Visual Studio Code command palette: tips and tricks

Available for all platforms that VS Code runs on, the command palette allows you to access many commands for VS Code. This post gives you an overview of what the VS Code command palette can do.

Visual Studio Code command palette: tips and tricks

The VS Code Command Palette is one of the best features of VS Code. Available for all platforms that VS Code runs on, the command palette allows you to access many commands for VS Code.

Using the command palette has several benefits. First, it increases the speed, as keystrokes are almost always faster than mouse clicks. Second, it brings ease of use, as there is one place for almost every action.

We suggest you enforce yourself to heavily rely on the command palette. There may be a learning curve at first, however you'll find that you'll feel more productive after starting to use the command palette for a couple of hours.

This blog post explains some of the features of the command palette together with some tips about using it effectively.

Accessing the command palette in VS Code

You can access the VS Code command palette in a number of ways. The easiest way is to use the keyboard shortcuts - Shift+Cmd+P for Mac, and Ctrl+Shift+P (Windows/Linux). Most of the command palettes we research just use Cmd-K, however, VS Code uses a different scheme.

One thing to note that that this command is a reserved keyboard shortcut in Firefox.

Another way to open the VS Code command palette is to press F1, especially useful if you are using a full-fledged keyboard.

Last but not least, clicking View > Command Palette from the application menu will also open the command palette as well.

The application menu
Enabling VS Code command palette from the menu

Note that all of the VS Code 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.

Command palette operators

The best way to think about the command palette is that it uses a convention where the first "indicator" directs it to a subset of commands that are related to each other.

Let's see those operators first. Make sure you memorize them, as different commands will use different indicators.

:    moves cursor to the specified line number in the currently-focused editor.
> Git  opens up the list of Git commands.
?    shows the available subset entrance commands.
>   once you type ">" letter, you'll see all of the commands. Type partial command strings in to search through the available commands.
@   This will display all of the symbols in the currently-focused file. You can also start typing a particular symbol name and you'll see a list.

Transform text commands

You can change selected text to kebab case, snake case, uppercase, lowercase, and title case with the Transform commands from the command palette.

Text transformation using VS Code command palette

Quickly change the color theme

You can change the color theme to light, quite light, or several theme styles from the dark themes as well. For this, type

Changing color theme from VS Code command palette

Open a file instantly

You can directly access to a file using command palette quickly. That is easier and faster than having to lurk around the tree view.

Opening a file with Visual Studio Code command palette

Go to a specific line

Use : directive to go to a specific line in the current file.

Customize your keyboard shortcuts

Open the Command Palette and type "keyboard shortcuts." You can now add your own keybindings in the file on the right.

Command palette & Git integration

Git integration comes with Visual Studio Code out-of-the-box as both companies are under the same umbrella. You can install other source code manager providers from the Extension Marketplace.

For example, you can clone a repository from GitHub using the "Git: Clone" command in the command palette. For more commands that you can use within the VS Code command palette, you can just type Git and you'll see available options.


What is VS Code command palette?

VS Code command palette is a quick and intuitive way to access several commands in VS Code. You can execute editor commands, open files, search for symbols, and see a quick outline of a file, all using the same interactive window.

How can I open the terminal in VS Code?

You can open a terminal in Visual Studio Code by pressing ‘’Ctrl + (backtick)’’ on Windows and Linux or ‘’Ctrl + Shift + ‘’ on Mac.

How can I change the theme in VS Code?

Open a command palette using the shortcut and make sure your command palette prompt starts with ">"