skip to content
Keshav Mohta

VS Code LifeSaver keyboard shortcuts

/ 8 min read


This is my very first post and this is about the most loving IDE VS CODE and few keyboard shortcut which I use daily and also few addition things how to add new keyboard shortcut or how to change/update existing keyboard shortcut.

before diving into the blog, let me clear what and how key binding works for user

In this post or even in vs code the + written in key binding is not a literal + key but this is just a notation to display the key combination, also the key name shown as capital does not require to keep caps lock on or pressing with Shift key, they are just lowercase letter.

fun fact: If you look at the keyboard, every letter written in capital on it.

also in VS code when you press keyboard shortcut, it is displayed in the status bar, it doesn’t exist, it will be displayed there.

Key binding in vs code status bar

Ctrl + B means press Ctrl and B key together, sometime these notation can be separated with space for e.g. Ctrl B

Ctrl + K Ctrl + S means

. first press Ctrl + K together . release the key . now press Ctrl + S together ,

in other way, keep Ctrl key pressed while pressing K and S and K and S need not to be the capital

Ctrl + K Z means

  • first press Ctrl and K together
  • release the keys
  • now press Z key only

1. Delete without changing the clipboard content

Normally what we do to delete a line, just Ctrl+ X as it does the job As this is how it works in most of application, but this has a flaw, not exactly a flaw but we can say limitation or side effect.

This operation cut the line, so if we have something very important in our clipboard, okay what is the clipboard? whenever we do copy action ( using Ctrl + C ) it is stored in the clipboard, so clipboard is a place where copy data being put and there is only single instance of copy data can be put, whenever we copy some other content, previous copied data being lost, so what usually we do, that first we copy 1 line and paste somewhere else and now copy next line and paste somewhere.

so coming to the point, this Ctrl + X overwrite your clipboard data and problem here either we do Ctrl + Z and copy the same code block but sometimes we have something in clipboard which was copied from other place/application and in this case Ctrl Z will not help through.

So always use Ctrl+K to delete the line without losing your clipboard data.

in mac OS

Cmd + Shift + K

in Ubuntu/Windows

Ctrl + Shift+ K

3. Multi cursor key modifier

since sublime text, multi cursor is my favourite utility, it helps to edit altogether on various places in file.

in Mac OS multi cursor can be used pressing Option key and in Windows it can be done using Ctrl key but sometimes it do not seems to work (actually in Ubuntu it doesn’t work) or may be you want to change the key combination for this operation, so follow below steps

  1. Go to settings of VS Code by pressing Cmd + , or Ctrl + , in open vs code instance
  2. Go to Workspace tab if want this change only for this workspace and you have saved the workspace otherwise there would be only User tab and you can make changes here.
  3. type in the search box “multi cursor modifier”
  4. in result it would be Alt, change it to CtrlCmd

you can verify the setting by opening settings.json ( click on top right icon on the Setting page), there would be an entry as below

"editor.multiCursorModifier": "ctrlCmd"

3. Move Line Up/Down

many of times we need to move the line of code above or below some line and we usually do, Cut, and paste on the desired line but there is a easy keyboard shortcut

in mac OS

Option + KeyDown and Option + KeyUp

in Ubuntu

Alt + KeyDown and Alt + KeyUp

KeyDown key is KeyUp key is

if it does not work then open the keyboard setting and first find that what is the key shortcut defined by vs code to know the keyboard settings, you can click on setting icon in activity bar and click on Keyboard shortcut in the context menu or press Ctrl+K Ctrl+ S ( keyboard shortcut for keyboard shortcut :p)

now keyboard binding panel will be open, there you can search using keyboard recording ( which described at the end of the article ) or search there Move Line Up

There you can see the key combination, if it is empty then click on the row and it will ask to enter the desired key binding which might conflicts with other shortcut with same key binding and it will be displayed by vs code as soon as you write, either you choose some other combination or change the existing so be careful and wise here, also make sure that when column should not be empty, if it is empty then fill it up by right click on row and choose Change When Expression option and write below line

editorTextFocus && !editorReadonly

4. Select All Occurrences of a word or tag in a file

Sometimes you need to select same word in the file then we can do it with below approaches

  • Find and Replace feature it with new name
  • Rename Symbol feature from context menu

but sometimes you just want to select few occurrences of the word or string and want to do some changes, for that use

in mac OS

Cmd + D

in Ubuntu

Ctrl + D

just select the word and press Cmd+ D, it will select the next occurrence in the file and also enable multi cursor , keep pressing Ctrl + D and it will select the next occurrence and so on and if it reach to end of page, it will start selecting from top of the page.

5. Duplicate the line (Up or Down)

many times we need to make few changes what written on previous line, so what we usually do, copy the line and paste on next line but there is a smart way to do it and use

in mac OS

Shift + Option + Down key

in Ubuntu

Alt + D

if you want to search in keyboard shortcuts search with ‘Copy Line Up’ and ‘Copy Line Down’, in Ubuntu it was very lengthy key combination , so I have changed the keyboard combination by simply click on the row and assign new key binding.

whenever you set your key binding, you will see entry in keybindings.json

"key": "alt+d",
"command": "editor.action.copyLinesDownAction",
"when": "editorTextFocus && !editorReadonly"

and it will add new shortcut but if you want to remove the previous key combination then write below json also

"key": "ctrl+shift+alt+down",
"command": "-editor.action.copyLinesDownAction",
"when": "editorTextFocus && !editorReadonly"

see the minus - sign ahead of the command

6. Cursor on Previous Position

in VS code, we do not have bookmarking feature by default and sometimes we want to go back where was the last cursor position, so there is shortcut for that

in mac OS

Control + - ( its minus sign )

in Ubuntu

Ctrl + Alt + -

every time you press this it will navigate back to the previous position of cursor or we can say cursor history, even it works across open files, suppose you click on file A line #20 then file B line # 20 then file A line # 40

and now when you press Option + - it will goes to file B line # 20 and again pressing Option + - will takes to file A line #20

How to search with key binding

suppose you want to know what it does when press Alt + D, so go to keyboard setting panel and there is keyboard icon on right side of search input, when you hover it show the title Record Keys. press this icon and now enter Alt + D in the search box, it will show the result which action is binding with given keystroke. do not enter backspace here, it will record that too, so reset again, click again to keyboard icon, clear the input field and repeat the steps.

key record in vsocde


mac OSWindows/ Ubuntuaction
Cmd + Shift + KCtrl + Shift+ KDeleting the line without losing clipboard content
Option + KeyUpAlt + KeyUpMove line Up
Option + KeyDownAlt + KeyDownMove line Down
Option + Shift + KeyDownAlt + DCopy the line down i.e. duplicate the line
Cmd + DCtrl + DSelecting next occurrence of the selected word
Ctr + -Alt + Ctrl + -go to Previous cursor position across the files


Hope you Enjoy while reading. Please do comment if something is wrong or not working,