Arcane Fun Fridays–Going Retro with PowerShell

In terms of the tech world I’m an old geezer. I actually remember the days of monochrome screens, both the amber and green kind. I even have my old Commodore 64 with its light blue font on dark blue background. So I was feeling a bit nostalgic, and decided to create some shortcuts to PowerShell windows with a retro look.

For pre Windows 8, in the start menu navigate to Start then go to your Accessories and/or Administrative tools (varies with which version of Windows you have). Find the icon for Windows PowerShell (not the ISE, just the regular window). (I figure if you are using PowerShell, you probably know where it is without me having to tell you.)

Right click on it, pick “Send To”, then “Desktop (create shortcut)”.

If you are on Windows 8, the simplest thing is to go to your start menu and locate Windows PowerShell. Pin it to your task bar. Now, desktop taskbar shift + right click (the shift is very important when you right click) and do the same Send To / Desktop I mention above.

OK, you now have a short cut, let’s start our retroization. First, give it a decent name. For my example I’ll pick “PS Amber”. Next, right click on it and pick Properties. In the dialog click on the Colors tab. Click on Screen Text, and set the Red / Green / Blue to 255, 185, 0 respectively.


Now, this is the part that will bring back the cool “retro” effect. If you are an old geezer like me, you’ll recall the amber monitors also had a big of an orangey background, they weren’t entirely black. Go to the Screen Background, and set its Red value to 32, then use 0 for Green and Blue. That will give it just the hint of orangeness to make it authentic. Of course based on your monitor calibration you may need to tweak it up or down just a tad, adjust until you are happy.

For the Pop-up text, I used the same settings as the Screen Background, and likewise for the Pop-up Background I used the same colors as the Screen Text. And here’s what I wound up with (click on it for a bigger image):


Following the same steps above, I created a second short cut called PS Green. I set its Screen Text to an RGB of 0, 255, 0, and the Screen Background to 0, 32, 0. Like with the previous section, I used the reverse colors for the pop ups, 0,255,0 for the background and 0, 32, 0 for the popup text.


And finally, the setting that made me wax eloquently over my beloved old Commodore 64:

Screen Text and Popup Background: 44 / 136 / 255

Screen Background and Popup Text: 0 / 0 / 34


(If you are too young to remember the Commodore 64, you can read more about it on Wikipedia or see it in action, there’s a slew of videos about it on youtube

Setting up different shortcuts to different color themes can not only make you feel nostalgic, but it can also be quite beneficial when you have multiple PowerShell windows open at the same time. The drastically different colors can make it easy to know which window you have doing what task.

Have fun with it, adjust the colors until they look just right on your own monitor, then create your own crazy color combos. If the are really good post them in the comments area. If I get enough I’ll create a follow up post, giving appropriate credit for each submission.


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