Visual Studio Code Tips and Tricks

"Tips and Tricks" lets you jump right in and learn how to be productive with Visual Studio Code. You'll become familiar with its powerful editing, code intelligence, and source code control features and learn useful keyboard shortcuts. This topic goes pretty fast and provides a broad overview, so be sure to look at the other in-depth topics in Getting Started and the User Guide to learn more.

If you don't have Visual Studio Code installed, go to the Download page. You can find platform specific setup instructions at Running VS Code on Linux, macOS, and Windows.

Prefer a video? You can watch a recent Microsoft Build talk Visual Studio Code tips and tricks, which describes 20 tips and tricks for working productively with VS Code.


Getting started

The best way of exploring VS Code hands-on is to open the Welcome page. You will get an overview of VS Code's customizations and features. Help > Welcome.

Welcome page

Pick a Walkthrough for a self-guided tour through the setup steps, features, and deeper customizations that VS Code offers. As you discover and learn, the walkthroughs track your progress.

If you are looking to improve your code editing skills open the Interactive Editor Playground. Try out VS Code's code editing features, like multi-cursor editing, IntelliSense, Snippets, Emmet, and many more. Help > Editor Playground.

Interactive editor playground

Command Palette

Access all available commands based on your current context.

Keyboard Shortcut: ⇧⌘P (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+P)

Command Palette

Default keyboard shortcuts

All of the commands are in the Command Palette with the associated key binding (if it exists). If you forget a keyboard shortcut, use the Command Palette to help you out.

keyboard references

Keyboard reference sheets

Download the keyboard shortcut reference sheet for your platform (macOS, Windows, Linux).

Keyboard Reference Sheet

Quick Open

Quickly open files.

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘P (Windows, Linux Ctrl+P)

Quick Open

Tip: Type ? to view command suggestions.

Quick Open command list

Typing commands such as edt and term followed by a space will bring up dropdown lists.

term command in Quick Open

Navigate between recently opened files

Repeat the Quick Open keyboard shortcut to cycle quickly between recently opened files.

Open multiple files from Quick Open

You can open multiple files from Quick Open by pressing the Right arrow key. This will open the currently selected file in the background and you can continue selecting files from Quick Open.

Navigate between recently opened folders and workspaces

Open Recent

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌃R (Windows, Linux Ctrl+R)

Displays a Quick Pick dropdown with the list from File > Open Recent with recently opened folders and workspaces followed by files.

Command line

VS Code has a powerful command line interface (CLI) which allows you to customize how the editor is launched to support various scenarios.

Make sure the VS Code binary is on your path so you can simply type 'code' to launch VS Code. See the platform specific setup topics if VS Code is added to your environment path during installation (Running VS Code on Linux, macOS, Windows).

# open code with current directory
code .

# open the current directory in the most recently used code window
code -r .

# create a new window
code -n

# change the language
code --locale=es

# open diff editor
code --diff <file1> <file2>

# open file at specific line and column <file:line[:character]>
code --goto package.json:10:5

# see help options
code --help

# disable all extensions
code --disable-extensions .

.vscode folder

Workspace specific files are in a .vscode folder at the root. For example, tasks.json for the Task Runner and launch.json for the debugger.

Status Bar

Errors and warnings

Keyboard Shortcut: ⇧⌘M (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+M)

Quickly jump to errors and warnings in the project.

Cycle through errors with F8 or ⇧F8 (Windows, Linux Shift+F8)

errors and warnings

You can filter problems either by type ('errors', 'warnings') or text matching.

Change language mode

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘K M (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K M)

change syntax

If you want to persist the new language mode for that file type, you can use the Configure File Association for command to associate the current file extension with an installed language.


There are many things you can do to customize VS Code.

  • Change your theme
  • Change your keyboard shortcuts
  • Tune your settings
  • Add JSON validation
  • Create snippets
  • Install extensions

Change your theme

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘K ⌘T (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K Ctrl+T)

You can install more themes from the VS Code extension Marketplace.

Preview themes

Additionally, you can install and change your File Icon themes.

File icon themes


Are you used to keyboard shortcuts from another editor? You can install a Keymap extension that brings the keyboard shortcuts from your favorite editor to VS Code. Go to Preferences > Migrate Keyboard Shortcuts from... to see the current list on the Marketplace. Some of the more popular ones:

Customize your keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘K ⌘S (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K Ctrl+S)

keyboard shortcuts

You can search for shortcuts and add your own keybindings to the keybindings.json file.

customize keyboard shortcuts

See more in Key Bindings for Visual Studio Code.

Tune your settings

By default VS Code shows the Settings editor, you can find settings listed below in a search bar, but you can still edit the underlying settings.json file by using the Open User Settings (JSON) command or by changing your default settings editor with the workbench.settings.editor setting.

Open User Settings settings.json

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘, (Windows, Linux Ctrl+,)

Change the font size of various UI elements

// Main editor
"editor.fontSize": 18,
// Terminal panel
"terminal.integrated.fontSize": 14,
// Output panel
"[Log]": {
    "editor.fontSize": 15

Change the zoom level

"window.zoomLevel": 5

Font ligatures

"editor.fontFamily": "Fira Code",
"editor.fontLigatures": true

Tip: You will need to have a font installed that supports font ligatures. FiraCode is a popular font on the VS Code team.

font ligatures

Auto Save

"files.autoSave": "afterDelay"

You can also toggle Auto Save from the top-level menu with the File > Auto Save.

Format on save

"editor.formatOnSave": true

Format on paste

"editor.formatOnPaste": true

Change the size of Tab characters

"editor.tabSize": 4

Spaces or Tabs

"editor.insertSpaces": true

Render whitespace

"editor.renderWhitespace": "all"

Whitespace characters are rendered by default in text selection.

Ignore files / folders

Removes these files / folders from your editor window.

"files.exclude": {
    "somefolder/": true,
    "somefile": true

Remove these files / folders from search results.

"search.exclude": {
    "someFolder/": true,
    "somefile": true

And many, many other customizations.

Language specific settings

You can scope the settings that you only want for specific languages by the language identifier. You can find a list of commonly used language IDs in the Language Identifiers reference.

"[languageid]": {


Tip: You can also create language specific settings with the Configure Language Specific Settings command.

language based settings

Add JSON validation

Enabled by default for many file types. Create your own schema and validation in settings.json

"json.schemas": [
        "fileMatch": [
        "url": ""

or for a schema defined in your workspace

"json.schemas": [
        "fileMatch": [
        "url": "./myschema.json"

or a custom schema

"json.schemas": [
        "fileMatch": [
        "schema": {
            "type": "object",
            "properties": {
                "name" : {
                    "type": "string",
                    "description": "The name of the entry"

See more in the JSON documentation.


Keyboard Shortcut: ⇧⌘X (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+X)

Find extensions

  1. In the VS Code Marketplace.
  2. Search inside VS Code in the Extensions view.
  3. View extension recommendations
  4. Community curated extension lists, such as awesome-vscode.

Install extensions

In the Extensions view, you can search via the search bar or click the More Actions (...) button to filter and sort by install count.

install extensions

Extension recommendations

In the Extensions view, click Show Recommended Extensions in the More Actions (...) button menu.

show recommended extensions

Creating my own extension

Are you interested in creating your own extension? You can learn how to do this in the Extension API documentation, specifically check out the documentation on contribution points.

  • configuration
  • commands
  • keybindings
  • languages
  • debuggers
  • grammars
  • themes
  • snippets
  • jsonValidation

Files and folders

Integrated Terminal

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌃` (Windows, Linux Ctrl+`)

Integrated terminal

Further reading:

Toggle Sidebar

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘B (Windows, Linux Ctrl+B)

toggle side bar

Toggle Panel

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘J (Windows, Linux Ctrl+J)

Zen mode

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘K Z (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K Z)

zen mode

Enter distraction free Zen mode.

Press Esc twice to exit Zen Mode.

Side by side editing

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘\ (Windows, Linux Ctrl+\)

You can also drag and drop editors to create new editor groups and move editors between groups.

split editors

Switch between editors

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘1 (Windows, Linux Ctrl+1), ⌘2 (Windows, Linux Ctrl+2), ⌘3 (Windows, Linux Ctrl+3)

navigate editors

Move to Explorer window

Keyboard Shortcut: ⇧⌘E (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+E)

Create or open a file

Keyboard Shortcut: Ctrl+click (Cmd+click on macOS)

You can quickly open a file or image or create a new file by moving the cursor to the file link and using Ctrl+click.

create and open file

Close the currently opened folder

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘K F (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K F)

Navigation history

Navigate entire history: ⌃Tab (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Tab)

Navigate back: ⌃- (Windows Alt+Left, Linux Ctrl+Alt+-)

Navigate forward: ⌃⇧- (Windows Alt+Right, Linux Ctrl+Shift+-)

navigate history

File associations

Create language associations for files that aren't detected correctly. For example, many configuration files with custom file extensions are actually JSON.

"files.associations": {
    ".database": "json"

Preventing dirty writes

VS Code will show you an error message when you try to save a file that cannot be saved because it has changed on disk. VS Code blocks saving the file to prevent overwriting changes that have been made outside of the editor.

In order to resolve the save conflict, click the Compare action in the error message to open a diff editor that will show you the contents of the file on disk (to the left) compared to the contents in VS Code (on the right):

dirty write

Use the actions in the editor toolbar to resolve the save conflict. You can either Accept your changes and thereby overwriting any changes on disk, or Revert to the version on disk. Reverting means that your changes will be lost.

Note: The file will remain dirty and cannot be saved until you pick one of the two actions to resolve the conflict.

Editing hacks

Here is a selection of common features for editing code. If the keyboard shortcuts aren't comfortable for you, consider installing a keymap extension for your old editor.

Tip: You can see recommended keymap extensions in the Extensions view by filtering the search to @recommended:keymaps.

Multi cursor selection

To add cursors at arbitrary positions, select a position with your mouse and use Alt+Click (Option+Click on macOS).

To set cursors above or below the current position use:

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌥⌘↑ (Windows Ctrl+Alt+Up, Linux Shift+Alt+Up) or ⌥⌘↓ (Windows Ctrl+Alt+Down, Linux Shift+Alt+Down)

multi cursor

You can add additional cursors to all occurrences of the current selection with ⇧⌘L (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+L).

add cursor to all occurrences of current selection

Note: You can also change the modifier to Ctrl/Cmd for applying multiple cursors with the editor.multiCursorModifier setting . See Multi-cursor Modifier for details.

If you do not want to add all occurrences of the current selection, you can use ⌘D (Windows, Linux Ctrl+D) instead. This only selects the next occurrence after the one you selected so you can add selections one by one.

add cursor to next occurrences of current selection one by one

Column (box) selection

You can select blocks of text by holding Shift+Alt (Shift+Option on macOS) while you drag your mouse. A separate cursor will be added to the end of each selected line.

Column text selection

You can also use keyboard shortcuts to trigger column selection.

Vertical rulers

You can add vertical column rulers to the editor with the editor.rulers setting, which takes an array of column character positions where you'd like vertical rulers.

  "editor.rulers": [20, 40, 60]

Editor rulers in the editor

Fast scrolling

Pressing the Alt key enables fast scrolling in the editor and Explorers. By default, fast scrolling uses a 5X speed multiplier but you can control the multiplier with the Editor: Fast Scroll Sensitivity (editor.fastScrollSensitivity) setting.

Locked scrolling

You can synchronize scrolling across all visible editors by using the View: Toggle Locked Scrolling Across Editors command. This means that when you scroll in one editor, all the other editors scroll by the same amount, keeping everything aligned.

Locked scrolling in the editor

You can choose to only activate the scrolling sync when you're holding down a specific keybinding. Set up a keyboard shortcut for the workbench.action.holdLockedScrolling command to temporarily lock scrolling across editors.

Copy line up / down

Keyboard Shortcut: ⇧⌥↑ (Windows Shift+Alt+Up, Linux Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Up) or ⇧⌥↓ (Windows Shift+Alt+Down, Linux Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Down)

The commands Copy Line Up/Down are unbound on Linux because the VS Code default keybindings would conflict with Ubuntu keybindings, see Issue #509. You can still set the commands editor.action.copyLinesUpAction and editor.action.copyLinesDownAction to your own preferred keyboard shortcuts.

copy line down

Move line up and down

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌥↑ (Windows, Linux Alt+Up) or ⌥↓ (Windows, Linux Alt+Down)

move line up and down

Shrink / expand selection

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌃⇧⌘← (Windows, Linux Shift+Alt+Left) or ⌃⇧⌘→ (Windows, Linux Shift+Alt+Right)

shrink expand selection

You can learn more in the Basic Editing documentation.

Go to Symbol in File

Keyboard Shortcut: ⇧⌘O (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+O)

Find by symbol

You can group the symbols by kind by adding a colon, @:.

group symbols by kind

Go to Symbol in Workspace

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘T (Windows, Linux Ctrl+T)

go to symbol in workspace

Outline view

The Outline view in the File Explorer (default collapsed at the bottom) shows you the symbols of the currently open file.

Outline view

You can sort by symbol name, category, and position in the file and allows quick navigation to symbol locations.

Navigate to a specific line

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌃G (Windows, Linux Ctrl+G)

Undo cursor position

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘U (Windows, Linux Ctrl+U)

Trim trailing whitespace

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘K ⌘X (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K Ctrl+X)

trailing whitespace

Transform text commands

You can change selected text to uppercase, lowercase, and title case with the Transform commands from the Command Palette.

Transform text commands

Code formatting

Currently selected source code: ⌘K ⌘F (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K Ctrl+F)

Whole document format: ⇧⌥F (Windows Shift+Alt+F, Linux Ctrl+Shift+I)

code formatting

Code folding

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌥⌘[ (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+[) and ⌥⌘] (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+])

code folding

You can also fold/unfold all regions in the editor with Fold All (⌘K ⌘0 (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K Ctrl+0)) and Unfold All (⌘K ⌘J (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K Ctrl+J)).

You can fold all block comments with Fold All Block Comments (⌘K ⌘/ (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K Ctrl+/)).

Select current line

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘L (Windows, Linux Ctrl+L)

Navigate to beginning and end of file

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘↑ (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Home) and ⌘↓ (Windows, Linux Ctrl+End)

Open Markdown preview

In a Markdown file, use

Keyboard Shortcut: ⇧⌘V (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+V)

Markdown preview

Side by side Markdown edit and preview

In a Markdown file, use

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌘K V (Windows, Linux Ctrl+K V)

The preview and editor will synchronize with your scrolling in either view.

side by side Markdown preview


⌃Space (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Space) to trigger the Suggestions widget.


You can view available methods, parameter hints, short documentation, etc.


Select a symbol then type ⌥F12 (Windows Alt+F12, Linux Ctrl+Shift+F10). Alternatively, you can use the context menu.


Go to Definition

Select a symbol then type F12. Alternatively, you can use the context menu or Ctrl+click (Cmd+click on macOS).

go to definition

You can go back to your previous location with the Go > Back command or ⌃- (Windows Alt+Left, Linux Ctrl+Alt+-).

You can also see the type definition if you press Ctrl (Cmd on macOS) when you are hovering over the type.

Go to References

Select a symbol then type ⇧F12 (Windows, Linux Shift+F12). Alternatively, you can use the context menu.

peek references

Find All References view

Select a symbol then type ⇧⌥F12 (Windows, Linux Shift+Alt+F12) to open the References view showing all your file's symbols in a dedicated view.

Rename Symbol

Select a symbol then type F2. Alternatively, you can use the context menu.

rename symbol

Search and modify

Besides searching and replacing expressions, you can also search and reuse parts of what was matched, using regular expressions with capturing groups. Enable regular expressions in the search box by clicking the Use Regular Expression .* button (⌥⌘R (Windows, Linux Alt+R)) and then write a regular expression and use parentheses to define groups. You can then reuse the content matched in each group by using $1, $2, etc. in the Replace field.

search and modify


Install the ESLint extension. Configure your linter however you'd like. Consult the ESLint specification for details on its linting rules and options.

Here is configuration to use ES6.

  "env": {
    "browser": true,
    "commonjs": true,
    "es6": true,
    "node": true
  "parserOptions": {
    "ecmaVersion": 6,
    "sourceType": "module",
    "ecmaFeatures": {
      "jsx": true,
      "classes": true,
      "defaultParams": true
  "rules": {
    "no-const-assign": 1,
    "no-extra-semi": 0,
    "semi": 0,
    "no-fallthrough": 0,
    "no-empty": 0,
    "no-mixed-spaces-and-tabs": 0,
    "no-redeclare": 0,
    "no-this-before-super": 1,
    "no-undef": 1,
    "no-unreachable": 1,
    "no-use-before-define": 0,
    "constructor-super": 1,
    "curly": 0,
    "eqeqeq": 0,
    "func-names": 0,
    "valid-typeof": 1


See IntelliSense for your package.json file.

package json intellisense

Emmet syntax

Support for Emmet syntax.

emmet syntax


Create custom snippets

File > Preferences > Configure User Snippets, select the language, and create a snippet.

"create component": {
    "prefix": "component",
    "body": [
        "class $1 extends React.Component {",
        "\trender() {",
        "\t\treturn ($2);",

See more details in Creating your own Snippets.

Git integration

Keyboard Shortcut: ⌃⇧G (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+G)

Git integration comes with VS Code "out-of-the-box". You can install other SCM providers from the Extension Marketplace. This section describes the Git integration but much of the UI and gestures are shared by other SCM providers.


From the Source Control view, select a file to open the diff.

git diff from source control

Alternatively, click the Open Changes button in the top right corner to diff the current open file.


The default view for diffs is the side by side view.

Toggle inline view by clicking the More Actions (...) button in the top right and selecting Toggle Inline View.

git switch to inline diff

If you prefer the inline view, you can set "diffEditor.renderSideBySide": false.

Accessible Diff Viewer

Navigate through diffs with F7 and ⇧F7 (Windows, Linux Shift+F7). This will present them in a unified patch format. Lines can be navigated with arrow keys and pressing Enter will jump back in the diff editor and the selected line.


Edit pending changes

You can make edits directly in the pending changes of the diff view.


Easily switch between Git branches via the Status Bar.

switch branches


Stage file changes

Hover over the number of files and click the plus button.

Click the minus button to unstage changes.

git stage all

Stage selected

Stage a portion of a file by selecting that file (using the arrows) and then choosing Stage Selected Ranges from the Command Palette.

Undo last commit

Click the (...) button and then select Undo Last Commit to undo the previous commit. The changes are added to the Staged Changes section.

undo last commit

See Git output

VS Code makes it easy to see what Git commands are actually running. This is helpful when learning Git or debugging a difficult source control issue.

Use the Toggle Output command (⇧⌘U (Windows Ctrl+Shift+U, Linux Ctrl+K Ctrl+H)) and select Git in the dropdown.

Gutter indicators

View diff decorations in editor. See documentation for more details.

git gutter indicators

Resolve merge conflicts

During a merge, go to the Source Control view (⌃⇧G (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+G)) and make changes in the diff view.

You can resolve merge conflicts with the inline CodeLens which lets you Accept Current Change, Accept Incoming Change, Accept Both Changes, and Compare Changes.

Set VS Code as default merge tool

git config --global merge.tool vscode
git config --global mergetool.vscode.cmd 'code --wait $MERGED'

Set VS Code as default diff tool

git config --global diff.tool vscode
git config --global difftool.vscode.cmd 'code --wait --diff $LOCAL $REMOTE'


Configure debugger

From the Run and Debug view (⇧⌘D (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+D)), select create a launch.json file, which will prompt you to select the environment that matches your project (Node.js, Python, C++, etc). This will generate a launch.json file. Node.js support is built-in and other environments require installing the appropriate language extensions. See the debugging documentation for more details.

configure debugging

Breakpoints and stepping through

Place breakpoints next to the line number. Navigate forward with the Debug widget.


Data inspection

Inspect variables in the Run panels and in the console.

data inspection


Logpoints act much like breakpoints but instead of halting the debugger when they are hit, they log a message to the console. Logpoints are especially useful for injecting logging while debugging production servers that cannot be modified or paused.

Add a logpoint with the Add Logpoint command in the left editor gutter and it will be displayed as a "diamond" shaped icon. Log messages are plain text but can include expressions to be evaluated within curly braces ('{}').

Logpoint set in the editor

Triggered breakpoints

A trigged breakpoint is a breakpoint that is automatically enabled once another breakpoint is hit. They can be very useful when diagnosing failure cases in code that happen only after a certain precondition.

Triggered breakpoints can be set by right-clicking on the glyph margin, selecting Add Triggered Breakpoint, and then choosing which other breakpoint enables the breakpoint.

Task runner

Auto detect tasks

Select Terminal from the top-level menu, run the command Configure Tasks, then select the type of task you'd like to run. This will generate a tasks.json file with content like the following. See the Tasks documentation for more details.

  // See
  // for the documentation about the tasks.json format
  "version": "2.0.0",
  "tasks": [
      "type": "npm",
      "script": "install",
      "group": {
        "kind": "build",
        "isDefault": true

There are occasionally issues with auto generation. Check out the documentation for getting things to work properly.

Run tasks from the Terminal menu

Select Terminal from the top-level menu, run the command Run Task, and select the task you want to run. Terminate the running task by running the command Terminate Task

task runner

Define keyboard shortcuts for tasks

You can define a keyboard shortcut for any task. From the Command Palette (⇧⌘P (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+P)), select Preferences: Open Keyboard Shortcuts File, bind the desired shortcut to the workbench.action.tasks.runTask command, and define the Task as args.

For example, to bind Ctrl+H to the Run tests task, add the following:

  "key": "ctrl+h",
  "command": "workbench.action.tasks.runTask",
  "args": "Run tests"

Run npm scripts as tasks from the Explorer

Filter problems

From the explorer you can open a script in the editor, run it as a task, and launch it with the node debugger (when the script defines a debug option like --inspect-brk). The default action on click is to open the script. To run a script on a single click, set npm.scriptExplorerAction to "run". Use the setting npm.exclude to exclude scripts in package.json files contained in particular folders.

With the setting npm.enableRunFromFolder, you can enable to run npm scripts from the File Explorer's context menu for a folder. The setting enables the command Run NPM Script in Folder... when a folder is selected. The command shows a Quick Pick list of the npm scripts contained in this folder and you can select the script to be executed as a task.

Portable mode

VS Code has a Portable mode which lets you keep settings and data in the same location as your installation, for example, on a USB drive.

Insiders builds

The Visual Studio Code team uses the Insiders version to test the latest features and bug fixes of VS Code. You can also use the Insiders version by downloading it here.

  • For Early Adopters - Insiders has the most recent code changes for users and extension authors to try out.
  • Frequent Builds - New builds every day with the latest bug fixes and features.
  • Side-by-side install - Insiders installs next to the Stable build allowing you to use either independently.