7 of the Best Terminal Emulators for Windows 10

For a long time Windows 10 hasn’t had a great command line interface. As a result, developers and system admins have installed third-party options to emulate Unix style and other kinds of consoles. And while it’s possible to get a bash shell inside Windows 10 now, many users still prefer a more configurable terminal emulator. Check out the best terminal emulators for Windows 10 below.

1. MobaXterm

Best Terminal Emulators Windows Mobaxterm

Rammed with robust features like X11 servers, a library of plugins, and even its own protocol clients, MobaXterm is a great server tool with myriad Terminal options for those who really want to dig deep (conversely, you may find it a bit bloated if you just want to do lighter Putty work, for example).

It lets you set up remote terminals in SSH, telnet, rlogin and Mosh, and has an intuitive interface that lets you set up multiple SSH taps, split terminals horizontally/vertically, among other quality-of-life features. Naturally, it has all the Unix commands you need too, letting you work much as you would in Linux.

There’s a limited free version of MobaXterm that lets you have up to 12 sessions, two SSH tunnels, and 4 macros (it also has a portable version). If you want the full package, you’ll need to pay $69 for a lifetime right-to-use which removes all the aforementioned limitations.

2. ZOC Terminal


One of the best tools for people needing to access data on Unix accounts from Windows, ZOC Terminal, may not be free ($79.99), but it’s still a great value for more advanced users.

One of its key perks are tabs, so you can have several Terminal sessions going on at once across SSH, telnet, QNX, and other terminals. It’s brimming with commands and is highly customizable to suit your personal terminal-tinkering style.

Its emulations are robust and complete, offering features like mouse and keyboard support, print-through and line graphics. And it’s a cinch to search for specific bits of text in your work, then highlight them.

3. cmder


cmder is a well-known portable terminal emulator for Windows 10 that was built from the “pure frustration” caused by the lack of a good alternative in Windows. It’s built on top of another well-known console emulator, ConEmu, and enhanced with Clink. Clink extends the power of ConEmu, adding shell features like bash-style completion. It’s broadly compatible, working with msysgit, PowerShell, cygwin and mintty, bringing Unix capabilities to Windows.

Since it’s completely portable, you can run cmder off a USB drive that you use on various machines without installing files on local hard drives, making it a support specialist’s best friend. As a bonus, it ships with the much-loved Monokai color scheme to coordinate your hacking with Sublime Text.

4. ConEmu


ConEmu is a Windows console emulator with tabs, multiple windows and a variety of customization options. Its lineage reaches way back in history: ConEmu was initially created as a companion to Far Manager, a file and archive manager released for Windows in 1996. But despite its age, the software is continuously developed.

The emulator provides a deep menu of settings to tweak and hotkeys to assign, drawing in keyboard warriors from Vim and Emacs. ConEmu in compatible with many of the same popular shells as cmder, like cmd.exe, PowerShell, cygwin, PuTTY and others. If you install a DOS emulator like DosBox, you can run DOS applications in a 64-bit environment. But because ConEmu isn’t a shell, it doesn’t include helpful shell features like remote connections and tab completion. While it retains many die-hard fans, ConEmu might not be the best console emulator for new users.

5. Console


Console is a terminal emulator and console enhancement for Windows 10 that focuses on direct use and simple interaction. It provides full command-line capabilities, and its straight-forward design hides a significant degree of power and customization. It integrates with all the major shells and lets you customize window styles, transparency, fonts and text colors. But Console isn’t as all-spanning as ConEmu, so very advanced users might find themselves limited by the software.

6. Babun


Babun comes with bash and zsh out of the box, providing tools that both beginner and advanced users can use immediately. It’s built on top of Cygwin, porting a Unix-style interface to Windows 10. You can use oh-my-zsh to configure zsh’s wide variety of options, giving you greater control over your shell’s functionality that you’ll get in other applications. It also includes the pact package manager and HTTP proxying out the box.

7. Mintty


If you only use Cygwin for your Windows shell, then Mintty is an excellent console emulator. In fact, Mintty is installed as the default terminal emulator. Like the other options on this list, Mintty provides a collection of additional features like drag-and-drop, full screen, copy and paste and theme support. And it also works with MSYS and Msys2.


Cmder is probably the best bet for users looking for a capable but manageable terminal emulator. Users seeking a more powerful experience can get their fix with ConEmu or splash out a bit more for ZOC Terminal.

This article was first published in August 2017 and was updated in June 2019.

Alexander Fox Alexander Fox

Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.


  1. I’m wondering when the term “terminal emulator” changed its meaning. The applications in this article are all local console applications.

    A terminal (like in your first picture) used to be a device that posed as a keyboard/screen to control a remote computer, where a terminal directly connected to a host is a special case and was called the (master) console.

    A terminal-emulator is a software that acts as a terminal, i.e. a software that connects to a remote computer and acts like a terminal.

    This is the reason, btw, why ConEmu is called ConEmu (it emulates a local console).

    1. It is really confusing, i searched for a terminal emulators for a remote connection and I got this page. Took me a while before realizing the difference.

      1. Actually, you’re wrong. The first one on the list, ZOC, actually is a terminal emulator and a fairly decent one…I’ve been using it for years, first on Windows and now on macOS. The remainder of the list are replacements for ‘cmd.exe’ (or whatever it’s called on releases since Windows XP), the Command Line Interpreter for Windows, offering enhanced functionality.

      2. Yes, the first one (ZOC) is an actual terminal emulator. I’ve used it for maybe 20 years with great success. Still finding new ways to use it and the huge number of features provided. It’s really one of those Don’t-leave-home-without-it applications.

  2. I have been using 4dos since 1992. jpsoft.com has updated it to its current take command. There is even a free version called tccle (take command console light edition).

  3. A minor point.
    “(MobaXterm)…Rammed with robust features ”
    Shouldn’t that be “CRAMMED with features”? :-)

    For years Microsoft, tech writers and pundits have been using CLI as big negative against Linux and yet here you are extolling the virtues of 7 terminal emulators for Win 10. Isn’t that a bit of a double standard???

  4. Correction regarding MobaXterm pricing, the $69 is a yearly subscription price, not a lifetime right-to-use license. I have been using it (and paying yearly) for years, am I am a very satisfied customer. The client supports almost every remote client protocol in existence in a single executable. The free version supports most of the features included in the paid version. That’s impressive.

  5. You missed the best one of all! Bitvise’s wonderful, free SSH client. It also does port tunneling and is chock full of advanced features. https://www.bitvise.com/

  6. You also missed Vandyke Software’s seminal SecureCRT, which I used for twenty years until switching to Bitvise a couple of years ago. It’s also quite nice and full of advanced features. It requires a paid license, however. https://secure.vandyke.com/vandyke-bin/download_form.cgi?PRODUCT=SecureCRT

  7. I am the author of the IVT terminal emulator, which has it’s own (smallish but faithful) fan base. I think it deserves its spot on this list. Today I heard that many people find a terminal emulator by typing “best terminal for windows”, and end up on this page. Not being listed on such a page means not being noticed. But IVT has more features than Zoc or MobaX, is a true ssh/telnet/rlogin terminal emulator, with auto-login, tabs, scripting, etc. etc. It has been around for going on 30 years.
    I usually describe it as “Putty++”.
    Don’t take my word for it, type “ivt vt220” in your favorite search engine, download a free full-featured evaluation copy and buy it (only 15 euros for a liftetime of use) if you like it.

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