▲ up

Note Taking in Visual Studio Code

tl;dr Installed some extensions and made some snippets to make a really nice note taking experience. Exact changes needed are below.

Visual Studio Code

First and foremost I would like to introduce Visual Studio Code if you haven't heard of it yet. It is my editor of choice and is very flexible and extendable. For more information on it check out their site, I definitely recommend having a look!

Now that you have VSCode I want to share the set of extensions, snippets, etc. that I put together to create what I believe to be a very useful setup to allow you to use VSCode for note taking. In particular I prefer to take my notes in Markdown, if this isn't your preferred I hope I can still assist in some way.

One thing I have noticed is that my laptop consistently starts getting filled up with more and more applications during my work with software. An IDE (usually a few even), an editor, database visualizer, email client, internet browsers (multiple), etc. The last thing I want to do is add another application where I could use an existing one in its place, this is what triggered me to look into what alternatives were out there. Considering I am pretty mainstream with my Markdown note taking it wasn't too much of a difficult task. I already used VSCode for many of my projects and plenty for editing READMEs and the like, so I knew that it had quite an expansive set of functionality baked in to provide a great experience when writing Markdown.

Dedicated Note Taking Applications

Before I started this I definitely had a look at existing applications because, hey who doesn't want to just take something off the shelf and it just works. Again I specifically looked at the areas around Markdown based note taking and I noted a few things that I found to be the most useful.

  1. Instant preview - a lot of these was in a side by side view
  2. Tags - This is a great feature and easy way of searching and grouping notes
  3. 'Notebooks' - Being able to separate the notes into 'notebooks' is a very logical thing to be able to group notes together for easy reference.
  4. Direct access - not so much a functionality of the application itself but I enjoy being able to have direct access to my notes and be able to treat them as their own separate entity.

After some tinkering and searching I was very excited to find that I could create a very similar experience in my already existing VSCode.

Setting it all up


Extensions are the name given to plugins for VSCode. They are easily installed from the extension manager in the sidebar, or even through the command palette directly!

The first extension you will want is VSNotes. This provides the majority of the functionality. It provides:


All that you need to do to make the most of this change the setting for the home directory of your notes:

"vsnotes.defaultNotePath": "/path/to/notes"


Then create the following snippet for Markdown files. This snippet can be created by accessing the Command Palette then selecting Preferences: Configure User Snippets > markdown. This will allow you to create language specific snippets for Markdown.

"Front Matter Tags": {
		"prefix": "tags",
		"body": [
			"    - $1",

Auto Preview

The final extension was Auto-Open Markdown Preview which simply does exactly as the name suggests. When a Markdown file is opened it automatically opens the side preview of the Markdown file (which I usually can open from ctrl + shift + m).


The last part is the least inventive of how to address the final point of notebooks. I am simply using directory structure to solve this problem. However I am finding that this is sufficient thanks to the structure preview provided by VSNotes. I know I am sorry a not so exciting note to end on but a simple one.


All in all I am finding this to be a suitable solution for my note taking problem and hope this helps someone. I am also keen to hear if anyone else has a better way of doing this or the like. Probably best way to discuss is to raise an issue on the repo.