Editing Python in Visual Studio Code

The Python extension provides many features for editing Python source code in Visual Studio Code:

Also see Linting.

Autocomplete and IntelliSense

Autocomplete and IntelliSense are provided for all files within the current working folder and for Python packages that are installed in standard locations. To customize the behavior of the analysis engine, see the code analysis settings and autocomplete settings.

You can also customize the general behavior of autocomplete and IntelliSense, even to disable these features entirely. See Customizing IntelliSense.

Tip: Check out the IntelliCode extension for VS Code (preview). IntelliCode provides a set of AI-assisted capabilities for IntelliSense in Python, such as inferring the most relevant auto-completions based on the current code context. For more information, see the IntelliCode for VS Code FAQ.

Enable IntelliSense for custom package locations

To enable IntelliSense for packages that are installed in other, non-standard locations, add those locations to the python.autoComplete.extraPaths collection in the settings file (the default collection is empty). For example, you might have installed Google App Engine installed in custom locations, in which case you'd specify those locations as follows:


"python.autoComplete.extraPaths": [
    "C:/Program Files (x86)/Google/google_appengine",
    "C:/Program Files (x86)/Google/google_appengine/lib" ]


"python.autoComplete.extraPaths": [
    "~/.local/lib/Google/google_appengine/lib" ]

The python.autoComplete.preloadModules setting also allows you speed up autocomplete for specific packages by preloading their information. For example:

"python.autoComplete.preloadModules": ["numpy", "pandas", "matplotlib"],

Finally, the python.autocomplete.addBrackets setting (default false) determines whether VS Code automatically adds parentheses (()) when autocompleting a function name. For example, if you set addBrackets to true:

  "python.autoComplete.addBrackets": true,

and then write import os followed by os.getc, you'll see autocomplete for os.getcwd. Selecting that auto-complete adds os.getcwd() to your source code and place the cursor inside the parentheses. When the setting is false, only os.getcwd is added to the file.

For more on IntelliSense generally, see IntelliSense.


If autocomplete and IntelliSense are not working for a custom module, check the following causes:

Cause Solution
The path to the python interpreter is incorrect Check the pythonPath setting. Restart VS Code if you make a correction.
The custom module is located in a non-standard location (not installed using pip). Add the location to the python.autoComplete.extraPaths setting and restart VS Code.
VS Code was not launched from the active virtual environment that would set the path to custom modules. Launch VS Code from a command prompt with the correct virtual environment activated, for example: (venv) terminal:~$ code.

Run Selection/Line in Terminal (REPL)

The Python: Run Selection/Line in Python Terminal command (Shift+Enter) is a simple way to take whatever code is selected, or the code on the current line if there is no selection, and run it in the Python Terminal. An identical Run Selection/Line in Python Terminal command is also available on the context menu for a selection in the editor.

Source code that runs in the terminal/REPL is cumulative until the current instance of the terminal is closed.

The command opens the Python Terminal if necessary; you can also open the interactive REPL environment directly using the Python: Start REPL command. Note that initial startup might take a few moments especially if the first statement you run is an import.

On first use of the Python: Run Selection/Line in Python Terminal command, VS Code may send the text to the REPL before that environment is ready, in which case the selection or line is not run. If you encounter this behavior, try the command again when the REPL has finished loading.

Note: At present, using Shift+Enter keeps the editor on the same line of source code. Issue 480 discusses automatically moving to the next line.

Jupyter code cells

Jupyter (formerly IPython) is an open source project that lets you easily combine Markdown text and executable Python source code on one canvas. If you're using an Anaconda environment or any other environment in which the Jupyter package is installed, you can define Jupyter-like code cells within Python code using a #%% comment:

msg = "Hello World"

When the Python extension detects a code cell, it adds a Run Cell or Run All Cells CodeLens above the comment:

Jupyter adornments for code cells in the VS Code editor

Selecting either command starts Jupyter (if necessary, which might take a minute), then runs the cell(s) in the Python interactive window.

Code cells running in a Python Interactive window

You can also run code cells using the Python: Run Selection/Line in Python Terminal command (Shift+Enter). After using this command, the Python extension automatically moves the cursor to the next cell. If you're in the last cell in the file, the extension automatically inserts another #%% delimiter for a new cell, mimicking the behavior of a Jupyter notebook.

Open Jupyter notebooks

You can also open a Jupyter notebook file (.ipynb) in VS Code, and the Python extension prompts you to import the notebook as a Python code file.

Prompt to import a Jupyter notebook file

In you choose Import, the notebook's cells are delimited in the Python file with #%% comments; Markdown cells are converted wholly to comments preceded with #%% [markdown], and render as HTML in the interactive window alongside code and output such as graphs:

Jupyter notebook running in VS Code and the Python interactive window

If you open the file without importing, it appears as plain text.


The Python extension supports source code formatting using either autopep8 (the default), black, or yapf.

General formatting settings

Default value Description
provider "autopep8" Specifies the formatter to use, either "autopep8", "yapf", or "black".

Formatter-specific settings

The following settings apply to the individual formatters. The Python extension looks in the current pythonPath for the formatter. To use a formatter in another location, specify that location in the appropriate custom path setting. The pip install commands may require elevation.

Formatter Install steps Arguments setting
Custom path setting
autopep8 pip install pep8
pip install --upgrade autopep8
autopep8Args autopep8Path
black pip install black blackArgs blackPath
yapf pip install yapf yapfArgs yapfPath

When using custom arguments, each top-level element of an argument string that's separated by space on the command line must be a separate item in the args list. For example:

"python.formatting.autopep8Args": ["--max-line-length", "120", "--experimental"],
"python.formatting.yapfArgs": ["--style", "{based_on_style: chromium, indent_width: 20}"]
"python.formatting.blackArgs": ["--line-length", "100"]

In the second example, the top-level element {based_on_style: chromium, indent_width: 20} is a single value contained in braces, so the spaces within that value don't delineate a separate element.


If formatting fails, check the following possible causes:

Cause Solution
The path to the python interpreter is incorrect. Check the pythonPath setting.
The formatter is not installed in the current environment. Open a command prompt, navigate to the location specified in the pythonPath setting, and run pip install for the formatter.
The path to the formatter is incorrect. Check the value of the appropriate python.formatting.<formatter>Path setting.
Custom arguments for the formatter are incorrect. Check that the appropriate python.formatting.<formatter>Path setting does not contain arguments, and that python.formatting.<formatter>Args contains a list of individual top-level argument elements such as "python.formatting.yapfArgs": ["--style", "{based_on_style: chromium, indent_width: 20}"].

When using the black formatter, VS Code issues the following warning when pasting source code into the editor: Black does not support the "Format Select" command.

To prevent this warning, add the following entry to your user or workspace settings to disable format on paste for Python files:

"[python]": {
    "editor.formatOnPaste": false


The Python extension adds the following refactoring commands: Extract Variable, Extract Method, and Sort Imports.

Extract Variable

Extracts all similar occurrences of the selected text within the current scope, and replaces it with a variable. The new method is given the name newvariableNNN where NNN is a random number.

Invoked by:

  • Context Menu: right-click a selection and select Extract Variable.
  • Command Palette (⇧⌘P (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+P)), then Python Refactor: Extract Variable.
  • Assign a keyboard shortcut to the python.refactorExtractVariable command.

Refactoring a variable

Extract Method

Extracts all similar occurrences of the selected expression or block of within the current scope, and replaces it with a method call. The new method is given the name newmethodNNN where NNN is a random number.

Invoked by:

  • Context Menu: right-click a selection and select Extract Method.
  • Command Palette (⇧⌘P (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+P)), then Python Refactor: Extract Method.
  • Assign a keyboard shortcut to the python.refactorExtractMethod command.

Refactoring code into a method

Sort Imports

Sort Imports uses the isort package to consolidate specific imports from the same module into a single import statement and to organize import statements in alphabetical order.

Invoked by:

  • Right-click in editor and select Sort Imports (no selection is required)
  • Command Palette (⇧⌘P (Windows, Linux Ctrl+Shift+P)), then Python Refactor: Sort Imports
  • Assign a keyboard shortcut to the python.sortImports command
  • Saving a file when sort on save is enabled.

Sorting import statements

Custom arguments to isort are specified in the python.sortImports.args setting, where each top-level element, as separated by spaces on the command line, is a separate item in the array:

"python.sortImports.args": ["-rc", "--atomic"],

To use a custom isort script, use the python.sortImports.path setting to specify the path:

Further configurations can be stored in an .isort.cfg file as documented on Configuring isort.

Next steps

  • Linting - Enable, configure, and apply a variety of Python linters.
  • Debugging - Learn to debug Python both locally and remotely.
  • Unit testing - Configure unit test environments and discover, run, and debug tests.
  • Basic Editing - Learn about the powerful VS Code editor.
  • Code Navigation - Move quickly through your source code.
  • IntelliSense - Learn about IntelliSense features.