) but a terminal tool called cmder (commander). But first We’ll need to install it. Cmder is a software package created out of pure frustration over the absence of nice and efficient console emulators on Windows. It is based on amazing software, and spiced up with the Monokai color scheme and a custom prompt layout, looking sexy from the start. Follow the instructions below to install Cmder.

  1. Go to this link -> https://cmder.net/ and scroll down till you see something like the picture below
cmder download page
cmder download page

N.B : There are two options to download from namely the Mini and Full. If you choose the Mini, you would have limited features and would have to install git with cmder manually (don’t worry, will show you how very soon). But if you choose the full setup with git, then you don’t need to install git again. In this case it is recommended to go in for the full version.

After hitting the download button, Wait for it to finish downloading

2. After downloading, you have to extract the zipped file into the Program Files directory in your local C drive.

If you don’t have an extraction tool or software for the extraction, I recommend winrar

Before you extract the files into your Program Files, you first have to create a new folder in the Program Files directory. Let’s do that together.

  • First open a new File explorer
  • click on This PC located on the left pane of your file explorer
This PC
This PC
click on This PC
  • Double click on Local Disk (C:) to open it
Local Disk (C:)
Local Disk (C:)
Local Disk (C:)
  • locate Program Files and launch it (it’s just Program Files not Program Files (x86))
Program Files
Program Files
program files

After opening the Program Files directory, create a new folder

you can create a new folder by simply using the shortcut ctrl+shift+n or using the GUI way which is right clicking on an empty space in the directory (folder), selecting new and then folder. Grant administrative permissions if you are being asked by your computer by clicking yes, continue or ok.

new folder in program files
new folder in program files
new folder in program files
  • Now rename that folder to any name you want. But due to practical reasons, I recommend you name it commander

To rename a folder, you have to right click on that folder and choose rename from the pop-up menu. After selecting rename, type the name you want to give to your folder and press enter

commander folder
commander folder
commander folder

Now that we are done creating our folder in the Program Files directory, lets resume from step 2 and continue with the next step.

3. Locate the cmder downloaded zip file. (Which should be in your downloads directory or folder.)

cmder zip downloaded file
cmder zip downloaded file
cmder zipped file

4. After locating your zipped file, right click on it and select extract files (if you have winrar installed)

extracting file

5. After clicking on extract files, in the pop-up dialog box, double click on local Disk (C:)

Local Disk (C:)
Local Disk (C:)
local Disk (C:)

6. From the expanded menu double click on Program Files

Program Files
Program Files
program files

7. From the expanded menu, now select the commander folder we created

commander folder
commander folder
commander folder

And click on OK.

final process of extraction
final process of extraction
click on OK

And wait while winrar extracts the zipped file into the commander folder

extraction in progress
extraction in progress
extraction in progress

8. After the extraction, go to the commander folder, open it and launch cmder as an administrator

To launch as an administrator, right click on the cmder icon and select Run as administrator

launch cmder as an admin

After launching cmder as an administrator, cmder will run a few script and that will be all

cmder running scripts
cmder running scripts
cmder terminal

Finally we now have a very powerful and cool terminal on our windows computer that we can use to perform command-line tasks.

You might want to do this.

Some of you might realize that after you install cmder and try to find it by searching it name in your windows search box, it’s nowhere to be found on your windows.

windows search box
windows search box

It is on your windows alright but you just have to do a couple of configurations to make it searchable. Like editing your environment variables or pinning it to your start menu. The formal is quite complicated for beginners so we will focus on the latter. To make cmder searchable on your windows, just follow these simple steps to get it done

  • Navigate to the commander folder which contains the extracted cmder files and launch it (which is located in your Program Files directory which is also located in your C local disk)
  • After launching it, locate and right click on the cmder icon
right click on the cmder icon
right click on the cmder icon
right click on the cmder icon
  • click on Pin to Start from the pop-up menu
  • Now go to your start menu and you will now find cmder in there
cmder on start menu
cmder on start menu
cmder on start menu

Good job! Cmder is now searchable on your windows. You can confirm that by doing a quick search in your windows search box

search cmder
search cmder
searching cmder in windows search box

BONUS ROUND.

The cmder terminal also has some cool settings that you can play around with. You can alter changes to the font, the color scheme, font family, font style etc. To access these settings, you have to right click on either the top-most or bottom section of your terminal and click on settings.

cmder terminal settings

In the pop-up dialog box, you can make a couple of changes and select “save settings” after you are done.

Since we are not focusing on altering changes to cmder in this blog post, we won’t dive further. But you can make your own changes to suit your taste and preference.

:-) Good luck on your new journey with your cool windows terminal

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