Visual Studio Code is suddenly defaulting to PowerShell for integrated terminal and tasks

Update: Version v1.60.0 had a bug. Upgrade to v1.60.1 or higher for a fix.

The bug manifested in the following symptoms:

  • The Open in Integrated Terminal shortcut-menu command in the Explorer pane’s shortcut always uses the built-in default shell (PowerShell on Windows), ignoring the configured one.

  • The same goes for running tasks (with or without a separate terminal.integrated.automationShell.* setting).

  • Also, if a given folder or workspace happened to have an integrated terminal open when quitting Visual Studio Code, the shell that is launched when the integrated terminal automatically reopens the next time is again the built-in default shell, not the configured one. By contrast, if reopening doesn’t auto-open the integrated terminal, opening it manually does respect the configured default shell, and so does manually creating another shell instance later.

See GitHub issue #132150

The following information turned out to be unrelated to the bug, but is hopefully still useful general information about Visual Studio Code’s recent change in how shells for the integrated terminal are configured:

Migrating from the legacy default shell settings to shell profiles:

  • Recently, the "*" and "terminal.integrated.shellArgs.*" settings were deprecated and replaced with a more flexible model that allows defining multiple shells to select from, via so-called shell profiles, optionally defined in setting "terminal.integrated.profiles.*", with an associated mandatory "terminal.integrated.defaultProfile.*" setting referencing the name of the profile to use by default – which may be an explicitly defined custom profile or one of the built-in, platform-appropriate default profiles.

    • Note: * in the setting names above represents the appropriate platform identifier, namely windows, linux, or osx (macOS).
  • As of v1.60.1, if legacy "*" settings are also present, the new settings take precedence (even though the tooltip when editing "*" in settings.json suggests that this change is yet to come).

    • In the absence of both settings, Visual Studio Code’s built-in default shell is used, which on Windows is PowerShell,[1] and on Unix-like platforms the user’s default shell, as specified in the SHELL environment variable.

    • Recent Visual Studio Code versions, starting before v1.60 – seemingly as one-time opportunity – displayed a prompt offering to migrate the deprecated settings to the new ones.

      • Accepting the migration results in the following:

        • Creation of setting "*" containing a custom shell profile derived from the values of legacy settings "*" and, if present, "terminal.integrated.shellArgs.*"; that custom profile’s name has the suffix (migrated)
        • Creation of setting terminal.integrated.defaultProfile.* whose value is the migrated profile’s name, making it the default shell.
        • Removal of legacy settings "*" and "terminal.integrated.shellArgs.*"
      • If you decline the migration, you can later effectively perform it by re-choosing the default shell, as described below.

        • Note: The new "terminal.integrated.defaultProfile.*" setting that is created in the process then effectively overrides the legacy "*" and "terminal.integrated.shellArgs.*" settings, but the latter won’t be removed automatically. To avoid confusion, it’s best to remove them from settings.json manually.
  • Choose the default shell profile to use in order to (re)specify the default shell:

    • Click on the down-arrow part of the shell-selector icon (shell selector) on the right side of the integrated terminal, select Select Default Profile, which presents a list of the defined profiles to select the default from – in the absence of explicitly defined profiles, standard profiles are offered (see below).

    • This translates into a terminal.integrated.defaultProfile.* setting in settings.json, whose value is the name of the chosen shell profile – which may be the name of a built-in profile or one of the ones explicitly defined in "terminal.integrated.profiles.*"

    • Note: This shell is by default also used for tasks (defined in tasks.json), but that can be overridden with a "terminal.integrated.automationShell.*" setting pointing to the executable of an alternative shell.

  • Optionally, in your settings.json file, you may create a platform-appropriate terminal.integrated.profiles.* setting with shell profiles of interest:

    • Note: Even if your settings.json contains no (platform-appropriate) "terminal.integrated.profiles.*" setting, Visual Studio code has built-in standard profiles it knows of and offers them for selection when choosing the default shell.

      • These standard profiles are a mix of shells that come with the host platform as well as some that Visual Studio detects dynamically on a given system, such as Git Bash on Windows.
    • To create the standard profiles explicitly, do the following:

      • Note: You may choose to do this in order to customize the standard profiles. However, if your intent is merely to add custom profiles – see this answer for an example – it isn’t necessary to create the standard profiles inside the "terminal.integrated.profiles.*" setting, because Visual Studio Code knows about them even if not explicitly defined.

      • Via File > Preferences > Settings (Ctrl-,), search for profiles and click on Edit in settings.json below the platform-appropriate Terminal > Integrated > Profiles > * setting; this will open settings.json for editing, with the standard profiles added; simply saving the file is sufficient.

        • Note: If the "terminal.integrated.profiles.*" setting shown doesn’t contain the expected, platform-appropriate standard profiles, a setting by that name may already be present; to force creation of the standard profiles, remove or comment out the existing setting and save the file, then try again.
      • On Windows, you’ll end up with something like the following:

        "": {
          "PowerShell": {
            "source": "PowerShell",
            "icon": "terminal-powershell"
          "Command Prompt": {
            "path": [
            "args": [],
            "icon": "terminal-cmd"
          "Git Bash": {
            "source": "Git Bash"

The answer you link to in your question, which provides an overview of the various types of shells used in Visual Studio Code, has been updated to reflect the information about the new shell profiles.

[1] Note: If a PowerShell (Core) v6+ installation is found, it takes precedence over the built-in Windows PowerShell version.

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