Troubleshoot Visual Studio Code Integrated Terminal launch failures (2023)

To start, we'd like to say we're sorry that you're here reading this document instead of having a good time using the Integrated Terminal in Visual Studio Code. The VS Code team works hard to make the terminal experience as seamless as possible but in some cases, there are issues with shell or terminal configurations that the VS Code editor can't work around.

After having worked with hundreds of developers to diagnose their terminal launch failures, the VS Code team has put together this topic with the advice and troubleshooting tips that have helped people in the past. We hope you'll find an answer here for your shell or terminal issue and can get quickly back to work.

Integrated Terminal user guide

If you are new to using the VS Code Integrated Terminal, you can learn more in the Integrated Terminal user guide. There you can read how to configure the terminal, as well as review answers to common questions.

Below are specific troubleshooting steps, if the user guide hasn't helped you diagnose the launch failure. The troubleshooting steps, such as checking your settings and enabling logging, apply to all platforms that support VS Code; macOS, Linux, and Windows.

(Video) VS Code Terminal all Error Fix | Worked for Me

Note: If you're on Windows, you may want to review the common issues on Windows section first.

Troubleshooting steps

To troubleshoot Integrated Terminal launch failures in Visual Studio Code, follow these steps to diagnose issues:

  1. Check your user settings. Review these terminal.integrated settings that could affect the launch:

    • terminal.integrated.defaultProfile.{platform} - The default shell profile that the terminal uses.
    • terminal.integrated.profiles.{platform} - The defined shell profiles. Sets the shell path and arguments.
    • terminal.integrated.cwd - The current working directory (cwd) for the shell process.
    • terminal.integrated.env.{platform} - Environment variables that will be added to the shell process.
    • terminal.integrated.inheritEnv - Whether new shells should inherit their environment from VS Code.
    • terminal.integrated.automationProfile.{platform} - Shell profile for automation-related terminal usage like tasks and debug.
    • terminal.integrated.splitCwd - Controls the current working directory a split terminal starts with.
    • terminal.integrated.windowsEnableConpty - Whether to use ConPTY for Windows terminal process communication.

    You can review settings in the Settings editor (File > Preferences > Settings) and search for specific settings by the setting ID.

    Troubleshoot Visual Studio Code Integrated Terminal launch failures (1)

    A quick way to check if you have changed settings that you might not be aware of, is to use the @modified filter in the Settings editor.

    (Video) VS code terminal problem fix

    Troubleshoot Visual Studio Code Integrated Terminal launch failures (2)

    Most Integrated Terminal settings will need to be modified directly in your user settings.json JSON file. You can open settings.json via the Edit in settings.json link in the Settings editor or with the Preferences: Open User Settings (JSON) command from the Command Palette (⇧⌘P (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+P)).

    Troubleshoot Visual Studio Code Integrated Terminal launch failures (3)

  2. Test your shell directly. Try running your designated integrated terminal shell outside VS Code from an external terminal or command prompt. Some terminal launch failures may be due to your shell installation and are not specific to VS Code. The exit codes displayed come from the shell and you may be able to diagnose shell issues by searching on the internet for the specific shell and exit code.

  3. Use the most recent version of VS Code. Each VS Code monthly release has many updates and fixes and may include integrated terminal improvements. You can check your VS Code version via Help > About (on macOS Code > About Visual Studio Code). To find the latest version of VS Code, go to the VS Code release notes. You may also want to check that you have installed the latest version of your shell.

  4. Use the most recent version of your shell. If your shell is installed separate from your platform, try installing the latest available version of the shell. The same advice applies if you are on an older build of your operating system. For example, some older versions of Windows 10 did not work well with the VS Code terminal.

    (Video) VSCode terminal issue fix

  5. Enable trace logging. You can enable trace logging and capture a log when launching the terminal. Logging often reveals what is wrong as all arguments used to create the terminal process/pty are recorded. Bad shell names, arguments, or environment variables can cause the terminal to not launch. Keep this log for later if your problem isn't solved.

Additional troubleshooting steps

If none of these steps helped solve the issue, you can also try:

  • Ask about it on Stack Overflow, often launch issues are related to environment setup and not a problem with VS Code.
  • If the terminal is being launched from an extension, report the issue to the extension by opening the issue reporter (Help > Report Issue) and set File On = "An Extension"
  • If you believe it to be a bug with VS Code, report the issue using the issue reporter (Help > Report Issue). The issue reporter will autofill relevant information, see Creating great terminal issues for what else to include in the report.
  • If you're on Windows 10 1809 (build 17763) or below, the issue is related to the legacy "winpty" backend. Upgrading to Windows 1903 (build 18362) will move you onto the new "conpty" backend that is built by Microsoft and could fix your problem.
  • If your terminal is set to run as administrator only, and you are not launching VS Code as administrator, the terminal will not be able to open. You can either change the default terminal or edit the properties of the terminal exe to not run as administrator.

Exit codes

The exit codes displayed in the terminal launch failure notification are returned from the shell process and are not generated by VS Code. There are many available shells that can be used in the terminal and hundreds of possible exit codes.

  • Try searching on the internet for your specific shell and exit code (for example, "PowerShell 4294901760") and you may find specific suggestions or known issues related to your terminal launch failure.
  • Try searching in your shell's issue repository. For example, if you are having trouble with WSL, you might find a workaround searching for your error code in the open or resolved issues at

Common issues on Windows

Make sure compatibility mode is disabled

When upgrading to Windows 10, some apps may have compatibility mode turned on automatically. When this happens with VS Code, the terminal breaks as it does some low level things to enable the emulation it uses. You can check and disable compatibility mode by right-clicking on the VS Code executable and selecting properties, then uncheck the Run this program in compatibility mode option in the compatibility tab.

The terminal exited with code 1 on Windows 10 (with WSL as the default shell)

This can happen if Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is not set up with a valid default Linux distribution.

Note: 'docker-desktop-data' is not a valid distribution.

(Video) vs code shell integration failed to activate [FIXED]

  • Open PowerShell and enter wslconfig.exe /l to confirm WSL is installed correctly and list the currently available Linux distributions within your system. Confirm a valid distribution has (default) next to it.
  • To change the default distribution, enter wslconfig.exe /setdefault "distributionNameAsShownInList"

The terminal not working when running the 32-bit Windows client on 64-bit Windows?

The easy fix for this issue is to use the 64-bit version. If you must use the 32-bit version, you need to use the sysnative path when configuring your shell path instead of System32. Adding this setting should fix the issue:

{ "": { "Command Prompt": { "path": "${env:windir}\\Sysnative\\cmd.exe" } }}

A native exception occurred

Typically this error occurs due to anti-virus software intercepting and blocking the winpty/conpty components from creating the terminal process. To work around this error, you can exclude the following file from your anti-virus scanning:


Reporting this issue to the Anti-virus team can also help stamp out the issue all together.

Terminal exits with code 259

Exit code 259 can mean STILL_ACTIVE when the terminal is trying to start a new process such as PowerShell.exe. You can try killing unused programs and processes on your machine in case one of them is keeping a terminal shell process active and unable to relaunch.

Anti-virus software running on your machine may also interfere with starting your terminal shell.

Terminal exits with code 3221225786 (or similar)

This can happen when you have legacy console mode enabled in conhost's properties. To change this, open cmd.exe from the start menu, right-click the title bar, go to Properties and under the Options tab, uncheck Use legacy console.

(Video) vs code terminal not working //vs code terminal not working windows 10 ,9,8,7,11/SOLVED

Troubleshoot Visual Studio Code Integrated Terminal launch failures (4)

Next steps

  • Integrated Terminal user guide - Learn more about general terminal use and configuration.



Troubleshoot Visual Studio Code Integrated Terminal launch failures? ›

Use Quick Actions to fix or refactor code

Or, when your cursor is on the line with the colored squiggle, press Ctrl+. or select the light bulb, error light bulb, or screwdriver icon in the margin. Visual Studio then shows you a list of possible fixes or refactorings you can apply to that line of code.

How do I open an integrated terminal in Visual Studio Code? ›

You can open a terminal as follows:
  1. From the menu, use the Terminal > New Terminal or View > Terminal menu commands.
  2. From the Command Palette (Ctrl+Shift+P), use the View: Toggle Terminal command.
  3. In the Explorer, you can use the Open in Integrated Terminal context menu command to open a new terminal from a folder.

How do I fix Visual Studio Code errors? ›

Use Quick Actions to fix or refactor code

Or, when your cursor is on the line with the colored squiggle, press Ctrl+. or select the light bulb, error light bulb, or screwdriver icon in the margin. Visual Studio then shows you a list of possible fixes or refactorings you can apply to that line of code.

How do you stop an infinite loop in VS Code terminal? ›

1 Answer. You can press ctrl-c which sends SIGINT signal that immediately interrupts your program and stops it ( Unless you have a custom handler for this signal ;) )

How do I clear Visual Studio cache code? ›

You can also access the folder by pasting %APPDATA%\Code in explorer. %APPDATA%\Code is the equivalent of the previous path. Once you find the directory, open the CachedData folder and delete its contents. You can delete all folders in the CachedData directory to clear the cache.

What is integrated terminal? ›

An integrated terminal is a feature that allows you to access a command-line interface (CLI) within your code editor. It usually appears as a panel at the bottom or the side of your editor window. You can use it to execute commands, scripts, and tools that are relevant to your web development project.

What is the default terminal in VS Code? ›

The default terminal profile shell defaults to $SHELL on Linux and macOS and PowerShell on Windows. VS Code will automatically detect most standard shells that can then be configured as the default.

How do I see all errors in VS Code project? ›

You can click on the summary or press Ctrl+Shift+M to display the PROBLEMS panel with a list of all current errors. If you open a file that has errors or warnings, they will be rendered inline with the text and in the overview ruler.

Which of the following can cause a runtime error? ›

Depending on the situation, there are a few reasons why a runtime error might occur: There's a bug in the software. Memory or another system resource is in short supply. You've entered a foreign character into a text field, or performed some kind of action that isn't allowed.

How do I enable shell integration in VS Code? ›

By default, the shell integration script should automatically activate on supported shells launched from VS Code. This is done by injecting arguments and/or environment variables when the shell session launches. This automatic injection can be disabled by setting terminal.

What is a common cause of an accidental infinite loop? ›

A programmer can accidentally create an infinite loop by not realising that the values the program uses cause the loop's condition to never be met. Infinite loops can be created using either while or repeat loops.

Why is my while loop infinite? ›

Infinite while loop refers to a while loop where the while condition never becomes false. When a condition never becomes false, the program enters the loop and keeps repeating that same block of code over and over again, and the loop never ends.

Which command will stop an infinite loop? ›

An infinite loop in Batch Script refers to the repetition of a command infinitely. The only way to stop an infinitely loop in Windows Batch Script is by either pressing Ctrl + C or by closing the program.

Where is VS Code cache? ›

The VS Code cache is located in your user folder. Notice that I have the Backups folder highlighted there. Jie removed the files from the CachedData folder, but all that did was trigger a prompt for me to re-install the app. So, I took a risk and deleted what appeared to be a 3GB+ file in Backups .

Can I delete code cache? ›

Yes, you can safely delete it. If you clear browser data inside Chrome, that would work too. For a better answer, always include PC Specs, Make and Model of the device. Ensure all the latest quality updates have been installed.

How do I set max memory in VS Code? ›

You can increase/decrease the available RAM for VS Code on its Settings. Go to File -> Preferences -> Settings, there you can type files. maxMemoryForLargeFilesMB and change the value for your desired maximum RAM.

How do you open integrated terminal VS Code on Mac? ›

To open the Terminal: Use the Ctrl + ` keyboard shortcut with the backtick character to show or hide the Terminal window. Use the View > Terminal menu command.

How do I open the integrated terminal on my Mac? ›

Open Terminal

On your Mac, do one of the following: Click the Launchpad icon in the Dock, type Terminal in the search field, then click Terminal. In the Finder , open the /Applications/Utilities folder, then double-click Terminal.

How do I open a terminal window? ›

Use the Run window to open the Windows Terminal

Another fast method is to open the Run window by pressing the Windows + R keys on your keyboard. Then, type wt and press Enter or click OK.

How do I open a command prompt in Visual Studio? ›

Select the View Menu > Terminal option to launch the terminal as a Tab in Visual Studio.
  1. A faster way to launch the terminal is to use the default keyboard shortcut Ctrl +`.
  2. We can use the context menu from the Solution Explorer to open the terminal at a specific file path.


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