Creating your own Snippets

Code snippets are templates that make it easier to enter repeating code patterns, such as loops or conditional-statements.

Snippets show in IntelliSense (⌃Space (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Space)) mixed with other suggestions as well as in a dedicated snippet picker (Insert Snippet in the Command Palette). There is also support for tab-completion: Enable it with "editor.tabCompletion": true, type a snippet prefix, and press Tab to insert a snippet.

The snippet syntax follows the TextMate snippet syntax with the exception of 'interpolated shell code', which is not supported.

ajax snippet

Add Snippets from the Marketplace

Many extensions on the VS Code Marketplace include snippets. If you find one you want to use, install it and restart VS Code and the new snippet will be available (see here for more instructions on installing an extension).

Below are some popular extensions which include snippets in their language support:

Tip: The extensions shown above are dynamically queried. Click on an extension tile above to read the description and reviews to decide which extension is best for you. See more in the Marketplace.

Creating your Own Snippets

You can define your own snippets for specific languages. To open up a snippet file for editing, open User Snippets under File > Preferences (Code > Preferences on Mac) and select the language for which the snippets should appear.

Snippets are defined in a JSON format and stored in a per user (languageId).json file. For example, Markdown snippets go in a markdown.json file.

The example below is a For Loop snippet for JavaScript.

    "For Loop": {
        "prefix": "for",
        "body": [
            "for (var ${1:index} = 0; ${1:index} < ${2:array}.length; ${1:index}++) {",
            "\tvar ${3:element} = ${2:array}[${1:index}];",
            "\t$0",
            "}"
        ],
        "description": "For Loop"
    },

In the example above:

  • For Loop is the snippet name
  • prefix defines how this snippet is selected from IntelliSense and tab completion. In this case for.
  • body is the content and either a single string or an array of strings of which each element will be inserted as separate line.
  • description is the description used in the IntelliSense drop down

The example above has three placeholders, ${1:index}, ${2:array}, and ${3:element}. You can quickly traverse them in the order of their number. The string after the number and colon is filled in as default.

Once you have added a new snippet, you can try it out right away, no restart needed.

Snippet Syntax

The body of a snippet can use special constructs to control cursors and the text being inserted. The following are supported features and their syntaxes:

Tabstops

With tabstops, you can make the editor cursor move inside a snippet. Use $1, $2 to specify cursor locations. The number is the order in which tabstops will be visited, whereas $0 denotes the final cursor position. Multiple tabstops are linked and updated in sync.

Placeholders

Placeholders are tabstops with values, like ${1:foo}. The placeholder text will be inserted and selected such that it can be easily changed. Placeholders can be nested, like ${1:another ${2:placeholder}}.

Choice

Placeholders can have choices as values. The syntax is a comma separated enumeration of values, enclosed with the pipe-character, for example ${1|one,two,three|}. When the snippet is inserted and the placeholder selected, choices will prompt the user to pick one of the values.

Variables

With $name or ${name:default} you can insert the value of a variable. When a variable isn’t set, its default or the empty string is inserted. When a variable is unknown (that is, its name isn’t defined) the name of the variable is inserted and it is transformed into a placeholder.

The following variables can be used:

  • TM_SELECTED_TEXT The currently selected text or the empty string
  • TM_CURRENT_LINE The contents of the current line
  • TM_CURRENT_WORD The contents of the word under cursor or the empty string
  • TM_LINE_INDEX The zero-index based line number
  • TM_LINE_NUMBER The one-index based line number
  • TM_FILENAME The filename of the current document
  • TM_FILENAME_BASE The filename of the current document without its extensions
  • TM_DIRECTORY The directory of the current document
  • TM_FILEPATH The full file path of the current document

Variable Transforms

Transformations allow you to modify the value of a variable before it is inserted. The definition of a transformation consists of three parts:

  1. A regular expression that is matched against the value of a variable, or the empty string when the variable cannot be resolved.
  2. A "format string" that allows to reference matching groups from the regular expression. The format string allows for conditional inserts and simple modifications.
  3. Options that are passed to the regular expression.

The following example inserts the name of the current file without its ending, so from foo.txt it makes foo.

${TM_FILENAME/(.*)\\..+$/$1/}
  |           |         | |
  |           |         | |-> no options
  |           |         |
  |           |         |-> references the contents of the first
  |           |             capture group
  |           |
  |           |-> regex to capture everything before
  |               the final `.suffix`
  |
  |-> resolves to the filename

Grammar

Below is the EBNF (extended Backus-Naur form) for snippets. With \ (backslash), you can escape $, } and \. Within choice elements, the backslash also escapes comma and pipe characters.

any         ::= tabstop | placeholder | choice | variable | text
tabstop     ::= '$' int | '${' int '}'
placeholder ::= '${' int ':' any '}'
choice      ::= '${' int '|' text (',' text)* '|}'
variable    ::= '$' var | '${' var }'
                | '${' var ':' any '}'
                | '${' var '/' regex '/' (format | text)+ '/' options '}'
format      ::= '$' int | '${' int '}'
                | '${' int ':' '/upcase' | '/downcase' | '/capitalize' '}'
                | '${' int ':+' if '}'
                | '${' int ':?' if ':' else '}'
                | '${' int ':-' else '}' | '${' int ':' else '}'
regex       ::= JavaScript Regular Expression value (ctor-string)
options     ::= JavaScript Regular Expression option (ctor-options)
var         ::= [_a-zA-Z] [_a-zA-Z0-9]*
int         ::= [0-9]+
text        ::= .*

Using TextMate snippets

You can also use existing TextMate snippets (.tmSnippets) with VS Code. See the Using TextMate Snippets topic in our Extension Authoring section to learn more.

Assign keybindings to snippets

We already know that snippets can be inserted via IntelliSense, the 'Insert Snippet'-action, or via tab-completion. That's not all. You can create custom keybindings to insert specific snippets. Open keybindings.json, which defines all your keybindings, and something add this:

{
  "key": "cmd+k 1",
  "command": "editor.action.insertSnippet",
  "when": "editorTextFocus",
  "args": {
    "snippet": "console.log($1)$0"
  }
}

It will invoke the 'Insert Snippet'-action but instead of letting you select a snippet it will run on the provided snippet. Also, instead of snippet you can have langId and name arguments to reference an existing snippet: { "langId": "csharp", "name": "myFavSnippet" }

Next Steps

Common Questions

Q: What if I want to use existing TextMate snippets from a .tmSnippet file?

A: You can easily package TextMate snippets files for use in VS Code. See Using TextMate Snippets in our Extension Authoring documentation.