Snippets in Visual Studio Code

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

In Visual Studio Code, 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": "on", type a snippet prefix, and press Tab to insert a snippet.

The snippet syntax follows the TextMate snippet syntax with the exceptions of 'interpolated shell code' and the use of \u; both are not supported.

ajax snippet

Install 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 Extension Marketplace 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.

Create your own snippets

You can easily define your own snippets without any extension. To create or edit your own snippets, select User Snippets under File > Preferences (Code > Preferences on macOS), and then select the language (by language identifier) for which the snippets should appear, or the New Global Snippets file option if they should appear for all languages. VS Code manages the creation and refreshing of the underlying snippets file(s) for you.

snippet drop-down

Snippets files are written in JSON, support C-style comments, and can define an unlimited number of snippets. Snippets support most TextMate syntax for dynamic behavior, intelligently format whitespace based on the insertion context, and allow easy multiline editing.

Below is an example of a for loop snippet for JavaScript:

// in file 'Code/User/snippets/javascript.json'
{
    "For Loop": {
        "prefix": [
          "for",
          "for-const"
        ],
        "body": [
          "for (const ${2:element} of ${1:array}) {",
          "\t$0",
          "}"
        ],
        "description": "A for loop."
    }
}

In the example above:

  • "For Loop" is the snippet name. It is displayed via IntelliSense if no description is provided.
  • prefix defines one or more trigger words which display the snippet in IntelliSense. Substring matching is performed on prefixes, so in this case, "fc" could match "for-const".
  • body is one or more lines of content, which will be joined as multiple lines upon insertion. Newlines and embedded tabs will be formatted according to the context in which the snippet is inserted.
  • description is an optional description of the snippet displayed by IntelliSense.

Additionally, the body of the example above has three placeholders (listed in order of traversal): ${1:array}, ${2:element}, and $0. You can quickly jump to the next placeholder with Tab, at which point you may edit the placeholder or jump again the next one. The string after the colon (if any) is the default text, for example element in ${2:element}. Placeholder traversal order is ascending by number, starting from one; zero is an optional special case that always comes last, and exits snippet mode with the cursor at the specified position.

Snippet scope

Snippets are scoped so that only relevant snippets are suggested. Snippets can be scoped by either:

  1. the language(s) to which snippets are scoped (possibly all)
  2. the project(s) to which snippets are scoped (probably all)

Language snippet scope

Every snippet is scoped to one, several, or all ("global") languages based on whether it is defined in:

  1. a language snippet file
  2. a global snippet file

Single-language user-defined snippets are defined in a specific language's snippet file (for example javascript.json), which you can access by language identifier through Preferences: Configure User Snippets. A snippet is only accessible when editing the language for which it is defined.

Multi-language and global user-defined snippets are all defined in "global" snippet files (JSON with the file suffix .code-snippets), which is also accessible through Preferences: Configure User Snippets. In a global snippets file, a snippet definition may have an additional scope property that takes one or more language identifiers, which make the snippet available only for those specified languages. If no scope property is given, then the global snippet is available in all languages.

Most user-defined snippets are scoped to a single language, and so are defined in a language-specific snippet file.

Project snippet scope

You can also have a global snippets file (JSON with file suffix .code-snippets) scoped to your project. Project-folder snippets are created with the New Snippets file for ''... option in the Preferences: Configure User Snippets dropdown menu and are located at the root of the project in a .vscode folder. Project snippet files are useful for sharing snippets with all users working in that project. Project-folder snippets are similar to global snippets and can be scoped to specific languages through the scope property.

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 occurrences of the same tabstop 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
  • CLIPBOARD The contents of your clipboard
  • WORKSPACE_NAME The name of the opened workspace or folder

For inserting the current date and time:

  • CURRENT_YEAR The current year
  • CURRENT_YEAR_SHORT The current year's last two digits
  • CURRENT_MONTH The month as two digits (example '02')
  • CURRENT_MONTH_NAME The full name of the month (example 'July')
  • CURRENT_MONTH_NAME_SHORT The short name of the month (example 'Jul')
  • CURRENT_DATE The day of the month
  • CURRENT_DAY_NAME The name of day (example 'Monday')
  • CURRENT_DAY_NAME_SHORT The short name of the day (example 'Mon')
  • CURRENT_HOUR The current hour in 24-hour clock format
  • CURRENT_MINUTE The current minute
  • CURRENT_SECOND The current second

For inserting line or block comments, honoring the current language:

  • BLOCK_COMMENT_START Example output: in PHP /* or in HTML <!--
  • BLOCK_COMMENT_END Example output: in PHP */ or in HTML -->
  • LINE_COMMENT Example output: in PHP // or in HTML <!-- -->

The snippet below inserts /* Hello World */ in JavaScript files and <!-- Hello World --> in HTML files:

{
    "hello": {
        "scope": "javascript,html",
        "prefix": "hello",
        "body": "$BLOCK_COMMENT_START Hello World $BLOCK_COMMENT_END"
    }
}

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

Placeholder-Transform

Like a Variable-Transform, a transformation of a placeholder allows changing the inserted text for the placeholder when moving to the next tab stop. The inserted text is matched with the regular expression and the match or matches - depending on the options - are replaced with the specified replacement format text. Every occurrence of a placeholder can define its own transformation independently using the value of the first placeholder. The format for Placeholder-Transforms is the same as for Variable-Transforms.

Transform examples

The examples are shown within double quotes, as they would appear inside a snippet body, to illustrate the need to double escape certain characters. Sample transformations and the resulting output for the filename example-123.456-TEST.js.

Example Output Explanation
"${TM_FILENAME/[\\.]/_/}" example-123_456-TEST.js Replace the first . with _
"${TM_FILENAME/[\\.-]/_/g}" example_123_456_TEST_js Replace each . or - with _
"${TM_FILENAME/(.*)/${1:/upcase}/}" EXAMPLE-123.456-TEST.JS Change to all uppercase
"${TM_FILENAME/[^0-9^a-z]//gi}" example123456TESTjs Remove non-alphanumeric characters

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 '}'
                | '${' int  transform '}'
placeholder ::= '${' int ':' any '}'
choice      ::= '${' int '|' text (',' text)* '|}'
variable    ::= '$' var | '${' var '}'
                | '${' var ':' any '}'
                | '${' var transform '}'
transform   ::= '/' regex '/' (format | text)+ '/' options
format      ::= '$' 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 API section to learn more.

Assign keybindings to snippets

You can create custom keybindings to insert specific snippets. Open keybindings.json (Preferences: Open Keyboard Shortcuts File), which defines all your keybindings, and add a keybinding passing "snippet" as an extra argument:

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

The keybinding will invoke the Insert Snippet command but instead of prompting you to select a snippet, it will insert the provided snippet. You define the custom keybinding as usual with a keyboard shortcut, command id, and optional when clause context for when the keyboard shortcut is enabled.

Also, instead of using the snippet argument value to define your snippet inline, you can reference an existing snippet by using the langId and name arguments:

{
  "key": "cmd+k 1",
  "command": "editor.action.insertSnippet",
  "when": "editorTextFocus",
  "args": {
    "langId": "csharp",
    "name": "myFavSnippet"
  }
}

Next steps

  • Command Line - VS Code has a rich command line interface to open or diff files and install extensions.
  • Extension API - Learn about other ways to extend VS Code.
  • Snippet Guide - You can package snippets for use in VS Code.

Common questions

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

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