In Windows XP, when you make a change to the console settings (not just for the command-prompt, but all console apps), eg dimensions, colors, fonts, etc., it asks if you want to make the changes permanent, or only for that instance. This is quite useful because sometimes you only want to change it for that one instance, not forever.

In Windows 7, it seems like making a change always makes it permanent. (Note, I’m talking about the Properties menu item, not the Defaults menu item, hence the problem.)

Is there a way/setting to get Windows 7 to behave like XP in the this respect?

  • Interesting. It changes the current instance, but then all new instances inherit the new properties.
    – ChrisF
    Aug 14, 2011 at 18:09
  • 3
    Yup; it’s like the Properties option is equal to the Defaults option (and there is no prompt either way).
    – Synetech
    Aug 14, 2011 at 18:10
  • Think you found a new bug! Call the mayor to shine the Microsoft flag in the sky... Mar 6, 2014 at 20:58

2 Answers 2


I'm sure someone at MS thought the old way (from NT onwards) was confusing for people so they removed it. Just like you I used it also and I liked the idea. But oh well!

Here's how you get the same functionality.

Make a new shortcut in a folder of your choice. The command line of the folder is cmd.exe. Run it and then change the properties. The properties will be saved in the shortcut.
If you want different saved properties, make another shortcut and if it's in the same folder, just name it different from the first shortcut and the it will also save its properties the same way.

If you run cmd.exe directly from the "Run" box, it will have windows default properties.

@Syntech brought up an interesting point that deserves further clarification.
Command console control menu Default menu option on the console menu for Windows Vista and higher doesn't directly affect the current session. Contrary to the link it actually seems to only apply to console windows that are not cmd.exe. Why, because once you set the "Properties" of "c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe" titled window, those become the ongoing "default" of all future windows opened that have the same title (i.e. ...cmd.exe ) and they no longer look at the "Default" "console" property values. If you make shortcuts, like I've explained above, you will benefit from each shortcut "remembering" its settings for each session on every launch.

From Windows NT to XP the behavior was different. And that is the behavior the original question was referring to. In XP and older, when you change the properties, you are prompted to choose as shown below. The original question poster is missing, just as I am, the "Apply properties to current window only" option.
Console window properties change in XP

Since we're missing that option, the workaround I suggest is to make a "temporary" shortcut to cmd.exe and keep a backup. Change it as much as you like and restore from backup as often as you need.



  • I'm sure someone at MS thought the old way was confusing for people so they removed it. You mean how there was a menu-item to alter the current console and a separate one to alter the default console, or how Windows would specifically ask if you want to modify only that window or apply the change permanently? Both seem perfectly reasonable, rational, and clear to me. In fact, it is much more confusing now that both the Properties and Defaults menu-entries do the same thing. It’s redundant and pointless. …But oh well! That kind of defeatist attitude prevents change and progress. :-P
    – Synetech
    Mar 13, 2014 at 3:41
  • @Syntech about the "oh well" .. I was attempting to say something else but.... oh well! ;-) I'll clarify the rest in the answer itself.
    – LMSingh
    Mar 13, 2014 at 6:52

Actually, if you change settings through the Properties menu item in the Command Prompt window, it doesn't affect all instances and the Defaults and Properties dialogs have two distinct goals.


The Defaults dialog allows you to set the configuration common to all instances of the Command Prompt.

It includes at least one feature that is not available in the Properties dialog, the ability to enable and disable AutoComplete.


The Properties dialog allows you to set the configuration for the shortcut that started that instance of Command Prompt.

The changes you make in this dialog override the settings made through the Defaults dialog. The settings can also be accessed directly through the properties of the shortcut:

enter image description here

So far, so good, but this was never really the question. So, how do you make temporary changes to just that single open instance?

I guess, you can't. The best I could come up with was starting a temporary instance with start cmd and adjusting the properties for that one, which doesn't seem to affect any other shortcut.

  • 1
    Obviously you missed the obvious step of running start cmd again because the second window does take on the properties you just set; which makes sense because HKCU\Console\%SystemRoot%_system32_cmd.exe is modified when you do what you suggested, so in fact, all default consoles launched take on the new properties. The reason it didn’t affect your other shortcuts is because those are shortcuts so making a change only affects the shortcut file. If you Runcmd for example, the console will be modified.
    – Synetech
    Mar 31, 2014 at 15:58
  • @Synetech: Hah, indeed. In that case it's back to color and mode, I guess ;P Mar 31, 2014 at 16:23
  • The most annoying part is that they have two separate menu items: Properties and Defaults that do the same thing. I’ve tried filing bug-reports for Windows before but they make it hard and ignore them anyway. :-(
    – Synetech
    Mar 31, 2014 at 16:58
  • @Synetech Funny story though. Because I always use a shortcut, pinned to the taskbar, to start a console instance, I never realized how to properly affect all instances. Now it works great (green text everywhere, weeeee). Apr 1, 2014 at 13:40
  • I’ve always preferred a hotkey (Win+P) to a shortcut; that is analogous to Run→cmd, which is why I learned about the registry entry way back then. (Unfortunately Microsoft frustrated my hotkey choice by trying to horde the Win key in Vista+.)
    – Synetech
    Apr 2, 2014 at 0:35

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