Visual Studio recently got a new Developer PowerShell command prompt, which is super useful since it has all the environment variables properly set up to do things like msbuild from command line and have it pick the “right” MSBuild.

As a follow up to my post on Developer Command Prompt in Visual Studio Code Integrated Terminal, this is how you get the new powershell prompt in VS Code.

This time, however, I’ll add a twist: I recently learned that you can get PowerShell Core installed as a .NET Global Tool, which makes it super easy to install and run even on CI machines. You will want to get at least version 7.0.0 to get a key fix:

dotnet tool update -g --version 7.0.0 PowerShell

NOTE: yes, update will also install if it’s not installed. And it will ensure at least that version is installed. If you want to use this in CI, you will want to make sure the command never returns an error code by appending >nul || dotnet tool list -g, say.

NOTE2: you’ll need at least .NET Core 3.1 for that version of the powershell global tool to work.

Now that you have the pwsh dotnet global tool, let’s configure it for VS Code to use by default in a Windows terminal. Open File | Preferences | Settings and click the very undiscoverable Open Settings (JSON) icon at the top-right of your window, right next to the left of the Split Editor icon, and add the following lines:

    "": "${env:USERPROFILE}\\.dotnet\\tools\\pwsh.exe",
    "": [
        "\"&{ $installDir='C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Microsoft Visual Studio\\2019\\Preview'; Write-Host Using $installDir; Import-Module ($installDir + '\\Common7\\Tools\\Microsoft.VisualStudio.DevShell.dll'); Enter-VsDevShell -VsInstallPath $installDir}; Set-Location '${workspaceFolder}' \""
    "": null,

Things to note:

  1. You can access environment variables in your settings by just using ${env:}. .NET Core global tools live in that folder shown above
  2. The fancy looking Import-Module contains the install directory for your VS, so it will typically be ...\\2019\\[Enterprise|Professional|Communit|Preview], unless you customize it at install time.
  3. The last line resets the settings for automation shells (i.e. running tasks), so that we don’t interfere with them.

    Due to what seems to be a bug or limitation of the automation shell, you will also need (for now?) need to add the following to your tasks.json to force the default shell to not pick the settings shellArgs, for each individual task:

    “options”: {
             "shell": {
                 "executable": "C:\\WINDOWS\\System32\\cmd.exe",
                 "args": [ "/d", "/c" ]

Like in my previous post, I still find the following two settings useful, if you want the same cursor style and blinking in the terminal as in the editor:

    "terminal.integrated.cursorBlinking": true,
    "terminal.integrated.cursorStyle": "line",

Finally, the default Ctrl+K keybinding to clear the terminal window won’t work in cmd.exe, just rendering a useless ^K, so I also set it to Ctrl+Shift+K instead via the File | Preferences | Keyboard Shortcuts menu by adding the following:

        "key": "ctrl+shift+k",
        "command": "workbench.action.terminal.clear",
        "when": "terminalFocus"

See also Customizing Windows Terminal with Visual Studio tabs.