My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes

And then, the display of my MacBook Pro broke. So after five years, it was time to get a new machine, after all. Every time this had happened in the past, I took the opportunity to start from scratch and do a fresh install of all the software I in fact use and need. Consequently, I spent the past couple of days setting up my new Mac. As part of that, I also set up my development environment and my current editor of choice, Visual Studio Code. One of the strengths of VS Code is the ecosystem of extensions that has grown quite substantially and many of the extensions can really take our coding experience one step further. But which are the extensions one should install? I already had tried and installed quite a few extensions before but I also asked on Twitter to get other people’s opinions and maybe learn about a few extensions I hadn’t heard of before. So here’s the list of extensions I ended up installing, in alphabetical order. If you have more to add, feel free to write me a message or email.


Auto Close Tag

This extension automatically adds HTML or XML closing tags so you don’t have to do it manually.

Better Comments

Better Comments will help you write, well, better comments by highlighting different types of comments, like alerts, questions, or TODOs, in different colors.

Bracket Pair Colorizer 2

This extension colorizes matching brackets in the same color. So useful once you get used to the many additional colors in your code.


Dash is an app that lets you read API documentation and code snippets, also offline. This integration for Visual Studio Code is an easy way to access documentation from VS Code.

EditorConfig for VS Code

Providing an .editorconfig file has become a standard for many, especially when working together in teams. It allows you to define editor settings for a project so that, for example, a newline is inserted at the end of files automatically or that everyone indents their code with spaces, or tabs, or spaces, or tabs…

UPDATE: This extension is obviously no longer needed as VS Code now comes with support for .editorconfig files built-in.


Code linters analyze your code and find problems and errors. This extension integrates the JavaScript linter ESLint into VS Code.

Git History

If you are using Git for version control, this extension lets you explore the history of your project within VS Code. View and search Git log, view previous versions of a file, or compare branches, commits, and files across commits.

GitLens — Git supercharged

The essential extension for Git. You can see when and by whom each line of code was changed – inline in your editor. GitLens also lets you explore the history of your codebase and compare branches, commits, tags, and much more.

Import Cost

If you are working with JavaScript modules, it happens quickly that you import too much code. Using Webpack, this extension will display the size of the imported package right behind the import statement.

Live Share

Visual Studio Live Share enables you to collaboratively edit and debug with others in real-time. You can share your current project, and then as needed, share debugging sessions, terminal instances, localhost web apps, voice calls, and more.

npm Intellisense

npm Intelligente autocompletes npm modules in import statements. As simple as effective.

Path Intellisense

This extension autocompletes filenames.

Permute Lines

Permute Lines lets you reverse or shuffle lines of code or filter for unique lines.

PHP Intelephense

Intelephense provides PHP language features like code completion, documentation, formatting, and more.

Prettier - Code formatter

Prettier is a code formatter for JavaScript, TypeScript, JSON, CSS, SCSS, HTML, Vue, Markdown, YAML, and many more code styles.

Project Manager

Project Manager helps you to easily access your projects, no matter where they are located. You can manually add projects or let the extension auto-detect Git, Mercurial or SVN repositories, VSCode folders or any other folder. Thanks to Max Böck for the suggestion!


SVG adds full SVG language support to VS Code, including auto-complete, a live preview, the MDN reference, and a color picker.

Remote - SSH

The Remote - SSH extension lets you use any remote machine with an SSH server as your development environment. Thanks to Timo Salm for the suggestion!

Task Explorer

Lists all supported tasks (think npm, Gulp, Ruby, etc.) for a project in a tree view. Tasks can be viewed, edited, started, and stopped directly from within VS Code.

Twig Language 2

Adds support for the Twig templating language. Useful if you use Craft CMS, for example.

VS DocBlockr

A DocBlock is a special type of comment that includes details about a method or function, like the function parameters or the type of returned data. VS DocBlockr makes writing those comments easy: Pressing enter or tab after /** will yield a new line and automatically close the comment. This alone makes it much easier to write longer comment blocks. But if the line directly afterward contains a function definition, then the name and parameters of the function are automatically added to the comment, too.

Wrap Console Log Simple

Put your cursor on a word and use a shortcut to create a console.log statement with that exact word.

Installing Extensions via the CLI

Shortly after I shared this article, Stefan Judis shared a super useful tip with me: You can install VS Code extensions via the command line (CLI) and put them all in a script and into your dotfiles, for example.

Here is an example script with the extensions from the list above:


So that’s it as far as extensions are concerned. But there is one important topic missing: Themes. The theme substantially influences how comfortable you feel in your code editor. So it is worth mentioning, although, in the end, it is above all a matter of personal preference.

For quite a while, I was using the dark City Lights theme. I like the balanced colors of the theme and that it puts a lot of focus on functions and variable names. It also comes with an icon pack that fits in nicely with the overall look of the theme.

A few days ago, though, I decided to switch to Sarah Drasner’s Night Owl theme. Sarah has done outstanding work in creating a theme that is colorful without being distracting. Night Owl is also accessible to people with colorblindness and in low-light circumstances. I like the background of the editor window to be a tiny bit darker than the default blue of the theme, so I adjusted the color in the preferences. So far, I enjoy the theme a lot.

Vs Code Night Owl

So that wraps up this post about my current VS Code setup. I hope you found this list helpful and, as mentioned before, if you have anything to add like better or more extensions, I’d love to hear from you.


105 Webmentions

Photo of Matthias Ott
Matthias Ott
Also installed it a few days ago. No performance issues so far. But I’ll have a close look at it… ????;
Photo of franz
A manifest-y approach: //dump extensions to text file `code --list-extensions > vscode.txt` //install from text file `cat vscode.txt | xargs -L 1 code --install-extension`
Photo of Sumit Kumar
Sumit Kumar
npm-intellisense caused quite the performance issues for me. Is it better now? Haven't tried it in a few months
Photo of Stefan Judis
Stefan Judis
After reading about @m_ott's VS Code setup I installed 5 new extensions. ????; ????; Matthias' setup:… Little @code tip: you can install extensions via the CLI & put them then into your dotfiles. ????; ????;My VSCode extensions setup script:…
Photo of Stefan Judis
Stefan Judis
Nice one! I love these kind of posts! ????;????;????;????;‍♂;️;
Photo of Dzhavat Ushev
Dzhavat Ushev
Nice list. I also use some of the same extensions. I recently updated one of my extensions to help front-end folks have a better time working with flexbox????;… #shamelessPlug
Photo of Matthias Ott
Matthias Ott
Thanks, Dzhavat! (I’ll have a look at your extension, too ????;)
Photo of Gabriel Avedikian
Gabriel Avedikian
De quoi bien customiser votre Editeur de code préféré ;)…
Photo of Martin Hartwig
Martin Hartwig
List of very useful extensions for VSCode. Thank you, @m_ott!
Photo of Lukasz Mazur
Lukasz Mazur
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes, by @m_ott…
Photo of José Luis Estévez
José Luis Estévez
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes, by @m_ott…
Photo of Angel Guerra
Angel Guerra
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes, by @m_ott…
Photo of Dakshraj Enterprise
Dakshraj Enterprise
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes…
Photo of Malibu IT Labs
Malibu IT Labs
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes: Matthias Ott’s posted his VS Code setup. I find lists like this (I rounded up some recent updates of my own) irresistible, probably because, like y’all, I spend an awful lot of time in VS Code and wanna……
Photo of Yong Sheng
Yong Sheng
interesting list. need to give some of them a spin.…
Photo of DenisT
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes, by @m_ott…
Photo of pierresis
Love it.…
Photo of TheDevList
My Visual Studio Code Setup Extensions and Themes ????; ????;… #Code #100DaysOfCode
Photo of 全;部;入;り;HTML太;郎;
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes · Matthias Ott – User Experience Designer…
Photo of nuncapops
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes · Matthias Ott – User Experience Designer…
Photo of Pinboard Popular
Pinboard Popular
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes · Matthias Ott – User Experience Designer…
Photo of Sy Dinh
Sy Dinh
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes, by @m_ott…
Photo of Alex Devero
Alex Devero
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes, by @m_ott… #dev #programming #coding
Photo of Jorge Goes
Jorge Goes
My Visual Studio Code Setup: Extensions and Themes, by @m_ott…
Photo of Madza
Thanks for the insight! 🔥;🔥; Awesome portfolio, btw 💯;
Photo of @michelle
This post by @michelle will also be very helpful! 🎉; CSS { In Real Life } | Setting Up a New(ish) MacBook
Photo of @matthiasott
@matthiasott VS Code have come a long way. I think a lot of these features are now native. Path intellisense for one. Also not sure if you have tried the new default theme “Dark Modern” it’s really good!