Windows Guide


The easy way

The easiest way to install xonsh on windows is through the Anaconda Python Distribution and the conda package manager.


Be sure to install the version with Python3.4 or later. Xonsh is not yet supported on legacy Python (2.7).

Install xonsh with the following command:

> conda config --add channels conda-forge
> conda install xonsh

This will install xonsh and all the recommended dependencies. Next, run xonsh:

> xonsh
snail@home ~ $

Install from source

To install xonsh from source on Windows, first install Python v3.4+ from Remember to select “Add python to PATH” during installation.

Next, install the prompt_toolkit dependency via pip:

> pip install prompt-toolkit

While prompt-toolkit is considered an optional dependency, it is the recommended alternative to pyreadline for Windows users. For Windows, it is recommended to use a replacement console emulator. Good choices are cmder or conemu.

Download the latest from github and unzip it to xonsh-master.

Now install xonsh:

> cd xonsh-master
> python install

Next, run xonsh:

> xonsh
snail@home ~ $


Color style

The dark red and blue colors are completely unreadable in Windows’ default terminal.


To give new users, the best experience Xonsh automatically replaces some of the dark colors with more readable alternatives (e.g. blue becomes cyan). The behavior is controlled with the $INTENSIFY_COLORS_ON_WIN environment variable.


It is possible to configure the Windows console with readable default colors, but it is tedious to do manually. Here is registry file which will do it automatically and set some good default colors. Simply download and run the registry file.


This may not always work right away. Especially if you already fiddled around with the colors settings. Try to delete any subfolders under HKCU/console/ in the registry. Also, shortcuts files store their own colors schemes and ignore registry settings.

With better colors configured, $INTENSIFY_COLORS_ON_WIN should be set to False, and the default prompt can be changed to match how it looks on POSIX and Mac. You can do this by adding the following to the xonsh run control file .xonshrc:

$PROMPT = $PROMPT.replace('INTENSE_','').replace('CYAN','BLUE')

With everything setup the console will look like this:


Avoid locking the working directory

Python (like other processes on Windows) locks the current working directory so it can’t be deleted or renamed. cmd.exe has this behaviour as well, but it is quite annoying for a shell.

The free_cwd xontrib (add-on) for xonsh solves some of this problem. It works by hooking the prompt to reset the current working directory to the root drive folder whenever the shell is idle. It only works with the prompt-toolkit back-end. To enable that behaviour run the following:

>>> xontrib load free_cwd

Add this line to your ~/.xonshrc file to have it always enabled.

Name space conflicts

Due to ambiguity with the Python dir builtin, to list the current directory via the cmd.exe builtin you must explicitly request the ., like this:

>>> dir .
 Volume in drive C is Windows
 Volume Serial Number is 30E8-8B86

 Directory of C:\Users\snail\xonsh

2015-05-12  03:04    <DIR>          .
2015-05-12  03:04    <DIR>          ..
2015-05-01  01:31    <DIR>          xonsh
               0 File(s)              0 bytes
               3 Dir(s)  11,008,000,000 bytes free

Many people create a d alias for the dir command to save typing and avoid the ambiguity altogether:

>>> aliases['d'] = ['cmd', '/c', 'dir']

You can add aliases to your ~/.xonshrc to have it always available when xonsh starts.

Unicode support for Windows

Python’s utf-8 unicode is not compatible with the default shell ‘cmd.exe’ on Windows. The package win_unicode_console fixes this. Xonsh will use win_unicode_console if it is installed. This can be disabled/enabled with the $WIN_UNICODE_CONSOLE` environment variable.


Even with unicode support enabled the symbols available will depend on the font used in cmd.exe.

The packages win_unicode_console can be installed along with xonsh by using the package name xonsh[win] or separately using pip or conda.

> pip install win_unicode_console
> conda install --channel xonsh win_unicode_console