You either want to reveal the current file in the VS Code Explorer sidebar view or in your OS file manager. We cover both in this article.
Reveal current file in Explorer view in VS Code
To reveal the current file in the Explorer view of Visual Studio Code, use the Reveal Active File in Explorer View command, accessible from the Command Palette.
Why is it useful to reveal the current file in the VS Code Explorer view?
When working on a project with numerous files and directories, it can sometimes be challenging to remember the exact location of a specific file. Revealing the current file in the VS Code Explorer view allows you to quickly locate the file’s position within the project structure.
Context: This is particularly useful when you want to gain a broader context of where the file is located in relation to other files and folders.
Navigation: And you can easily navigate to these related files.
File management: VS Code’s Explorer view provides file management capabilities, such as renaming, moving, and deleting files. If you’re currently editing a file and you want to perform a management action on it, revealing the file in the Explorer view makes it easier to perform these actions without having to manually navigate through the directory structure.
Version control: If your project is under version control like Git, revealing the current file in the Explorer view can help you understand the file’s status in the context of version control. You can see if the file has been modified, staged, or is part of a particular branch, which can aid in your development workflow.
Collaboration: When working on a project with others, revealing the current file can help your team members easily find and access the same file you’re working on. This is especially useful if you’re discussing a specific file in a conversation or during a code review.
Use the Reveal in File Explorer View command
To reveal the current file in the Explorer view in VS Code, run the Reveal Active File in Explorer View command.
In VS Code, we have commands – defined actions that carry our various operations in the editor.
We can easily run a command with the Command Palette, which we can access with these keyboard shortcuts:
Windows / Linux: Ctrl + Shit + P
Mac: Command + Shift + P
Reveal current file in Explorer with active editor context menu
You can also reveal the current file in the VS Code Explorer sidebar with the Reveal in Explorer View option in the context menu that shows up when you right-click the filename at the top.
This item is also there in the context menu that shows when you right-click the file in the Source Control view.
Reveal current file in Windows File Explorer / Mac Finder
To reveal the current file in your operating system’s file manager, use the Reveal in File Explorer command, accessible from the Command Palette.
By the way, if you’re on Windows 11 and you’re dealing with File Explorer clutter, this tiny utility called WinENFET can help, by automatically opening File Explorer in a new tab, instead of a new window.
Why is it useful to reveal the current file in File Explorer/Finder?
When managing a project that includes many files and folders, it can occasionally become difficult to recall the precise location of a particular file. By displaying the current file in your operating system’s file manager, you can swiftly identify the file’s place within the project hierarchy.
This is useful for several reasons:
Context: Helps you understand and navigate your project’s larger file hierarchy. This is especially helpful in large projects with complex file structures.
External operations: You can perform actions not available in VS Code, like viewing file properties (creation date, size, etc.) or file permissions.
Data transfer: Allows you to quickly locate the path for file transfers. If you need to send the file as an email attachment or upload it to a server, you can quickly find it in the operating system’s file manager.
Easy access: If you’re working with a file in VS Code and you want to quickly open it in another application, revealing the file in the file manager makes this easy.
Collaboration: If you’re working with a team, it’s easy to reveal the file in the file manager, zip it, and send it to team members as needed.
Use the Reveal in File Explorer command
To reveal the current file in your OS’s file manager in VS Code, run the Reveal in File Explorer command.
In VS Code, we have commands: defined actions that carry out various operations in the editor.
We can easily run a command with the Command Palette, which we can access with these keyboard shortcuts:
Windows / Linux: Ctrl + Shit + P
Mac:Command + Shift + P
Reveal current file in File Explorer with active editor context menu
Alternatively, you can reveal the current file in your OS’s file manager with the Reveal in File Explorer option in the context menu that shows up when you right-click the filename at the top.
Set custom keyboard shortcuts for commands in VS Code
To set a custom keyboard shortcut for the Reveal in File Explorer or Reveal Active File in Explorer View command, change the keybinding for the command in the Keyboard Shortcuts page.
To get this page, you can click the Keyboard Shortcuts item on the Manage popup shown below or use the shortcut next to the text (Ctrl + K, Ctrl + S here).
Once you get there, search for the Reveal in File Explorer or Reveal Active File in Explorer View command in the search bar.
Then double-click the command, type a new keyboard shortcut, and press the Enter key to carry out the change.
To reveal a file in the VS Code Explorer view, run the Reveal Active File in Explorer View command. You can do this with the Command Palette, or by setting a custom keyboard shortcut.
To reveal a file in your OS file manager (Windows File Explorer, Mac Finder, etc.), run the Reveal in File Explorer command. You can also do this with the Command Palette, or by setting a custom keyboard shortcut.
To set a keyboard shortcut for a command in VS Code, open the Keyboard Shortcuts page, select the command, type the new short, and confirm with Enter.
Did you know that 73% of developers worldwide rely on the same code editor?
Yes, the 2023 Stack Overflow Developer Survey results are in, and yet again, Visual Studio Code was by far the most used development environment.
And we all know why: it’s awesome.
But are we fully exploring its potential? In this article, we unfold some compelling VS Code features that enhance productivity with local source control, animated typing, and rapid line deletion, amongst others. Let us start using them to achieve our coding goals faster than ever.
1. Timeline view: local source control
The Timeline view gives us local source control.
Many of us know how useful Git and other source control tools are, helping us easily track file changes and revert back to a previous point when needed.
So the Timeline view in VS Code provides an automatically updated timeline of important events related to a file, such as Git commits, file saves, and test runs.
Expand this view to see a list of snapshot of events related to the current file. Here it’s file saves, but also Git commits where the file was staged.
Hover over the snapshot item to view the date and time when VS Code made the snapshot.
Select a snapshot item to see a diff view showing the changes between the file at the snapshot time and the file presently.
2. Autosave: no more Ctrl + S
Can you count how many times you’ve used this shortcut? You probably do it unconsciously now.
The Autosave feature automatically saves files as we work on them, removing the need for manual saving. With autosave, we eliminate Ctrl + S fatigue, save time, and gain certainty of always working with the latest changes to the files.
It’s not perfect though, and it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons – which we comprehensively cover here.
Use File > Auto Save to enable the feature easily.
3. Do anything with Command Palette
Almost anything you do in VS Code apart from typing is a “Command”.
Commands let us accomplish tasks within the editor, and they include file-related commands, navigation commands, editing commands, and terminal commands, each optimally designed to enhance different aspects of your editing experience.
So with Command Palette we simply search for a command and select to perform the associated action.
To open the Command Palette, use this keyboard shortcut:
Windows/Linux: Ctrl + Shift + P
Mac: Shift + Command+ P
As you guessed correctly, those keyboard shortcuts to the right are a faster way to run the commands with the keyboard.
The key benefit of the Command Palette over shortcuts is when there’s a command without a shortcut, or you’re looking for a command you’re not sure exists.
4. Go to file quickly
The mouse is too slow.
Yes, you can click on the file in the Explorer pane, but for a much faster alternative use Ctrl + P to search for and open a specific file in your project.
Hold Ctrl and press Tab to cycle through the list of files currently open in an editor instance.
You can even use Alt + Left and Alt + Right to quickly navigate between these open files.
All these are much faster ways to get to a file than using the cursor.
5. Go to line quickly
Jump, don’t scroll.
Quickly navigating to a line is invaluable during debugging when you need to encounter errors at specific line numbers. By jumping to those lines, you can examine the code in that particular context, evaluate variables, and troubleshoot the issue.
Use the Ctrl + G keyboard shortcut for this.
6. Delete line quickly
You’ve got to the line now, what if you want to delete it?
Will you drag and drag to highlight and then press Delete? Will you tirelessly press Backspace until every character is gone?
Or, will you use the Ctrl + Shift + K shortcut to rapidly delete that and dozens more lines in a matter of seconds?
7. Enjoy typing with smooth cursor
VS Code has this smooth cursor feature that animates the cursor as it moves, like in MS Word. This makes typing feel more fluid and polished, as well as giving us a smoother and more natural feel as we navigate through the lines of code and place the cursor at different points.
To turn it on, opens Settings UI in the Command Palette and search for “smoot caret”.
We are looking for Editor: Cursor Smooth Caret Animation setting, which has 3 possible options:
off: No smooth cursor animation
explicit: Only animates the cursor when we explicitly place it somewhere in the code.
on: Smooth cursor animation is always enabled – including when typing.
Set it to on to get the full visual experience.
8. Format code rapidly
Formatting is all about improving code readability by organizing it in a structured and consistent manner.
And if you’ve been doing this manually, you need to know that there’s a better way.
Yes, you need to start formatting code automatically with the Format Document command, easily accessible in the Command Palette. Depending on the current file’s language, a particular “default” formatter will be used to format the code using various rules of indentation, line length, braces and brackets, etc.
While there’s a pretty decent built-in JS/TS formatter, for a more robust solution, I highly recommend the Prettier extension.
After installing, you’ll set it as your default formatter.
When you use manual over autosave, there’s a feature you should enable to make formatting a bit easier:
Editor: Format On Save: “Format a file on save. A formatter must be available, the file must not be saved after delay, and the editor must be shutting down”. It is disabled by default.
So with this setting on, VS Code will automatically format your code with the current default formatter when you save the file with Ctrl + S, as you saw in the above demo.
When you do autosave, it can get tedious to continuously open the Command Palette when you’re formatting every now and then. And that’s what keyboard shortcuts are for:
Windows: Shift + Alt + F
Mac: Shift + Option + F
Linux: Ctrl + Shift + I
I’m on Windows and personally, I don’t like this default keyboard shortcut; autosave makes me format every now and then, and Shift + Alt + F got agonizing after a while.
So I changed it to Ctrl + D, Ctrl + D – a keyboard shortcut chord that’s much easier to press and remember, and has no conflicting keybinding. I recommend you do the same.
9. Save time with multi-cursor editing
One of the wow moments in my earliest VS Code days, the multi-cursor editing lets you place multiple cursors at different points, and delete or insert the same text multiple times. This speeds up editing time and boosts productivity greatly, as we get repetitive tasks done efficiently with rapid code creation.
Of course, when editing, there’s always at least one cursor. Use Alt + Click to add more.
You can also easily add a cursor directly above or below the current line, with Ctrl + Alt + Down or Ctrl + Alt + Up.
These shortcuts call the Add Cursor Below and Add Cursor Above commands respectively.
10. Create new folder / file quickly
There’s no serious project where we don’t create new folders and files, and if there was a way to accelerate file/folder creation, all the time saved would add up to give us a significant productivity enhancement.
If you’ve been creating new files and folders in VS Code with the new file and new folder button, then yes, there is a way.
Instead of constantly moving your mouse to locate those small buttons, did you know you can just double-click on the Explorer panel to create a new file?
How about a new folder? Well, folders are nothing without files, and when you’re creating a new file, you can easily use the / character to indicate a hierarchy and create new folders and sub-folders to contain that file.
It would be even more efficient to use keyboard shortcuts, which is what I did.
As a former Atom fan, I had quickly gotten used to the A and Shift + A shortcuts for creating new files and folder respectively; I knew what I had to do.
Since A and Shift + A are obviously keys used to code, I included the when values here to make sure they only create a new file/folder when the Explorer pane has focus and there’s no active cursor in the current editor.
So to use these shortcuts when typing, you’ll have to focus on the explorer pane first; click on it, or use Ctrl/Command + Shift + E.
Enable local source control with Timeline view; available in Explorer pane by default.
Autosave files with File > Autosave.
Run commands in Command Palette with Ctrl + Shift + P or Shift + Command + P.
Go to a file with Ctrl + P, navigate between open files with Alt + Left/Right or Ctrl + Tab.
Go to a line with Ctrl + G.
Delete a line with Ctrl + Shift + K
Enable smooth typing with Editor: Cursor Smooth Caret Animation setting.
Format code with Format Document command, use Prettier, change shortcut to Ctrl + D, Ctrl + D
Use multiple cursors at once with Alt + Click, Ctrl + Alt + Up/Down adds one above/below
Move a line up or down with Alt/Option + Up/Down in Windows/Mac
Create a new file by double-clicking the Explorer pane or set a custom keyboard shortcut. Create a new file in a new folder with “folder/file.ext“
Visual Studio Code is more than just a text editor—it’s a powerful tool that, when mastered, can significantly boost your productivity and streamline your coding workflow. The ten tips and tricks we’ve explored are just the tip of the iceberg. As you continue to navigate through VS Code, you will discover a myriad of other features and shortcuts that will further enhance your coding experience. So, keep exploring, keep learning, and remember: the key to efficient coding lies not just in the code itself, but also in the tools you use to write it.
To move a line up or down in Visual Studio Code, use this keyboard shortcut:
Windows and Linux: Alt + ↑ (Up arrow) to move line up; Alt + ↓ (Down arrow) to move line down.
Mac: Option + ↑ to move line up; Option + ↓ to move line down.
Move selection up or down in VS Code
Similarly, to move a selection up or down in Visual Studio Code, use this keyboard shortcut:
Windows and Linux: Alt + ↑ (Up arrow) to move selection up, Alt + ↓ (Down arrow) to move selection down.
Mac: Option + ↑ to move selection up, Option + ↓ to move selection down.
Why would you need to move a line/selection up or down in code?
Refactoring: When cleaning up your code, you may need to move lines of code around in and out of functions and classes, to make it more readable and maintainable.
Debugging: Like when fixing that error caused by using a variable before declaration/initializing it; with the keyboard shortcuts you easily move the declaration line up before the usage.
Changing control flow: For those instances where the order of function calls or assignments need to change to reflect a new code logic update.
Commands in Visual Studio Code
In VS Code, we have commands, defined actions that carry our various operations in the editor.
We can easily run a command with the Command Palette, which we can access with these keyboard shortcuts:
Windows / Linux: Ctrl + Shit + P
Mac:Command + Shift + P
The Move Line Up command in VS Code
To move a line/selection up in Visual Studio Code, we use the Move Line Up command.
Or with the keyboard shortcuts:
Windows/Linux: Alt + ↑ (Up arrow)
Mac: Option + ↑
The Move Line Down command in VS Code
In the same manner, to move a line/selection down in Visual Studio Code, we use the Move Line Down command.
Or with the keyboard shortcuts:
Windows/Linux: Alt + ↓ (Down arrow)
Mac:Option + ↓
Change keyboard shortcut to move line up or down
Personally, I think they’re fine, but if you don’t like the keyboard shortcut to move the line up or down, then navigate to the Keyboard Shortcuts page and change the keybinding for the Move Line Up and Move Line Down commands.
There are multiple ways to get this page; you can click the Keyboard Shortcuts item on the Manage popup shown below or use the shortcut next to the text (Ctrl + K Ctrl + S) here.
To change the keybinding, search for “move line up” or “move line down” in the search bar.
Then double-click on the Move Line Up or Move Line Down command, type a new keyboard shortcut, and press the Enter key to carry out the change.
The change here was Ctrl + E, Ctrl + E – certainly not the smartest choice, but now you’ve seen how it works.
To move a line or selection up or down in Visual Studio Code, use the Alt + ↑ (Up arrow) for up and Alt + ↓ (Down arrow).
Moving lines or selections up or down in code can be useful for refactoring, debugging, and changing control flow.
You can change the keyboard shortcut to move a line up or down by changing the Move Line Up and Move Line Down command.
Autosave has grown in popularity recently and become the default for many developers and teams, a must-have feature for various code editors. Apps like Visual Studio stubbornly refuse to fully provide the feature, and others make it optional. WebStorm, PHPStorm, and other JetBrains products have it enabled by default; for VSCode, you have to turn it on if you want it.
So obviously, we have two opposing views on the value of autosave because even though it can be highly beneficial, it has its downsides. In this article, we’ll look at both sides of the autosave divide, good causes for turning it off and good causes not to.
Why you should stop autosaving your code
First, some reasons to think twice before enabling autosave in your code editor:
1. Higher and wasted resource usage
When using tools that perform an expensive action any time the file is changed and saved, like build watchers, continuous testing tools, FTP client file syncers, etc, turning on autosave will make these actions much more often. They will also happen when there are errors in the file, and when you make a tiny change. It might instead be preferable for these tools to run only when they need to; when you reach a point where you really want to see the results of your changes.
With greater CPU and memory usage comes lower battery usage and more heat from higher CPU temperature. Admittedly, this will continue to become less and less of an issue as computers increase in processing power, memory capacity, and battery life across the board. But depending on your particular situation, you might want to conserve these things as much as possible.
2. Harder to recover from unexpected errors
With autosave enabled, any single change you make to your code file is written to disk, whether these changes leave your file in a valid state or not. This makes it harder to recover from unwanted changes.
What if you make an unintended and possibly buggy change, maybe from temporarily trying something out, and then close the file accidentally or unknowingly (autosave makes this more likely to happen)? With your Undo history wiped out, it will be harder to recover the previous working version of the file. You might even forget how the code used to look before the change, and then have to expend some mental effort to take the code back to what it was.
Of course, using version control tools like Git and Mercurial significantly decrease the chances of this happening. Still, the previous working version of the file you would want to recover could be one with uncommitted changes, not available from version control, especially if you don’t commit very frequently or you have a commit scheduling determined by more than just the code working after small changes, e.g., committing when a mini milestone is reached, committing after every successful build, etc.
So if you want to continue enjoying the benefits of auto-save while minimizing the possibility of this issue occurring, it’s best if you always use source control and have a frequent commit schedule.
3. No auto-formatting on save
Many IDEs and text editors have a feature that automatically formats your code, so you can focus on the task at hand. For example, VSCode has built-in auto-formatting functionality, and also allows extensions to be written to provide more advanced or opinionated auto-formatters for various languages and file extensions.
These editors typically provide an option to format the file when it is saved. For manual saving, this makes sense, as usually you Ctrl/Cmd + S after making a small working change to a file and stop typing. This seems like a great point for formatting, so it’s a great idea to combine it with the saving action so there’s no need to think about it.
However, this feature isn’t very compatible with auto-save, and that’s why editors/IDEs like WebStorm and VSCode do not format your code for you on auto-save (you can still press Ctrl (Cmd) + S for it to happen, but isn’t one of the reasons for enabling auto-save to avoid this over-used keyboard shortcut?).
For one, it would probably be annoying for the cursor to change position due to auto-formatting as you’re typing. And then, there’s also the thing we already talked about earlier – the file won’t always be syntactically valid after an auto-save, and the auto-formatter will fail.
There is one way though, to have auto-formatting while still leaving auto save turned on, and that is enabling auto-formatting on commit. You can do this using Git pre-commit hooks provided by tools like Prettier and Husky.
Still only happens on commit though, so unless your code is not too messed up or you’re ready to format manually, you’ll have to endure the disorderliness until your next commit (or just press that Ctrl + S).
4. Can be distracting
If you have a tool in your project that performs an action when files are saved and indicate this visually in your editor, i.e, a pop-up notification to indicate recompilation, output in the terminal to indicate rebuilding, etc. With auto-save turned on, it can be a bit distracting for these actions to occur whenever you stop typing for a little while.
For instance, in this demo, notice how the terminal output in VSCode changes wildly from typing in a small bunch of characters:
Text editors have tried to fix this problem (and the resource usage problem too) by adding autosave delays; waiting a certain period of time since the file was last changed before actually committing the changes to disk.
This reduces the frequency at which the save-triggering actions occur and solves the issue to an extent, but it’s a trade-off as lack of immediate saving produces another non-ideal situation.
5. Auto-save is not immediate
Having an auto-save delay means that your code file will not be saved immediately. This can lead to some problems:
Probably the biggest motivator for enabling auto-save is to reduce the likelihood that you’ll lose all the hard work you’ve put into creating code should an unexpected event like a system crash or the forced closing of the application occur. The higher your auto-save delay, the greater the chance of this data loss happening.
VSCode takes this into account; when its auto-save delay is set to 2 or more seconds, it will show the unsaved file indicator for a recently modified file, and the unsaved changes warning dialog if you try to close the file until the delay completes.
On-save action lags
Tools that run on save like build watchers will be held back by the auto-save delay. With manual save, you know that hitting Ctrl + S will make the watcher re-build immediately, but with delayed auto-save, you’ll have to experience the lag between your finishing and the watcher reacting to changes. This could impact the responsiveness of your workflow.
Why you should autosave your code
The reasons above probably won’t be enough to convince many devs to disable autosave. It is a fantastic feature after all. And now let’s look at some of the reasons why it’s so great to have:
1. No more Ctrl + S fatigue
If you use manual save, you probably press this keyboard shortcut hundreds or even thousands of times in a working day. Auto-saving helps you avoid this entirely. Even if you’re very used to it now, once you get used to your files being autosaved, you’ll be hesitant to back to the days of carrying out the ever-present chore of Ctrl + S.
Eradicating the need for Ctrl + S might even lower your chances of suffering from repetitive strain injury, as you no longer have to move your wrists and fingers over and over to type the key combination.
2. Save time and increase productivity
The time you spend pressing the key combination to save a file might not seem like much, but it does add up over time. Turning auto-save on lets you use this time for more productive activities. Of course, if you just switched to auto-save, you’ll have to work on unlearning your Ctrl + S reflex for this to be a benefit to you.
3. Certainty of working with latest changes
Any good automation turns a chore into a background operation you no longer have to think about. This is what auto-save does to saving files; no longer are you unsure of whether you’re working with the most recent version of the file. Build watchers and other on-file-change tools automatically run after the file’s contents are modified, and display output associated with the latest file version.
4. Avoids errors due to file not being saved
This follows from the previous point. Debugging can be a tedious process and it’s not uncommon for developers to forget to save a file when tirelessly hunting for bugs. You probably don’t want to experience the frustration of scrutinizing your code, line after line, wondering how this particular bug can still exist after everything you’ve done.
You might think I’m exaggerating, but it might take up to 15 (20? 30??) minutes before you finally notice the unsaved file indicator. Especially if you’ve been trapped in a cycle of making small changes, saving, seeing the futility of your changes, making more small changes, saving… when you’re finally successful and pressing Ctrl + S is the only issue, you might just assume your change didn’t work, instead of checking for other possible reasons for the reoccurrence of the error.
5. Encourages smaller changes due to triggering errors faster
When a tool performs an action due to a file being saved, the new contents of the file might be invalid and trigger an error. For example, a test case might fail when a continuous testing tool re-runs or there might be a syntax error when a build watcher re-builds.
Since this type of on-file-change action occur more (possibly much more) when files are auto-saved when you type code that causes an error, it will take a shorter time for the action to happen and for you to be notified of the error. You would have made a smaller amount of code changes, which will make it easier to identify the source of the error.
Autosave is an amazing feature with the potential to significantly improve your quality of life as a developer when used properly. Still, it’s not without its disadvantages, and as we saw in this article, enabling or disabling it is a trade-off to live with. Choose auto-format on save and lower CPU usage, or choose to banish Ctrl + S forever and gain the certainty of working with up-to-date files.
What are your views concerning the autosave debate? Please let me know in the comments!
The number of VSCode extensions you have installed is one of the main reasons why you might find the editor slow and power-hungry, as every new extension added increases the app’s memory and CPU usage. It’s important to keep this number as low as possible to minimize this resource consumption, and also reduce the chance of the extensions clashing with one another or with native functionality.
There are a significant number of extensions in the Marketplace that provide functionality VSCode already has built-in. Typically, they were developed at a time when the feature was yet to be added, but now that this is no longer the case, they are now largely redundant additions, and some of them have been deprecated for this reason.
Below, we cover a list of these integrated VSCode features and extensions that provide them. Uninstalling these now dispensable extensions will increase your editor’s performance and efficiency.
We’ll be listing settings that control the behavior of these features. If you don’t know how to change settings, this guide will help.
An auto-trimming feature removes trailing whitespace from all the lines of a file, ensuring more consistent formatting.
The extensions let you trim trailing whitespace from a file:
Trailing Spaces (1.2M downloads): “Highlight trailing spaces and delete them in a flash!”.
AutoTrim (27.5K downloads): “Trailing whitespace often exists after editing lines of code, deleting trailing words, and so forth. This extension tracks the line numbers where a cursor is active, and removes trailing tabs and spaces from those lines when they no longer have an active cursor”.
VSCode has a built-in setting that can automatically remove trailing spaces from a file. Instead of requiring a command or highlight, it automatically trims the file when it is saved, making it a background operation you no longer have to think about.
Here’s the setting:
Files: Trim Trailing Whitespace: “When enabled, will trim trailing whitespace when saving a file”. It’s false by default.
Add this to your settings.json file to enable auto trimming:
You might want to turn this setting off for Markdown files since you have to put two or more spaces at the end of a line to create a hard line break in the output, as stated in the CommonMark specification. Add this to your settings.json file to do so.
Alternatively, you can simply use a backslash (\) instead of spaces to create a hard line break.
3. Path autocompletion
The path autocompletion feature provides a list of files in your project to choose from when importing a module or linking a resource in HTML.
These extensions add the path autocompletion feature to VSCode:
Path IntelliSense (8.5M downloads): “Visual Studio Code Plugin that autocompletes filenames”.
Path Autocomplete (1.2M downloads): “Provides path completion for Visual Studio Code and VS Code for the web”.
VS Code already has native path autocompletion. When you’re about to type in a filename to import (typically when the opening quote is typed), a list of files in the project will be suggested, from which selecting one will automatically insert the filename.
4. Settings Sync
Ever since cross-device syncing support was added to VSCode, we no longer have to turn to third-party extensions for this.
This is by far the most popular extension for syncing VSCode settings:
Settings Sync (3.5M downloads): “Synchronize Settings, Snippets, Themes, File Icons, Launch, Keybindings, Workspaces, and Extensions Across Multiple Machines Using GitHub Gist”.
You can read all about the built-in Settings Sync feature here.
Here are the Setting Sync options shown in the Settings UI.
You can link the settings data with a Microsoft or GitHub account, and you can customize what settings are saved.
5. Snippets for HTML and CSS
These extensions help you save time by adding common HTML and CSS snippets using abbreviations you can easily recall.
These extensions bring convenient HTML and/or CSS snippets to VSCode:
HTML Snippets (8.7M downloads): “Full HTML tags including HTML5 snippets”.
HTML Boilerplate (1.9M downloads): “A basic HTML5 boilerplate snippet generator”.
CSS Snippets (105K downloads): “Shorthand snippets for CSS”.
Emmet is a built-in VSCode feature that provides HTML and CSS snippets like these extensions. As stated in the official VSCode Emmet guide, it is enabled by default in html, haml, pug, slim, jsx, xml, xsl, css, scss, sass, less, and stylus files.
When you start typing an Emmet abbreviation, a suggestion will pop up with auto-completion options. You’ll also see a preview of the expansion as you type in the VSCode’s suggestion documentation fly-out (if it is open).
Notice how similar the abbreviations are to CSS selectors. This is by design; as stated on the official website, Emmet syntax is inspired by CSS selectors.
6. Bracket pair colorization
Bracket pair coloring is a popular syntax highlighting feature that colors brackets differently based on their order. It makes it easier to identify scope and helps in writing expressions that involve many parentheses, such as single-statement function composition.
Until VSCode had it built-in, these extensions helped enable the feature in the editor:
Bracket Pair Colorizer 2 (5.4M downloads): “A customizable extension for colorizing matching brackets”. It has now been deprecated.
After seeing the demand for bracket pair coloring and the performance issues involved in adding the feature as an extension, the VSCode team decided to integrate it into the editor. In this blog, they say that the native bracket pair coloring feature is more than 10,000 times faster than Bracket Pair Colorizer 2.
Here’s the setting to enable/disable bracket pair colorization.
Editor > Bracket Pair Colorization: “Controls whether bracket pair colorization is enabled or not”. It is true by default, there’s been some debate about whether this should be the case here.
You can enable this by adding the following to your settings.json
There is a maximum of 6 colors that can be used for successive nesting levels. Although each theme will have its maximum. For example, the Dracula theme has 6 colors by default, but the One Dark Pro theme has only 3.
Nevertheless, you can customize the bracket colors for any theme with the workbench.colorCustomizations setting.
We specify the name of the theme in square brackets ([ ]), then we assign values to the relevant properties. The editorBracketHighlight.foregroundN property sets the color of the Nth set of brackets, and 6 is the maximum.
Now this will be the bracket pair colorization for One Dark Pro:
7. Auto importing of modules
With an auto-importing feature, when a function, variable, or some other member of a module is referenced in a file, the module is automatically imported into the file, saving time and effort.
If the module files are moved, the feature will help automatically update them.
Here are some of the most popular extensions providing the feature for VSCode users:
Auto Import (2.7M downloads): “Automatically finds, parses, and provides code actions and code completion for all available imports. Works with Typescript and TSX”.
Move TS (606K downloads): “extension for moving typescript files and folders and updating relative imports in your workspace”.
You can enable or disable auto-importing modules in VSCode with the following settings.
TypeScript > Suggest: Auto Imports: “Enable/disable auto import suggestions”. It is true by default.
TypeScript > Update Imports on File Move: “Enable/disable automatic updating of import paths when you rename or move a file in VS Code”. Like the previous setting, it has possible values of prompt, always, and never, and the default is prompt.
You can control these settings with these settings.json properties:
This will remove unused import statements and arrange import statements with absolute paths on top, providing a hands-off way to clean up your code.
These extensions might have served a crucial purpose in the past, but not anymore for the most part, as much of the functionality they provide have been added as built-in VSCode features. Remove them to reduce the bloat and increase the efficiency of Visual Studio Code.
Visual Studio Code is one of the most widely-used source code editors out there, with over 136k stars on GitHub. Its popularity comes about due to its lightness, flexibility, open-source nature, simplicity, and extensibility.
Speaking of extensibility, VS Code has thousands of extensions you can install to ramp up your developer productivity and save yourself from mundane tasks. They are all available in the Visual Studio Code marketplace and the vast majority of them are completely free.
This article looks at 10 powerful Visual Studio Code extensions that significantly improve the web development experience. Example usage and installation links are provided for every one of them.
Prettier is a useful tool that automatically formats your code using opinionated and customizable rules. It ensures that all your code has a consistent format and can help enforce a specific styling convention in a collaborative project involving multiple developers.
The Prettier extension for Visual Studio Code brings about a seamless integration between the code editor and Prettier, allowing you to easily format code using a keyboard shortcut, or immediately after saving the file.
The ESLint extension for Visual Studio Code enables integration between ESLint and the code editor. This integration allows ESLint to notify you of problems right in the editor.
For instance, it can use a red wavy line to notify of errors:
We can view details on the error by hovering over the red line:
We can also use the Problems tab to view all errors in every file in the current VS Code workspace.
The Live Server extension for VS Code starts a local server that serves pages using the contents of files in the workspace. The server will automatically reload when an associated file is changed.
In the demo below, a new server is launched quickly to display the contents of the index.html file. Modifying index.html and saving the file reloads the server instantly. This saves you from having to manually reload the page in the browser every time you make a change.
As you saw in the demo, you can easily launch a new server using the Open with Live Server item in the right-click context menu for a file in the VS Code Explorer.
Artificial Intelligence continues to increase worker productivity in various jobs, and developers are not left out. IntelliCode is a tool that produces smart code completion recommendations that make sense in the current code context. It does this using an AI model that has been trained on thousands of popular open-source projects on GitHub.
When you type the . character to access an object method or fields, IntelliCode will suggest a list of members that are likely to be used in the present scenario. The items in the list are denoted using a star symbol, as shown in the following demo.
Icon packs are available to customize the look of files of different types in Visual Studio Code. They enhance the look of the application and make it easier to identify and distinguish files of various sorts.
VSCode Icons is one the most popular icon pack extensions, boasting a highly comprehensive set of icons and over 11 million downloads.
It goes beyond file extension differentiation, to provide distinct icons for files and folders with specific names, including package.json, node_modules and .prettierrc.