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Mike Griese @zadjii-msft

Using the wt.exe Commandline

As of #4023, the Windows Terminal now supports accepting arguments on the commandline, to enable launching the Terminal in a non-default configuration. This document serves as a reference for all the parameters you can currently pass, and gives some examples of how to use the wt commandline.

NOTE: If you're running the Terminal built straight from the repo, you'll need to use wtd.exe and wtd instead of wt.exe and wt.

  1. Commandline Reference
  2. Commandline Examples




Display the help message.



new-tab [terminal_parameters]

Opens a new tab with the given customizations. On its first invocation, also opens a new window. Subsequent new-tab commands will all open new tabs in the same window.



split-pane [--target,-t target-pane] [-H]|[-V] [terminal_parameters]

Creates a new pane in the currently focused tab by splitting the given pane vertically or horizontally.


  • --target,-t target-pane: Creates a new split in the given target-pane. Each pane has a unique index (per-tab) which can be used to identify them. These indicies are assigned in the order the panes were created. If omitted, defaults to the index of the currently focused pane.
  • -H, -V: Used to indicate which direction to split the pane. -V is "vertically" (think [|]), and -H is "horizontally" (think [-]). If omitted, defaults to "auto", which splits the current pane in whatever the larger dimension is. If both -H and -V are provided, defaults to vertical.
  • [terminal_parameters]: See [terminal_parameters].


focus-tab [--target,-t tab-index]|[--next,-n]|[--previous,-p]

Moves focus to a given tab.


  • --target,-t tab-index: moves focus to the tab at index tab-index. If omitted, defaults to 0 (the first tab). Will display an error if combined with either of --next or --previous.
  • -n,--next: Move focus to the next tab. Will display an error if combined with either of --previous or --target.
  • -p,--previous: Move focus to the previous tab. Will display an error if combined with either of --next or --target.


Some of the preceding commands are used to create a new terminal instance. These commands are listed above as accepting [terminal_parameters] as a parameter. For these commands, [terminal_parameters] can be any of the following:

[--profile,-p profile-name] [--startingDirectory,-d starting-directory] [commandline]

  • --profile,-p profile-name: Use the given profile to open the new tab/pane, where profile-name is the name or guid of a profile. If profile-name does not match any profiles, uses the default.
  • --startingDirectory,-d starting-directory: Overrides the value of startingDirectory of the specified profile, to start in starting-directory instead.
  • commandline: A commandline to replace the default commandline of the selected profile. If the user wants to use a ; in this commandline, it should be escaped as \;.


Open Windows Terminal in the current directory

wt -d .

This will launch a new Windows Terminal window in the current working directory. It will use your default profile, but instead of using the startingDirectory property from that it will use the current path. This is especially useful for launching the Windows Terminal in a directory you currently have open in an explorer.exe window.

Opening with multiple panes

If you want to open with multiple panes in the same tab all at once, you can use the split-pane command to create new panes.

Consider the following commandline:

wt ; split-pane -p "Windows PowerShell" ; split-pane -H wsl.exe

This creates a new Windows Terminal window with one tab, and 3 panes:

  • wt: Creates the new tab with the default profile
  • split-pane -p "Windows PowerShell": This will create a new pane, split from the parent with the default profile. This pane will open with the "Windows PowerShell" profile
  • split-pane -H wsl.exe: This will create a third pane, slit horizontally from the "Windows PowerShell" pane. It will be running the default profile, and will use wsl.exe as the commandline (instead of the default profile's commandline).
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