Collection of helpful tips and tricks for VS Code.
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VS Code Tips and Tricks

Table of Contents

  1. Basics
  2. Customization
  3. Extensions
  4. File and folder management
  5. Editing hacks
  6. Intellisense
  7. Snippets
  8. Git integration
  9. Debugging
  10. Task runner
  11. Other Resources

The key bindings below may or may not be accurate with the latest build. See here for the latest keyboard shortcut reference.


Insider Version of VS Code

The VS Code team uses the Insiders version to test the latest features and bug fixes of VS Code. You can use this same version by downloading here.

  • For Early Adopters - Insiders has the most recent code changes and may lead to the occasional broken build.
  • Frequent Builds - New builds everyday with the latest bug fixes and features.
  • Side-by-side install - Insiders installs next to the Stable build allowing you to use either independently.

side by side install

Getting Started

Open the welcome page to get started with the basics of VS Code. Help -> Welcome.

welcome page

Includes the interactive playground.

interactive playground

Command Palette

Access all available commands based on your current context.

Mac: cmd+shift+p or f1

Windows / Linux: ctrl+shift+p or f1

command palette

Reference keybindings

All of the commands are in the command palette with the associated key binding (if it exists). If you forget what the key binding is use the command palette to help you out.

keyboard references

Quick open

Quickly open files.

Mac: cmd+p

Windows / Linux: ctrl+p

Quick Open

Tip: Type "?" to view help suggestions.

CLI tool

Linux: Follow instructions here.

Windows: Follow instructions here.

Mac: see below.

Open the command palette (F1) and type "shell command". Hit enter to execute "Shell Command: Install 'code' command in PATH".

shell command

# open code with current directory
code .

# create a new window
code -n

# change the language
code --locale=es

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

# see help options
code --help

# disable all extensions
code --disable-extensions .

all cli commands

.vscode folder

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

Status bar decorations

Errors and Warnings

Mac: shift+cmd+m

Windows / Linux: ctrl+shift+m

Quickly jump to errors and warnings in the project.

Cycle through errors with f8 or shift+f8

errors and warnings

Change language mode

Mac: cmd+k m

Windows / Linux: ctrl+k m

change syntax


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

Check out the full documentation.

Change your theme

Open the command palatte and type "themes". You can install more themes from the extension Marketplace.

Preview themes

Additionally, you can install and change your file icon themes.

File icon themes

Change your keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard Reference Sheets

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

Keyboard Reference Sheet


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 -> Keymap Extensions to see the current list on the Marketplace. Some of the more popular ones:

Customize your keyboard shortcuts

Open the command palatte and type "Keyboard Shortcuts." You can now add your own keybindings in the file on the right.

customize keyboard shortcuts

See more in the Official Documentation.

Tune your settings

Open settings.json

Mac: cmd+,

Windows / Linux: File -> Preferences -> User Settings

Format on paste

"editor.formatOnPaste": true

Change the font size

"editor.fontSize": 18

Change the zoom level

"window.zoomLevel": 5

Font ligatures

"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": true

Format on save

"editor.formatOnSave": true,

Change the size of tab characters

"editor.tabSize": 4

Spaces or tabs

"editor.insertSpaces": true

Render whitespace

"editor.renderWhitespace": true

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 others.

Language specific settings

For those settings you only want for specific languages.

"[languageid]": {

Tip: You can find the language ID by typing in the command palatte "Configure language specific settings"

language based settings

Add JSON Validation

Enabled by default for many files. 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 documentation.


Find extensions

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

Install extensions

Click the extension activity bar button. You can search via the search bar or click the more button to filter and sort by install count.

install extensions

Extension recommendations

Click the extension activity bar button. Then click "Show Recommended Extensions" in the more 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 documentation, specifically check out the documentation on contribution points.

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

File and folder management

Integrated terminal

Windows / Linux / Mac: ctrl+`

Integrated terminal

Further reading:


Open settings.json with cmd+,

"files.autoSave": "afterDelay"

Toggle sidebar

Mac: cmd+b

Windows / Linux: ctrl+b

toggle side bar

Zen Mode

Mac: cmd+k z

Windows / Linux: ctrl+k z

zen mode

Enter distraction free mode.

Side by side editing

Mac: cmd+\ or cmd then click a file from the file browser.

Windows / Linux: ctrl+\

Linux: ctrl+2

split editors

Switch between editors

Mac: cmd+1, cmd+2, cmd+3

Windows / Linux: ctrl+1, ctrl+2, ctrl+3

navigate editors

Move to Explorer window

Mac: cmd+shift+e

Windows / Linux: ctrl+shift+e

Create and open a file

Mac: cmd+click

Windows / Linux: ctrl+click

create and open file

Close the currently opened folder

Mac: cmd+w

Linux: ctrl+k f


Navigate entire history with ctrl+tab

Navigate back.

Mac: ctrl+-

Windows / Linux: alt+left

Navigate Forward.

Mac: ctrl+shift+-

Windows / Linux: alt+right

navigate history

Navigate to a file

Mac: cmd+e or cmd+p

Windows / Linux: ctrl+e or ctrl+p

navigate to file

File associations

Setup language associations for files that aren't detected accurately (i.e. many config files).

"file.associations": {
    ".database": "json"

Editing hacks

Here are 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.

Multi cursor selection

Mac: opt+cmd+up or opt+cmd+down

Windows: ctrl+alt+up or ctrl+alt+down

Linux: alt+shift+up or alt+shift+down

multi cursor

multi cursor second example

Add more cursors to current selection.

add cursor to all occurrences of current selection

Join line

Mac: ctrl+j

Windows / Linux: Not bound by default. Open Keyboard shortcuts and bind editor.action.joinLines to a shortcut of your choice.

Join lines

Copy line up / down

Mac: opt+shift+up or opt+shift+down

Windows / Linux(Issue #5363): shift+alt+down or shift+alt+up

copy line down

Shrink / expand selection

More in documentation

Mac: ctrl+shift+cmd+left or ctrl+shift+cmd+right

Windows / Linux: shift+alt+left or shift+alt+right

shrink expand selection

Find by symbol

Mac: cmd+shift+o

Windows / Linux: ctrl+shift+o

Find by symbol

Navigate to a specific line

Mac: ctrl+g or cmd+p, :

Windows / Linux: ctrl+g

navigate to line

Undo cursor position

Mac: cmd+u

Windows / Linux: ctrl+u

undo cursor position

Move line up and down

Mac: opt+up or opt+down

Windows / Linux: alt+up or alt+down

move line up and down

Trim trailing whitespace

Mac: cmd+shift+x

Windows / Linux: ctrl+k ctrl+x

trailing whitespace

Code formatting

Currently selected source code

Mac: cmd+k, cmd+f

Windows / Linux: ctrl+k, ctrl+f

Whole document format

Windows / Linux: shift+alt+f

code formatting

Code folding

Mac: shift+cmd+[ and shift+cmd+]

Windows / Linux: ctrl+shift+[ and ctrl+shift+]

code folding

Select current line

Mac: cmd+i

Windows / Linux: ctrl+i

select current line

Navigate to beginning and end of file

Mac: cmd+up and cmd+down

Windows: ctrl+up and ctrl+down

Linux: ctrl+home and ctrl+end

navigate to beginning and end of file

Toggle README preview

In a markdown file use

Mac: shift+cmd+v

Windows / Linux: ctrl+shift+v

toggle readme preview

Side by Side Markdown Edit and Preview

In a markdown file use

Linux: ctrl+k v

Special bonus: The preview will now sync.

markdown sync


Anytime, try ctrl+space to trigger the suggest widget.


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


Select a symbol then type alt+f12. Alternatively, you can use the context menu.


Go to definition

Select a symbol then type f12. Alternatively, you can use the context menu.

go to definition

Find all references

Select a symbol then type shift+f12. Alternatively, you can use the context menu.

find all references

Rename symbol

Select a symbol then type f2. Alternatively, you can use the context menu.

rename symbol


Install eslint extension. Configure your linter however you'd like. Specification is here.

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 -> User Snippets, select the language, and create a snippet.

"create component": {
    "prefix": "component",
    "body": [
        "class $1 extends React.Component {",
        "	render() {",
        "		return ($2);",
        " 	}",

See more details in documentation.

Git Integration


Click Git icon then select the file to diff.

git icon

Side by side

Default is side by side diff.

git diff side by side

Inline view

Toggle inline view by clicking more button in the top right.

more git button

git inline


Easily switch between branches via the status bar.

switch branches


Stage all

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

git stage all

Stage selected

Stage a portion of a file by selecting that file (using the arrows) and then staging "selected lines" via the more button.

git stage selected

Undo last commit

undo last commit

See Git output

Sometimes I want to see what my tool is doing. Visual Studio Code makes it easy to see what git commands are running. This is helpful when learning git or debugging a difficult source control issue.

Mac: shift+cmd+u

Windows / Linux: ctrl+shift+u

to run toggleOutput. 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 click the git icon and make changes in the diff view.

git icon

Setup VS Code as default merge tool

git config --global merge.tool code


Configure debugger

f1 and select "Debug: Open Launch.json", select the environment. This will generate a launch.json file. Works out of the box as expected for Node and other environments. May need some additional configuration for other languages. See 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 debug panels and in the console.

data inspection

Task Runner

Auto detect tasks

f1, type "Configure Task", then select "Configure Task Runner". This will generate a task.json file with content like the following. See documentation for more details.

	// See
	// for the documentation about the tasks.json format
	"version": "0.1.0",
	"command": "npm",
	"isShellCommand": true,
	"showOutput": "always",
	"suppressTaskName": true,
	"tasks": [
			"taskName": "install",
			"args": ["install"]
			"taskName": "build",
			"args": ["run", "build"]

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

Run tasks from command palette

f1, run the command "Run Task", and select the task you want to run. Terminate the running task by running the command "Terminate Running Task"

task runner

Other Resources