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Matthew Hodgkins Blog

System Engineer, PowerShell, Chef and Automation lover and Aussie. Living and working in the Netherlands.

Ultimate PowerShell Prompt Customization and Git Setup Guide

Source control and Git keeps getting more and more important for both Developers and Operations guys. Getting up and running with Git on MacOS or Linux is very easy as most things are built in. There are also cool tools like oh-my-zsh to customize your prompt.

On Windows, it’s a bit of a different story. Let’s spend a little time installing ConEmu and Git, then customizing it to take our prompt from something that looks like this:

sexy powershell prompt

to this:

sexy powershell prompt

By the end of the article you will have a great looking prompt, a nice Git setup using ssh keys and even be able to squash commits on Windows.

Install required components

We will be installing the following tools for our ultimate git setup:

  • Chocolatey - a Windows package manager
  • Chocolatey Packages
    • git.install - Git for Windows
    • ConEmu - Terminal Emulator for Windows
  • PowerShell Modules
    • posh-git - PowerShell functions for working with Git

Open an Administrative PowerShell prompt and enter the following:

# Set your PowerShell execution policy
Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Force

# Install Chocolatey
iwr -UseBasicParsing | iex

# Install Chocolatey packages
choco install git.install -y
choco install conemu -y

# Install PowerShell modules
Install-PackageProvider NuGet -MinimumVersion '' -Force
Set-PSRepository -Name PSGallery -InstallationPolicy Trusted
Install-Module -Name 'posh-git'

Close out of your PowerShell window.


Open up ConEmu. I like to use this instead of the standard PowerShell prompt.

On the first launch of ConEmu, you will be prompted with a fast configuration dialog. Click OK and continue. We will customize it manually.

Open up the settings menu and configure the below settings.

ConEmu Settings

Enable single instance mode

Prevent multiple copies of ConEmu starting. Use the tabs instead!

ConEmu Single Instance Mode

Enable Quake mode

This is a cool one, it makes ConEmu slide down from the top of your screen like the Quake terminal used to.

ConEmu Quake Mode

Set PowerShell as the default shell

Who uses cmd anymore? Set the default shell to PowerShell.

ConEmu PowerShell as default

Verify Quake mode hotkey

Get the most out of Quake Mode by setting a hotkey.

ConEmu PowerShell as default

Set a custom color scheme

You can customize ConEmu you a color scheme. Check out the ConEmu Theme GitHub Repo. My terminal example above is using the Dracula theme.

PowerShell Profile

We have a nice terminal theme, but let’s do a few finishing touches to make it pop.

Create and edit the PowerShell Profile

PowerShell can load some settings every time it starts, which is known as the PowerShell Profile or $PROFILE.

To create/edit your $PROFILE do the following:

# Creates profile if doesn't exist then edits it
if (!(Test-Path -Path $PROFILE)){ New-Item -Path $PROFILE -ItemType File } ; ise $PROFILE

This will launch the PowerShell ISE so you can edit the profile.

posh-git and Ssh-Agent

The first thing to do inside your PowerShell Profile is to import the posh-git module. Next, you should add the Start-SshAgent command. ssh-agent will manage our keys for us.

Add the following to your $PROFILE

Import-Module -Name posh-git


This will give us some functionality when working with Git repos.

Customize the prompt

Let’s make our prompt a little cooler and customize it a little.

I like the prompt that Joon Ro created over at his blog. I modified it slightly:

Colorize your directory listing

When we do a ls or dir wouldn’t it be nice to be able to colorize folders or certain file types instead of just having a boring list that looks the same?

Check out the Get-ChildItem-Color repository. I added the contents of Get-ChildItem-Color.ps1 to my $PROFILE.

I then overwrote both the ls and dir aliases by adding the following into my $PROFILE:

Set-Alias ls Get-ChildItem-Color -option AllScope -Force
Set-Alias dir Get-ChildItem-Color -option AllScope -Force


Now we have a nice terminal to work with, let’s get Git setup.

Open up ConEmu.

Add C:\Program Files\Git\usr\bin to Path Variable

First up we need to add the C:\Program Files\Git\usr\bin folder to our path variable. This folder contains ssh-add and ssh-agent which we will be using to manage our SSH keys.

# Permanently add C:\Program Files\Git\usr\bin to machine Path variable
[Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable("Path", $env:Path + ";C:\Program Files\Git\usr\bin", "Machine")

Restart ConEmu for it to take effect.

Generate a key

Let’s generate our ssh key.

# Generate the key and put into the your user profile .ssh directory
ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C "[email protected]" -f $env:USERPROFILE\.ssh\id_rsa

Add the public key to GitHub

Once we have a generated SSH Key, we need to give GitHub the public key.

# Copy the public key. Be sure to copy the .pub for the public key
Get-Content $env:USERPROFILE\.ssh\ | clip

Open up your GitHub settings and choose SSH and GPG keys on the left.

Add Github Public Key

This process is similar for BitBucket.

Add our key to ssh-agent

When we try and push to our git repository, our machine will need to authenticate us using our SSH Key. A tool called ssh-agent keeps track of the keys we have and authenticating against GitHub for us.

With Start-SshAgent added to our profile, when you open up a new PowerShell prompt (or tab in ConEmu), ssh-agent will notice the in our $env:USERPROFILE\.ssh directory and attempt to load it:

ssh-agent start

If you don’t see this prompt you, ssh-agent had probably started before the ssh key existed, try stopping and starting it:


You can also manually add a key to ssh-agent:

Add-SshKey $env:USERPROFILE\.ssh\id_rsa

To view the keys that ssh-agent knows about, you can list them:

# List ssh keys
ssh-add -l

If you wanted to remove your keys from ssh-agent for some reason:

# Remove all ssh keys
ssh-add -D

Test authentication to GitHub

To test that your ssh key is working, you can run the following command:

# Test ssh connection to GitHub
ssh -T [email protected]

testing github auth

Configure global Git settings

Finally, we can configure some global Git settings:

git config --global "[email protected]"
git config --global "Your Name"
git config --global push.default simple
git config --global core.ignorecase false

# Configure line endings for windows
git config --global core.autocrlf true

Squash commits

Do you commit a little too often? Me too. It’s all good and well until we go and make a pull request on someone else’s repository and they are a little anal about keeping the Git history clean. Maybe you just feel embarrassed at the amount of commits you do and want to cover your tracks.

To fix this, we can “squash” our commits down so they just appear as one.

Here is what a pull request looks like with several commits:

too many git commits

The easiest way to squash commits on Windows is to use the gitk tool.

Back over on our repository:

# run the gitk tool

These are the commits I want to squash:

too many git commits

I select the commit before I made the big mess, and choose Reset <branch> to here.

reset to the commit before the mess

Choose Mixed: leave working tree untouched, reset index

choose the mixed reset method

What this has done is reset your branch / repo to before the commits, but has left your changes untouched. We can now re-add the changes.

# see the state of the repo
git status

# add your changes back
git add .

# commit your changes
git commit -m "only one commit now!"

# git push with the --force switch
git push --force

Your commits will be squashed nicely now, and even if you had a pull request open, it will have been updated:

clean pull request

Thanks to Matt Wrock (@mwrock) for this tip!


With that, we have a pretty awesome looking PowerShell prompt and can work nicely with git repositories. We can even squash commits on Windows!

quake mode

Enjoy Quake mode :)