MinTTY is a fantastic piece of software that smoothes some of the edges of the Windows command line experience. You should use it and here’s why:
- MinTTY comes with Cygwin
Installing MinTTY is trivial: just select the mintty package in Cygwin’s setup.exe and point your Cygwin shortcut to
C:\cygwin\bin\mintty.exe -. The trailing hyphen is important.
- Sane copy and paste
By default, MinTTY copies on select and pastes on right-click, just like Linux. However, you can make it behave like a typical Windows application and show a context menu upon right-click.
I won’t bother explaining how difficult copying and pasting is in standard Windows consoles.
MinTTY supports arbitrary window sizes, including maximized. Enough said.
- Works with less/emacs/ssh
Because MinTTY is based on PuTTY, it doesn’t display output strangely when running emacs over ssh, among other examples.
- It’s FAST
Anyone who has done command line work on Windows has surely noticed that, when a program spews output to the console, system performance nosedives. Sometimes, even the mouse cursor skips, making it hard to kill the program responsible.
MinTTY doesn’t have this problem — it uses minimal CPU, even under heavy load.
- Doesn’t bypass RSI Guard
Five years ago, I was diagnosed with repetitive stress injuries from programming. To make matters worse, I get obsessive when I work, and nothing can pull me away from the keyboard.
RSI Guard keeps my wrists and elbows pain-free by enforcing short, periodic breaks. However… years of exposure to RSI Guard has caused me to discover its holes. For example, native console windows bypass RSI Guard’s protection, so when RSI Guard blocked keyboard and mouse input, I would quickly switch to typing in a console window and continue to work. Because MinTTY is a standard Windows application, it closes this backdoor.
- Closes even when programs are backgrounded
Open a fresh Cygwin and type
notepad & followed by
exit. The Cygwin console sticks open until you close Notepad.
In MinTTY, you can always close the window, no matter how many background processes you’ve started.
- Alt-F2 opens a new terminal window
Pure convenience: Alt-F2 opens a new terminal. No need to reach for the mouse.
- Shift-PageUp and Shift-PageDown!
For rapidly paging through previous lines of output, you can press Shift-PageUp and Shift-PageDown, just like the Linux console. Another huge convenience.