Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code, also known as VS Code, is one of the best free code editors. The app is a popular choice for most developers because it’s relatively easy to use and has some unique features that make programming a little less laborious and repetitive.
If you want to check out VS Code for yourself, here’s how to get it working on a Windows PC.
What sets VS Code apart?
Despite the constant influx of top-notch code editors, there are several reasons why VS Code remains one of the most popular and functional options.
First, Visual Studio Code is free and multi-functional, which means it is compatible with other major PC operating systems, namely Linux, Ubuntu, and macOS. This allows you to seamlessly switch its use from one operating system to another without encountering any significant issues except for minor differences based on the operating system.
Another benefit of using VS Code is that it has a vast collection of features that ease the process of writing, viewing, and running code. This includes syntax highlighting and auto-completion. It also has a built-in code repository and a built-in debugger which greatly speeds up the bug detection process.
Moreover, since it is the most popular text editor, many open source developers are constantly creating and updating VS Code extensions, which makes it more attractive than its most popular competitor. near, Atom. GitHub originally developed Atom, then was acquired by Microsoft, making Atom a distant relative of Visual Studio Code.
To make things even more interesting, Microsoft recently announced that you can now start coding in your browser with Microsoft Visual Studio Online. This means you can now write and run programs on the go, picking up your work on any other system with an Internet connection whenever your personal computer is unavailable.
This development also means that team members in different locations can now collaborate on a project and see the results of their work in real time, further enhancing the already dizzying appeal of programming with VS Code.
How to Download and Install VS Code on Windows
Installing Visual Studio Code is straightforward and easy to do if you follow these steps:
1. Go to official Microsoft Visual Studio Code website
Log in to the Visual Studio Code website and click the drop-down arrow next to the Download for Windows button. After that you will be presented with different options. Click on the one that best suits your PC and the download should begin automatically.
If you are unsure which version to download, we recommend checking your PC specs to determine which one would work best for your system. After that, click on the version you want to download and the download will start automatically.
2. Run the installer and select your destination folder
Once the download is complete, run the installer. Accept the license by agreeing to the terms and conditions on your screen and click Next.
The Select destination location specifies where all VS Code related files will be located on your computer. The default location is Program files folder on your PC’s local drive. To change the location, click Browse and choose a new directory.
Note that Visual Studio Code has a minimum storage space requirement. As such, you must have enough storage space to install the app. If you don’t have enough space, delete some apps or media files and empty your trash, then try running the installer again.
Repeat this task until enough storage space is available to complete the installation, then click Next.
This is to create a folder in the Start menu containing a VS Code shortcut icon so you can access the application with a single click on the the Windows button once the installation is complete.
You can change the potential location of the shortcut by clicking Browse. Choose a location of your choice and click Next. If you decide not to create a shortcut for the application, check the box labeled Do not create a Start menu folder.
After making your selection, click Next to proceed to the next step of the installation.
4. Selection of additional tasks
This tells the installer if it should include additional features in the application.
We recommend that you check the box labeled Create a desktop icon to create an icon on your home screen to ensure quick access to the application. However, leaving this box unchecked will not affect the quality of your work or the overall functionality of the application.
After checking the other boxes according to your preference, click Next.
5. Complete the installation
The tricky part is behind you. Sit back, wait for the installation process to complete and click Finish. After that, launch the application and your Microsoft Visual Studio code should be ready to use.
Get started with VS Code
Once you have successfully installed Visual Studio Code, you need to customize it. When starting the application for the first time, you will see a Get started with VS Code page. This is the starting point for your customization, and we’ll provide you with some customization tips.
1. Choose your color theme
Like any modern app, you can configure VS Code in different color themes to suit your preferences. Click on Browse Color Themes to see the different themes available. This will display a drop-down list; you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to preview and left-click to apply them.
As a newbie developer, we recommend choosing a high-contrast color theme to avoid getting overwhelmed or confused by the color scheme.
2. Customizing settings
The developers have taken the time to collect the most frequently used settings to help you reap the benefits of VS Code. The better you get as a programmer, the more you can customize the settings. For now, let’s stick to the basics.
Click on Settings in the second tab opened on your VS Code. You can also open the settings by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the vertical panel on the left of your screen and clicking on Settings as soon as a list opens.
Follow this by clicking Frequently used, which will be the first contained item in a vertical list slightly to the left of your VS Code menu. Browse the contents displayed on your screen and modify them to your liking.
3. Using Command Lists
There are essential keyboard shortcuts for Visual Studio Code that you should learn. This will increase your efficiency and help you on your journey to mastery.
Some of the most useful are Shift + Alt + Up and Shift + Alt + Down P, which allow you to copy and paste single lines of code. You can also try Ctrl+Shift+ to display the command palette while you program.
4. Adding Extensions
Due to the open source nature of Visual Studio Code, developers are constantly developing plugins. Extensions have a wide range of uses, with some simply sprucing up the format of your code.
Others, on the other hand, have more practical uses, such as the Python extension, which helps you debug, refactor, and navigate the Python programming language efficiently.
Therefore, we recommend that you explore the app extension market to find extensions that match your interests.
Take your next steps in VS Code
Like learning to program, mastering the intricacies of Visual Studio Code can only come from constant practice. The more experience you gain as a developer, the more your level of expertise in the VS Code environment will be directly influenced.
As the learning never ends, we invite you to follow new developments in the VS Code ecosystem. This ranges from new features and extensions to settings, as they will improve your overall programming experience and increase your efficiency.