How to Enable or Disable (Exit) Focus Mode in Windows Terminal

Focus Mode Terminal

This tutorial will show you how to exit or disable the Focus mode using the command palette, settings, or shortcut keys in Windows Terminal.

Windows Terminal is a fast, efficient, and powerful terminal application that houses all your command-line tools and shells such as Command Prompt, PowerShell, Azure CloudShell, WSL, and more in one place.

When you launch Windows Terminal, by default it will open up as a single tab window, similar to the traditional Command Prompt window. However, Windows Terminal is highly customizable, it lets you choose whether you want to launch the terminal as maximized, full screen, default (in a window), focus, or maximized focus mode.

Setting the Windows Terminal to launch in the Focus mode will open the Terminal in Windowed mode but without tabs and the title bar. The tabs and the title bar will be hidden in the Focus mode, letting you focus only on the terminal content. Enabling the focus mode is easy but getting out of the focus is a bit tricky. Let us show you three different ways to Exit and/or diable Focus mode in Windows Terminal.

Enable Focus Mode in Windows Terminal

First, let us show you how to enable focus mode on Windows Terminal if you don’t know it already.

To enable Focus mode, open Terminal settings by clicking the drop-down menu in the title bar of the Window Terminal and selecting the ‘Settings’ option.

In the Settings tab, click/tap on ‘Startup’ in the left pane and select ‘Foucs’ under Launch mode. Then, click the ‘Save’ button at the bottom right corner.

Now, the next time you launch the Windows Terminal, it will open up in Focus mode as shown below.

Exit or Disable Focus Mode in Windows Terminal

If you enter the focus mode, the tabs and the title bar will be invincible, and you won’t have access to the Terminal window settings. As the menu becomes inaccessible, it may seem there’s no way to exit or disable the focus mode. But there are few different ways to exit the focus mode in Windows Terminal, and all of them involve keyboard shortcut keys.

Disable/Exit Focus Mode using Command Palette

The command palette is an interactive list of the most frequently used commands or actions in Windows Terminal. You can also use the command palette to toggle on/off the focus mode.

When you are in the focus mode, press Ctrl + Shift + P shortcut keys to access the command palette. The interactive command palette feature will pop up with a list of actions that you can run inside Windows Terminal. Scroll down the list till you find the ‘Toggle focus mode’ command or you could also search for ‘focus mode’ in the search box at the top. Then, click on the ‘Toggle focus mode’ command to enter or exit the focus mode.

Your Windows Terminal will immediately exit the focus mode. You can also use this same method to quickly enter the focus mode without the need for going to the settings to change the mode and relaunch the app to enter the focus mode.

But this method only works for the current session of the Windows Terminal. If you have set focus mode as the default launch mode, whenever you relaunch the terminal, it will return to focus mode. So, if you want to fully disable the focus mode, then follow the next method.

Disable the Focus Mode using Settings

Another way you can disable Mode is by using Settings. As we mentioned before, there’s no menu bar visible in the focus mode to enter settings. But you can always access settings using the keyboard shortcut in Windows Terminal.

To access settings, press the shortcut keys Ctrl + , on the keyboard. In the Settings window, click the ‘Startup’ tab and select the ‘Default’ option or ‘Maximized’ option which will run the terminal in full screen with all tabs and title bar still visible.

Both ‘Full screen’ mode and ‘Maximized focus’ mode are just as same as the Focus mode. If you select these modes, you will not be able to see tabs and the title bar of the Terminal.

After you selected the mode, click the ‘Save’ button at the bottom right corner to confirm the changes. This will open the terminal in the selected mode when you relaunch the app.

Then, close the Windows Terminal from the Taskbar or by pressing Alt + F4 and then launch it again.

Enter/Exit the Focus Mode using Hotkeys

This is the easiest way to enter or exit the focus mode in Windows Terminal. You can quickly toggle the focus mode with the custom shortcut keys. This is similar to the first method but without accessing the command palette. However, you need to add a custom key binding (shortcut keys) in the settings.json file first. Follow these steps to do that:

First, open Terminal settings, then click the ‘Open JSON file’ option at the bottom left corner of the app.

In the ‘How do you want to open this file?’ dialog, select your default text editor (like Notepad), and click ‘OK’.

The ‘settings.json’ file will open in Notepad. Here, look for an object named toggleFocusMode under the actions array.

Then, add the following ‘keys’ property and its value (shortcut key) in the settings.json file:

"keys": "Shift+f12"

You need to enter the above property followed by a comma (,) right after the toggleFocusMode command as shown below. You can also add any other key binding instead of Shift+f12.

You can also add ‘keys’ property in a separate line as it is in other commands.

If you don’t see the toggleFocusMode object under the action property at all, you can enter the whole object (the command and a key binding) as shown in the above screenshot.

  {  "command": "toggleFocusMode", "keys": "shift+f12" },

Or, you can copy the ‘command’ property from the ‘default.json’ file to ‘settings.json’ file and add a key binding to the command.

You can access default.json file by clicking the ‘Open JSON file’ option in the Settings while pressing the Alt key.

In the default.json file, copy the toggleFocusMode object from the actions array.

And paste it anywhere under the action array in the ‘setting.json’ file as shown below.

Then, add a key binding for toggleFocusMode as we showed before.

After you entered the key binding, save the settings.json file by clicking the ‘File’ menu and selecting the ‘Save’ option.

Now you can easily toggle focus mode with the shortcut keys Shift + F12 no matter what mode you are on.

That’s it.